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    Indian government seeks talks with Pakistan on direct air link between New Delhi and Islamabad

    Synopsis

    India has sought talks with Pakistan on direct air link between the capitals and more flights between business centres, to strengthen bilateral relations.

    Indian government seeks talks with Pakistan on direct air link between New Delhi and Islamabad
    NEW DELHI: India has sought talks with Pakistan on direct air link between the capitals and more flights between business centres, a move aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.

    An Indian commerce department official said the issue would be discussed at the commerce secretary-level talks between the two nations, due later this month, if Islamabad responds positively to the proposal.

    "We have already written to the Pakistani government indicating that we are interested in more flights between India and Pakistan, mostly to and from the capitals and connecting them to important cities," the official said, adding, "We are hopeful of a positive response."

    A Pakistani official told ET that the country's commerce ministry would vet the proposal, but more flights would make commercial sense only when visa norms are eased not just for businesses but also for people.

    The next round of India-Pakistan trade talks is expected to start in Islamabad in the third week of this month. If Pakistan agrees to discuss air links, an official from the civil aviation ministry will be included in the Indian delegation, which will be led by commerce secretary SL Rao.

    The neighbours currently have 12 flights per week linking Delhi and Mumbai with Lahore and Karachi, but none between New Delhi and Islamabad. All flights are operated by Pakistan International Airlines. India and Pakistan had signed an agreement four years back to double the number of flights and also link up the capitals, but the pact was not implemented as bilateral talks were suspended following a terror attack on Mumbai later that year.

    "Businessmen are not interested in going to Islamabad. It makes more commercial sense to fly to Lahore and then to Islamabad. These are the things that we need to discuss," the Pakistani official said.

    Pointing out that Air India had suspended flights between Delhi and Lahore in 2008 mainly because it was commercially unviable, the official said that minimising visa restrictions between the two countries was necessary for expanding air connectivity.

    India and Pakistan have agreed to liberalise their bilateral visa regime for businesses and an agreement to this effect is likely to be signed soon, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Tuesday.

    Speaking at an India-Pakistan Parliamentary Dialogue meeting organised by industry body Ficci, Sharma said that India had agreed to grant multiple entry visas to Pakistani businessmen and there would be more clarity on the final agreement after External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's visit to Pakistan later in the month.

    The two countries will also shortly sign three agreements in areas of customs cooperation, mutual recognition of standards and redressal of trade issues.

    Sharma also expressed hope that Pakistan would stick to the year-end deadline for dismantling the list of banned products from India and granting it Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. The minister said it was Pakistan's turn to act as New Delhi has delivered on its promises.
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    1 Comment on this Story

    Guru3008 days ago
    Wah kya baat...Besharam Indian Govt...Licking the *** of Paki Mullas for the votes of Indian Mullas.....Now Terrorists will come to India from flights also....great...I will not be surprised if India becomes a Muslim nation by 2030!!!
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