While PM says no MFN to India yet, FO says no U-turn

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As Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday said Pakistan had not yet granted India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said Pakistan had not backtracked from its decision “as the cabinet has endorsed the decision to grant MFN status to India in principle”.
The FO statement came in reaction to a Reuters report which quoted unnamed Indian officials as saying that Pakistan was bowing to domestic business interests opposed to finalizing MFN status for India. Quoting an Indian official, who requested not to be named, the Reuters report said that business and political lobbies in Pakistan appeared to have forced the move to be put on hold, leaving India to “wait and watch” as to when the process would resume. A media report from New Delhi quoted Pakistani High Commissioner in India Shahid Malik as saying, “The process of normalisation is already underway and the grant of MFN status is part of that normalisation process. There is no question of U-turn about it.” Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Lahore, Gilani said it took time to reach such a historical decision and “we will give it the green signal after making careful calculations and observing the emerging situation without compromising on national interests.”
He rejected the impression that the government had sought the military’s approval on the issue, saying the PPP-led coalition government was a democratic government which decided issues on its own after taking into confidence all stakeholders “and in this case, the stakeholders are the chambers of commerce”. Elaborating on the issue, the prime minister said the cabinet had authorised the Ministry of Commerce to deepen trade ties with India and negotiations were underway in this regard. To a query, he said there could be no forward movement without taking stock of legal and procedural requirement in the cabinet.
Gilani said if China, which had border conflicts with India, could have economic ties and direct trade links with New Delhi, so could Pakistan. He was of the view that the government would take the matter before parliament on receiving a go-ahead from the Ministry of Commerce.Revealing more details, he said the government allies did not have any objections over bridging trade ties with India. “We have just empowered the Ministry of Commerce to negotiate trade issues with India and of now there is nothing beyond it that,” he added. However, he evaded discussing basic dynamics of developing trade relationship with India.

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