Islamabad: Pakistan postponed the decision to grant Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India to avoid favour to a particular Indian political party ahead of Lok Sabha polls and due to lack of consensus at home, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said.
Speaking to the media after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of a two-day nuclear summit in The Hague, Sharif said he had directed his team to talk to all stakeholders and develop consensus on the matter.
He admitted that the decision to grant "MFN" (most-favoured nation) status to India was postponed because of a lack of consensus, Dawn News reported.
"We also deferred this due to elections in India because we did not want to favour single political party in India," Sharif added.
A media report had said that the main stumbling block was the Foreign Ministry here. However, the Ministry has denied such claims.
But analysts say the Ministry wants to extract its own pound of flesh before granting the NDMA status to India.
The Ministry has reportedly advised the Prime Minister that firstly, the present timing for such a move is not right and secondly, trade between Pakistan and India should grow with the simultaneous progress on other irritants between the two neighbours.
Bilateral talks have been suspended since last year following escalation in violence at the LoC.
In 2012, Pakistan had committed itself to giving the MFN status to India after a strong persuasive note by the World Bank, and having done all the necessary spadework in this regard, opted to miss its own deadline of December 31, owing to domestic opposition and reciprocal response from New Delhi.
Pakistan had last week said it will strike a liberalised trade deal with India only after a new government takes over following the Lok Sabha elections starting April 7.
The government here had put off a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday that was to discuss among other things the long-pending NDMA status to India.
The cabinet meeting was to take two important decisions regarding trade with India abolishing the negative list of tradable items (1,209 items) and allowing import of more than 7,000 items via Wagah border.
Abolishing the negative list, items that cannot be imported from India, means the grant of NDMA status to the neighbouring country. Currently, only 138 items are importable from India via Wagah border.
NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistan government to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India the MFN status.