Pakistan approves India as ‘Most Favoured’ nation

23
101

In a major confidence-building measure to normalise relations with India, Pakistan’s federal cabinet on Wednesday unanimously endorsed granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to its nuclear-armed neighbour, subject to the approval of parliament.
Another important decision the federal cabinet took to bring the Baloch rebels to the table for a dialogue to bring peace to the troubled province was to contact the family of Nawab Akbar Bugti to seek their opinion, asking them if they were satisfied with the High Court Commission or if they wanted a Supreme Court Commission to probe the killing of the Baloch leader.
Briefing reporters on the cabinet decisions, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet had endorsed the MFN status for India after all stakeholders, including the country’s security establishment and the business community, were taken on board.
Defending the government’s decision to grant MFN status to India, the information minister said the cabinet had a candid discussion on the issue and admitted that most of the cabinet ministers had expressed concerns on the government’s decision. She said all their doubts were cleared by the commerce minister and commerce secretary. “Prior to reaching this accord, we took on board all stakeholders, including the defence-related institutions. Moreover, all chambers of commerce and other trading bodies were also consulted… We have decided to follow the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and this is why the federal cabinet unanimously endorsed the MFN status to India. Prior to this, Pakistan has already assigned MFN status to over 100 countries,” she said. The minister said relations between Pakistan and India were discussed at length during the meeting and ministers from all coalition parties had unanimously endorsed the decision.
Responding to strong questions raised by the media, the information minister and Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood shifted the onus of the decision to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, with the minister stating that soon after the partition and despite the war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir in 1948,
Pakistan and India had signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) under which all member states had MFN status. “We have been assured that trade with India would not affect our balance of power, strategic interests, Kashmir cause or our import bill. The commerce minister told the meeting that during his visit to India, he had consulted with the Kashmiri leaders on MFN status to India. He also said that when the Kashmiris on both sides of the border were continuing their bilateral trade and bus service, there was no reason for Pakistan-India trade to suffer,” she explained.
Advocating the cabinet decision, the minister said bilateral trade would enhance revenues for the cash-strapped Pakistan government. “When Indian goods are already being smuggled into Pakistan through Dubai and we are wasting a huge chunk of revenue, it is better to allow legal trade which would benefit both countries and their peoples. India gave MFN status to Pakistan in 1995 but we did not respond in kind,” she asserted.
Successive harsh questions compelled the minister to defend the government’s decision, saying the media was just point-scoring. She said both countries were involved in talks for approval to trade 233 non-tariff items.
Giving an overview of the history of Pak-India trade ties, the commerce secretary said trade ties between India and Pakistan had been blocked after the 1965 war, while India gave Pakistan MFN status in 1995 and Pakistan adopted a positive list for trade. He said now both countries had decided to dismantle the non-tariff barrier and only Wahga border had been opened for trade through rail and road links.
Responding to a question, Zafar Mehmood said that under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), Afghanistan was allowed to send its goods to India through Wahga but India could not do so.
Firdous said a recent report of a think-tank led by former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Hussain had suggested that Pakistan would benefit from liberalisation of trade, which would not hurt its strategic interests with India and it would get support of $800 million without any dent to its strategic interests.
“The cabinet was told that just as China and India had continuing bilateral trade despite their dispute over Tibet, Pakistan and India could also move forward despite their stance on Kashmir. Kashmiris are the principal party to the Kashmir issue. Once Kashmiris are having bilateral trade, there is no question why Pakistan should not do so,” she asserted.
She said the cabinet had taken up a 19-point agenda in its lengthy meeting, with the implementation status of the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-Balochistan Package on top of the list.
She said during the meeting some ministers argued the incapability and ineffectiveness of the Balochistan government, with a specific reference to Chief Minister Aslam Raisani. She said the prime minister said that despite incompetence, we should respect the chief minister and his government, which had the mandate of the people.
“The prime minister also directed that steps should be taken to ensure capacity building of the Balochistan government and chief minister himself, while a committee was also formed to monitor the usage of funds to uplift Balochistan,” she said.
“The prime minister decided to expand the dialogue committee and said talks would be held with political dissidents to bring them into the main stream. The Balochistan governor, chief minister and ministers were asked to get in touch with them to bring them into the political process. It was also decided that the dialogue committee should talk to rebels and then submit a comprehensive dialogue package so that the government can know what rebels want,” she said, adding that the prime minister ordered that the family of Nawab Akbar Bugti be contacted to ascertain whether they wanted a Supreme Court Commission or they were happy with the Balochistan High Court Commission currently probing the Bugti murder case.
She said Justice (r) Javed Iqbal was proposed to head the Bugti probe commission, but any decision would be taken once Bugti’s family made up their mind and give the government the go-ahead to form the commission.
“Since the issue of who is the legal heir of Nawab Bugti is sub judice in the Supreme Court, we have decided to wait for the court decision and once the matter is resolved, we will contact the legal heirs for their viewpoint,” she added.
“The cabinet was informed that a judicial enquiry into the allotment of Gwadar Land has been implemented… It was informed of a special quota of 1,200 scholarship and HEC-allocated 600 additional scholarships for Baloch youth. Rationalisation of royalty and gas development charge has also been amicably settled,” she added. She said the cabinet was informed that as a result of the 7th NFC Award, financial resources of Balochistan had increased from Rs 43 billion in 2009 to Rs 108 billion in 2011-12, adding that under reconciliatory efforts 665 political prisoners had been released in Balochistan.
The minister said the cabinet also approved cooperation between the state-run news agencies of Turkey and Pakistan and this decision would enable the improvement of the distorted image of Pakistan abroad, and Turkey would become a gateway of revival of Pakistan’s image in Europe.
Asked whether the government would move to get former president Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Shaukat Aziz back to Pakistan in order to implement the court’s orders, the information minister said the government would play a facilitator’s role to implement the court verdict. “Let the court convey the orders to the government institutions concerned. We would take action under the law,” she added, stopping short of giving any clear-cut response over the issue.
She said the issues of development surcharge and royalty for natural gas had been resolved and payments for last two years had been made to the Balochistan government.
Earlier, briefing the cabinet on the implementation of the Balochistan package, Establishment Secretary Khushnud Lashari said Balochistan had been given greater provincial autonomy as enshrined in the constitution after the 18th Amendment, increased job opportunities for the youth of the province, greater share of Balochistan in royalty and gas development surcharge and large-scale development projects funded by the federal government.
The federal government had agreed to accept the accumulated gas surcharge claim of Balochistan of Rs 120 billion and it would be reimbursed to the provincial government at the rate of Rs 10 billion per year, he said. Rs 10 billion was paid last year and another Rs 10 billion had been paid during the current financial year, he added. The cabinet was told that the construction of cantonments in Kohlu and Sui had been stopped and the army had been replaced by the FC.
The cabinet was told that the conversion of B areas into A areas had been de-notified. The federal government also paid Rs 1 billion for the rehabilitation of the internally displaced people of Dera Bugti and also Rs 128 million as compensation for the dislocation of the fishermen.
The prime minister decided that in the next cabinet meeting, ministers from Balochistan would be informed as to how much and unprecedented development works had been undertaken in the province.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Not good at all. The farmers are at aloss with this move. The farmers association warned them too. Now Pakistans agriculture will have a sharp downfall.

