It would be an excellent step to see permission extended to “allow Indian and Pakistani nationals to transit through each other’s airports without a visa”, said an influential Pakistani daily on Monday.
An editorial “Telecom agreement” in the Dawn said that the permission given by the government to communication providers – telecommunication and Internet – to sign agreements with neighbouring countries is a very positive step and should be expanded further.
“At the outset, the impact of the permission will be limited as private operators begin developing relationships across the borders, and growth will be constrained by the limited number of people travelling to neighbouring countries, except China.
“For example, the permission could extend to providing roaming services to Pakistani cellular users in India or Iran, but the small number of people who use this facility, particularly for travel to neighbouring countries, can only mean little growth,” it said.
The daily observed that the agreement is an important measure to build further contacts across borders.
“In the days to come, it would be an excellent step to see the permission extended to allow Indian and Pakistani nationals to transit through each other’s airports without a visa,” it said.
The editorial noted that expanding ties such as these “build durable grounds for greater economic cooperation, which ought to be a shared goal towards which both countries can once again aspire given the thaw in the relations between them ever since that fleeting interaction between the prime ministers of both countries in Paris recently”.
It went on to say that “better telecommunication links between Pakistani and Indian providers can also hopefully grow towards greater sharing of each other’s networks for faster speed”.
“Pakistan’s relative isolation from its own neighbours is a crucial constraint to its growth, and overcoming this is a long-haul process that will be marked by steps of this sort. It will take far more than road links to profitably benefit from an expansion in ties.”
The editorial said that allowing new business models to flourish as the nature of cooperation and connectivity deepens among all neighbouring countries will be crucial to leveraging the opportunities opened up various initiatives.
“Let’s hope that this modest initiative is part of a longer journey towards greater regional links.”