The business-friendly Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to expand two-way trade for the benefit of the people of both sides of the border, said Syed Yawar Ali, Co-Chair of Pakistan India Joint Business Forum.

“Fortunately both leaders – Mr Narenedra Modi, the newly-elected Prime Minister of India and his Pakistani counterpart Mr Nawaz Sharif, possess the leadership skills and are committed to doing business with each other. And jointly they can fight poverty and resolve issues,” he said while addressing a select gathering of businessmen, traders, industrialists and bankers here.

The May 28 luncheon meeting to discuss economic issues with Yawar Ali was jointly hosted by Canada Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) and MEDTE/MRI at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre. The meeting was attended among others by the visiting Chief Executive Officer of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, members of his delegation, Pakistani Consul General Mr Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, Deputy Consul General Mr. Asghar Ali Golo, Mr. Pankaj Mehra, the Director and Treasurer of the Canada India Business Council and Mr Imtiaz Seyid, Vice President of RBC’s South Asian and Middle Eastern Markets.

Mr. Syed Yawar Ali, who is also the Chairman of Nestle Pakistan, one of the largest multi-national corporations in Pakistan, said that the current leaders of India and Pakistan enjoy immense support of business communities of both countries and their cooperation can help achieve tremendous progress in the sub-continent.

The Pakistani prime minister has recently said both Indo-Pak leaders have a “common agenda of development and economic revival.” During his last meeting with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi, Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying by Pakistani newspapers: “It is important for us (India and Pakistan) to work together for peace, progress and prosperity. Finally, we have to strive to change confrontation into cooperation.”

Yawar Ali pointed out that there is a very favourable atmosphere in the business circles of India and Pakistan to promote trade and businesses between the two neighboring countries. “After all business people have to do business and not the governments,” he remarked.

Yawar Ali expressed the hope that Islamabad will soon grant the most favored nation status to India. He said the announcement for grating the MFN was perhaps delayed due to the parliamentary elections in India. He clarified that Pakistan is now officially calling the MFN as “Non-Discriminatory Market Access, or NDMA.”

Speaking about the India-Pakistan Joint Business Forum, he said a memorandum of understating (MOU) was signed and a road map created by 15 members of both countries. The Forum, he added, had already held its three meetings recently.
Yawar Ali, who is also the honorary Consul of Canada for Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, said there is a tremendous amount of potential to do business with Pakistan, particularly in the Energy sector. “There is a margin of 17 to 18 % return,” he added. Yawar Ali also said that it is an honor to serve Canada in Punjab. Canada, he added, is the most civilized country in the world.

S.M. Muneer, Pakistan’s leading industrialist and the chief of Trade Development Authority, also spoke on the occasion and said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is working hard for the betterment of the people of his country. He said the pace of industrial growth has been accelerated. Infrastructure and dams are being built to put the country on the path of progress and prosperity. He said his country’s GDP is likely to go up from 2.75% to 6% in days to come. He said the foreign currency reserves are also going up and people are heavily investing in the country’s stock exchange. S.M. Muneer disclosed that Pakistan’s Trade Expo will be organized here in September this year.

Earlier, the outgoing Pakistani Consul General Nafees Zakaria said he was deeply moved and impressed that Mr. Yawar Ali made the commitment to visit Toronto at the invitation of Canada Pakistan Business Council while he was on a personal trip to the United States.

Mr. Zakaria mentioned that during his 15 months stay in Toronto, he made efforts to seek Canada’s focus on Pakistan. “I took the initiatives to scratch this surface recognizing this as an opportunity to change the outlook that Canada had on Pakistan.”
At the very outset of the meeting Mr. Akhil Tyagi, the Area Director of South Asia, Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment/Ministry of Research and Innovation, made a comprehensive overall review about the opportunities available through the Province of Ontario. While recounting the achievements of Canada Pakistan Business Council, he greatly appreciated the efforts, cooperation and coordination of Nafees Zakaria and Samir Dossal. He called the trio as the Dream Team and Mr Samir Dossal was prompt in saying: “If it weren’t for these three individuals the progress and strides made by the CPBC would not have been possible.”