Islamabad: Pakistan has not backtracked on
the issue of giving India Most Favoured Nation-status and
officials of the two countries will work out modalities for
normalising bilateral trade relations, Foreign Minister Hina
Rabbani Khar said on Saturday.
"There is an impression in the media that Pakistan made a
decision (on MFN) and then backtracked. This is totally wrong.
I want to tell you that we are consistent," Khar told
reporters during an interaction in the eastern city of Lahore.
"We are absolutely not backtracking (on MFN). Pakistan is
a responsible state and decision-making happens within a
responsible environment," she said.
The federal cabinet "unanimously approved" a move to
normalise trade relations with India during a meeting on
Wednesday and "MFN is part of the normalisation of trade
ties", she said.
This process of normalisation of trade relations will be
handled by the Commerce Ministry in upcoming talks with India,
The Commerce Secretaries of the two sides are scheduled
to meet in New Delhi later this month.
Khar`s comments came against the backdrop of a flip-flop
by Pakistan on the MFN issue.
Information Minister Firdous Awan announced on Wednesday
that the cabinet had approved a move to give India MFN-status
while the Foreign Ministry later clarified that both countries
would work towards this goal in future engagements.
Khar contended that giving India MFN-status did not
amount to a "conferment or a notification or an award".
MFN is an "important component" of the normalisation of
bilateral trade relations, she said.
Since talks between the Commerce Secretaries of the two
countries resumed earlier this year, Pakistan has said it has
"no objection" to giving MFN-status to India, Khar said.
At the same time, she sought to link the MFN issue to the
removal of a discriminatory trade regime and non-tariff
barriers by India.
"When a discriminatory tariff regime no longer exists,
they will get MFN- status. It`s part of a process," Khar said.
Islamabad is hopeful that there will be forward movement
on the part of both countries, she added.
Khar said there had been some "tangible outcomes" since
India and Pakistan resumed their stalled dialogue process
earlier this year.
"We can see there is a constructive engagement. We have
repeatedly said that we want this dialogue process to be
result-oriented (as well as) uninterrupted and
uninterruptible," she said.
Some of the tangible outcomes were India`s support for
Pakistan in elections to a non-permanent seat in the UN
Security Council and its decision not to stand in the way of
preferential market access given to Pakistan by the European
Union, Khar said.
"This is a new tradition and it`s a good tradition. It`s
good for the region and our country," she added.
In response to a question on US drone strikes within
Pakistan, Khar said Islamabad’s position in this regard was
"clear and consistent".
The drone attacks were "at best counterproductive" and
"This is something which inhibits us, inhibits the war
that we`re trying to fight and inhibits Pakistan`s efforts...
In principle, we are against (drone strikes being) used as a
policy tool," Khar said.