Book Chapter written by Tridivesh Singh Maini in 'India-Pakistan Trade Normalisation: The Unfinished Economic Agenda' - India-Pakistan Trade Normalisation

February 02, 2017 | Prof. Tridivesh Singh Maini

It has often been argued that greater connectivity and opening of land crossings between India and Pakistan will help not just in enhancing people-to-people linkages, but also in giving the much needed boost to economic relations between both the countries. A perfect instance to illustrate this point is the Wagah–Attari land route. In spite of numerous roadblocks, there has been a significant increase in the level of bilateral trade over the past decade through this route.

This paper seeks to examine the potential of greater connectivity between Rajasthan and Sindh, via the Munabao–Khokhrapar land route, and the benefits that will accrue to the business community of Rajasthan and beyond. The thrust of the paper is on the feasibility of and obstacles of opening up this route for trade. In doing so, it has also examined the role of important stakeholders in this process which include the political leadership of the state as well as local business chambers. This was essential, because in the case of other border states, especially Kashmir and Punjab, the political leadership of the state along with business chambers has been pro-aactively lobbying with the central government not just for opening land routes but also addressing important roadblocks to greater trade and people-to-people contacts. The paper has also examined in detail issues pertaining to the Thar Express, the rail service which connects Munabao with Khokhrapar. Some of the important issues dealt with include the logistical challenges that passengers have to face. The paper has tried to address these issues by taking into account the views of all stakeholders, provides recommendations to ensure that the train service is more successful and outlines the steps that need to be taken by political actors as well as the business community to ensure that Munabao–Khokhrapar emerges as an important route for greater connectivity and more vibrant economic ties between India and Pakistan.