`MFN status to India can lead to peace`

The Pakistani editorial said that contradictory statements from different quarters had created avoidable confusion.

Islamabad: Pakistan granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India "can lead to a peace dividend", said a Pakistani daily Sunday.

The News International editorially said the talk in the subcontinent has long been about a political logjam on the economics: "a workable and acceptable deal to openly trade with India has been precluded by concerns about the consequences that normalising trade relations with India could have on Pakistan`s security".

It said that an addition in this saga of "misplaced insecurity relates to the granting of Most Favoured Nation Status to India".

After a week of "wondering what the status of MFN status really was", Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Friday that Pakistan had not yet granted India MFN status. This came after Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan had categorically declared two days earlier that the decision to grant the status to India was final.

The editorial noted that there is "no doubt that incoherent, contradictory signalling and statements from different quarters have created avoidable confusion".

It went on to say that granting MFN status to India would strengthen Islamabad`s case for the "removal of non-tariff barriers, a major source of the current inequity in bilateral trade between the two countries, which mostly accrues to Pakistan`s disadvantage".

The editorial said MFN status would not only reduce the informal trade between Pakistan and India, it would help generate more revenue and create incentives for Pakistan to improve the quality of its products to be able to compete with Indian imports.

Trade between India and Pakistan, currently at around $2.5 billion, is expected to double over the next three years on account of Pakistan granting MFN status to India.

"...economic integration of the region could help reduce strategic tensions here. Business and trade interests must become more vocal now and try to create consensus around the idea that economic integration has the potential of transforming the relationship between India and Pakistan to Pakistan`s advantage.

"...the fact that the normalisation of the economic relationships can lead to a peace dividend is probably the most significant argument in its favour," it added.


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