Cannes: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday welcomed Pakistan`s decision to grant Most Favoured Nation status to India but said it should have been done long ago.
"Better late than never. I welcome it," Singh told reporters here in this French coastal resort when asked about Pakistan`s decision to grant MFN status to India.
He said, "as one who believes that, rightly or wrongly, the destinies of countries in South Asia are very closely linked. I welcome the decision of Pakistan to grant us the Most Favoured Nation treatment."
However, the Prime Minister felt this decision should have come long ago.
"I think it is nearly 17 years ago when India gave most favoured nation status to Pakistan unilaterally and Pakistan has taken so much time," Singh said.
Pakistan Cabinet had on Wednesday decided to grant MFN status to India but later it gave confusing signals by saying that it was only a move for normalisation of bilateral trade relations that will "culminate" with MFN.
India had granted Pakistan MFN status way back in 1996 but Islamabad had so far held out on reciprocating due to opposition from some trade lobbies and religious and hardline political parties which contended that such a move would harm
the country`s stand on the Kashmir issue.
The Prime Minister went on to add that the Pakistan`s decision was a reflection within the SAARC context, countries can work together to realise growth potential.
"If this is a reflection of a new change, a new mindset, I welcome it. We have to watch," Singh said.