In a potential paradigm shift in bilateral ties, Pakistan Sunday
agreed with India to adopt the "India-China model" in negotiating
their sensitive relationship, which entails focusing on scaling up
trade while resolving outstanding issues in a "step-by-step"
After holding 40-minutes of one-on-one talks at the prime
minister's 7 Race Course Road residence, the discussions extended
over a lavish lunch involving senior ministers and officials from
At the lunch, Zardari told Manmohan Singh that India and China
have many differences, but their trade ties are going up, said
government sources. Zardari indicated, said sources, that that the
India-China model could help improve the relations between India
and Pakistan as well.
In their talks also preceding lunch, Manmohan Singh and Zardari
agreed on the need to tap economic potential and the need for
positive movement in the direction of liberalising trade, said the
India has been pitching for the India-China model in talks with
Pakistani interlocutors for a long time, a model endorsed by
Beijing, but Islamabad had not responded enthusiastically as its
political establishment saw Kashmir as the "core issue" that
needed to be resolved before trade normalisation can take place.
But in the past few months, with Pakistan moving in the direction
of granting India the Most Favoured Nation status, the
Kashmir-first-and-trade-later equation has been reversed in favour
of simultaneously pursuing both trade and discussions on the
contentious Kashmir issue, over which the two nations have fought
The India-China model, said sources, could be a potential
game-changer in the accident-prone India-Pakistan relationship as
it envisages a pragmatic approach to keep working at enhancing
economic ties that benefits both countries while taking a
long-strategic range view to resolve complex outstanding issues
Despite the decades-long boundary dispute, India and China, the
two rising Asian powers, have managed to scale up bilateral ties
to over $70 billion and set an ambitious target of $100 billion by
Compared to that, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stood
at a mere $2.7 billion, with trade balance heavily in favour of
India. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has predicted
that trade between may touch $10 billion by 2015, if trade and
investment barriers are removed.
Manmohan Singh underlined this new spirit of pragmatism in ties
after talks with Zardari. "We are willing to find practical,
pragmatic solutions" to all issues dogging their ties "and that's
the message that President Zardari and I would wish to convey," he
In his conversation with Zardari, Manmohan Singh stressed that the
two countries needed to make progress on every issues step by
step, an incremental approach that was also welcomed by the
Pakistani side, said the sources.
This is in stark contrast to the dialogue in Islamabad between
their foreign ministers in July 2010 when the talks collapsed
because then Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
insisted on unrealistic deadlines for resolving issues like
Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.
Manmohan Singh, who has invested much diplomatic capital in
turning around the volatile India-Pakistan relations, has been an
eloquent advocate of greater trade and people-to-people contacts
which, he has stressed, will make the borders irrelevant.
Capping years of negotiations, home secretaries of India and
Pakistan are set to sign a visa liberalisation agreement soon that
will ease travel between people of the two countries.
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