More than a decade after the signing of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement by both countries, bilateral trade was far below the potential, the Dawn suggested in an editorial.
“Having missed an opportunity to advance opening trade with India, Pakistan now finds itself dealing with the consequences,” the daily said.
“The forthcoming talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries could have been an opportunity to move further down the road of regional economic cooperation and integration, but instead they are going to spend their time testing the waters,” it said.
It said the decision to delay the grant of Non-Discriminatory Market Access status to India in March was another lost opportunity.
“Further delays will only embolden those segments of public opinion in India who believe Pakistan is not serious in pursuing closer trade ties with its neighbour.”
The Dawn said Islamabad must address the Pakistani industry’s fears of getting swamped by India’s larger manufacturing strength on account of its sheer size.
“But the process so far has not been free from the concerns of the Pakistani military that has had a powerful role in decisions concerning India…
“New governments have been sworn in on both sides … and it is imperative that both parties remain committed to the road map (of) going forward.
“Pakistan should use the moment to signal its willingness to continue on the path to freer bilateral trade.”