- Foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India set to meet in Islamabad on August 25 in the neighbouring countries’ latest attempt at improving ties
- Foreign secy denies Indian allegations of LoC ceasefire violations by Pakistan
While rejecting Indian Army’s allegations of infiltration attempts, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry Thursday said that Pakistan would restart work on improving trade ties with India when the two nations’ foreign ministers meet in Islamabad next month.
Speaking to journalists at the Foreign Office, Chaudhry rejected the allegations levelled by an Indian general Wednesday that their army was fighting the biggest group of infiltrators on the border who crossed the border from Pakistan.
Sharing the details of his telephonic conversation with Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, Chaudhry said that the matter of recent firing on the Line of Control (LoC) also came under discussion.
“Our response was that Pakistan has accurate information that firing at working boundary was carried out from across the boundary.”
On the granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, the foreign secretary said that both the countries were engaged in a series of discussions to normalise trade relations.
“When the dialogue process resumes, we hope to build on the work already done in this regard.”
The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India are set to meet in Islamabad on August 25 in the neighbouring countries’ latest attempt at improving ties.
The proposed meeting comes after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi following the Hindu hardliner’s inauguration in May.
Chaudhry said there were number of issues on both sides for normalising bilateral trade which included “making sure that vulnerable sectors are protected and the issue of the non-tariff barriers in India and the issue of imbalance of trade and certain other infrastructure-related issue.”
MFN status will mean India that can export 6,800 items to Pakistan, up from around 2,000 at present, and the countries aim to lift bilateral trade to $ 6 billion within three years, officials have said.
Trade between the two countries is presently around $ 2.5 billion, with Indian exports accounting for $ 1.75 billion, according to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A further $3 billion is thought to be channelled through Dubai, almost all of it in Pakistani imports, though the business community believes that if Pakistan grants India MFN status the imbalance could change.
India and Pakistan have directed their peace efforts towards “trade diplomacy” in a bid to build enough trust to tackle thornier issues that divide them, such as the Kashmir dispute.