    • you are not geologist and economist first analysis then speak with this relation we have lots of profit india is big country and also they need our help

  2. Pakistan is being good . It’s good to love thy neighbors . But, whats the neighbor doing, accusing us of promoting terrorism , being a yes sir to those speaking against Pakistan. In other words we shouldn’t have done it !

    • We must change our mind set ! India granted Pakistan MFN status long back, so it was and will be in Pakistan's interest to reciprocate by granting MFN to India. Pakistan will be greatly benefited by this and time will tell.

  3. ppp beache ja rahe ha India k agay ,,
    ab india say 900 mega watt electricity import karnay ka plan ha ,,
    k jab marzi woh gusay say bijli bund karday , jis tara woh pani rok daytay ha !!!!

  4. If terrorism is to be defeated, we have normalise relations with India. Trade would reduce the misunderstanding between two neighbours. Now War is not an option

  5. When trade is start between India then there is no value of agri. products bcooz India provide electricity to our farmers free of cost that is the main reason of hiking price of agri.products in two countries.

    • Sure, Breakthrough to us means that you handover the part of Kashmir that you have illegally occupied and aceeded to China. Want it ?

    • Do you believe this is a one sided favor from Pakistan to India?

      Or, do you believe India would suffer if it does not get MFN status from Pakistan?

      Or, do you believe, in economic terms, Pakistan is better-off by not granting MFN status to India?

  6. There is a saying that if you can not defeat an enemy, make him friend. We have fought four wars and Kashmir still remains a problem. This will remain so if war is the method of solving. India China also have problems but still they have massive trade. Pakistani farmers will benefit the most as India needs sugar, grains and vegetables. It will help both sides to fight inflation. Please note that Kashmiris have been extracting favors from all sides and fooling everyone in the process. Time to stop pampering them.

  7. It is an open secret that the US,is pushing Pakistan towards India,with the intent to make them stay away from China and Iran…Any cohesive cooperation between the two neighbors would be a eyewash and meaningless for long term relationship.Pakistan's entry into UNSC alongside India and the nod of the Pakistan PM for the electricity supply from India, now the MFN etc, are all part of the US plan as aforesaid.

    • So you agree that US can enact so many good things for Pakistan and Pakistanis. US is then really a good friend of yours.

  8. you did very well but what about Pakistani local market i mean industry which is already suffering a lot and it is difficult for it to compete with world at present.One major issue is loadshedding and many other are also

    • Under pressure and competition population tend to engage their resources in a more productive and intelligent way building their own competence. Pakistan has a fair opportunity in directing their energy in building the infrastructure etc. for prosperity of the population. Look at what's happening in Bangladesh:

      "Bangladesh agrees nuclear power deal with Russia … Bangladesh has agreed to build two new nuclear power plants with Russian help as the country looks to close a yawning power deficit. …" (source: "http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15552687").

Comments are closed.