India and Pakistan said on Thursday they hoped to transform trade ties and boost peace prospects at the opening of the largest Pakistani commercial fair ever staged on Indian soil.
At the same time, Pakistan on Thursday released 26 Indian fishermen held in prison for more than two years for violating territorial waters, officials said in Karachi.
Shazia Marri, the information minister for Sindh province, said: “They have been released as a goodwill gesture.”
“There is no other option but economic partnership between Indian and Pakistan,”Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said at the launch of the four-day exhibition in New Delhi, a sentiment echoed by Pakistani officials.
“We have to recognise our true trade potential and leave our children with a legacy that ensures prosperity, harmony and peace.” The opening came just days after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari made the first trip to India by a Pakistani head of state in seven years.
Pakistan has brought more than 650 business people to the Indian capital for the trade show as commercial ties improve between the neighbours.
“(A) lot of movement has happened in the past year, normalisation is going very fast,” Pakistan Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood said.
The fair showcases the products of Pakistan’s top jewellery, furniture and clothes designers along with the goods of leading food producers.