Mian Mohammed Mansha, Pakistan’s top businessman, believes it is past time for Pakistan and India to mend fences and resume commerce.
Mansha, who was mentioned in a Credit Suisse Leaks investigation earlier this year, recently told The Indian Express that the two countries have “many synergies” that may be used once commerce is resumed.
“I really believe that we must resolve our differences with India. Now, whatever issues are obstructing your progress, allow them to exist. But I believe that once they visit each other’s country, whether through trade or tourism – religious or otherwise – the doors will begin to open,” he remarked.
Mansha has recommended Pakistan and India “bring temperatures down” by resolving the Kashmir problem in “small steps.” He also mentioned opening up Bollywood to Pakistani performers and the Indian Premier League (IPL) to Pakistani cricketers on a larger scale.
During a session of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this year, the 75-year-old industrialist, largely considered as Pakistan’s most significant voice in the business sector, urged for the restoration of trade with India.
In an interview with an Indian daily, Mansha echoed his words from the conference, adding that if India could continue to buy from China despite border worries, there was no reason why Pakistan couldn’t do the same. “I believe that having good relationships with your neighbors is the best thing you can do. He went on to say, “You can’t change your neighbors.”
“I am a businessman,” he said, reinforcing his points. That is why I argue that if something is cheaper in India, why should I buy it elsewhere? The cost of transportation (from India) is lower.”
“There are so many products to choose from.” We (the Nishat Group) manufacture Hyundai automobiles. Hyundai is a huge company in India. We could get some parts from India for less money than we could get them from China, for example. You also do a great deal of business with China. Your imports from China are massive, and if you look at it, you also have territorial disputes with China, among other things,” he explained.
Following Prime Minister Modi’s decision to remove the statute providing occupied Kashmir special status or autonomy, Pakistan stopped trade with India in August 2019.
“I think we need to move forward on the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” Mansha said. “We could take small, small steps.” “I believe we should lower the temperature.”
He advocated for reviving cross-LoC trade and bus services that had allowed families on both sides to mingle and conduct business. He also advised that flights to Kashmir be routed through Sharjah.
In terms of overall trade, Mansha suggested that both countries begin with cotton and cement. “I work in the cement industry,” he explained. In the Chakwal district (Pakistan’s Punjab), where Mr. Manmohan Singh was born, we have a large plant. We’ve even saved the school that he went to. Because the Indian Punjab and places along the border lack limestone, Pakistani cement is substantially cheaper. We used to ship a lot of cement to India until it all came to a halt.”
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea if we could import cotton and export some cement to India,” he elaborated.
“I also deal with cotton textile companies where we want to use Indian cotton,” the industrialist stated. We also cultivate a lot of cotton, and we’re now importing some from Afghanistan, as well as many other nations that we import cotton from. Our cotton seasons are a little different than yours. We don’t cultivate cotton at the same time as you do. It would be fantastic if you could purchase it from us when our season arrives. And when yours arrives, we’ll be able to import it from you instead of incurring shipping costs from other countries.”
Mansha also pushed both parties to invest. “If Tata invests in Pakistan, for example, you will have employees here, and I believe interconnections do develop,” he said.
He stressed the significance of the India-Pakistan cultural collaboration, noting that “Indian films (were) being shown in Pakistan, and Pakistani dramas were being shown in India.” Some of our performers have had better luck in Bollywood, but the most important thing we can do now is have our cricketers participate in your IPL game. And it’s possible that yours will attend the PSL.”
“Cricket is now a big business,” he said.