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Top Pak ministers back MFN status to India

Last Updated: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 18:29

Islamabad: Two senior Pakistani ministers
on Friday backed the government`s move to grant Most Favoured
Nation (MFN) status to India amid the ambiguity and confusion
over the process.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defence Minister
Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, both from the ruling Pakistan People’s
Party, welcomed the move to grant MFN status in public
comments.

Malik said the measure "would have a positive impact on
bilateral relations".

However, he said parliament should reverse the decision
to give India MFN-status if it considered it was not
favourable.

Mukhtar, a businessman who owns the Servis Group, today
said granting MFN status to India would have "positive impacts
on the economy of both countries".

Talking to reporters at Lalamusa in Punjab, Mukhtar said
the government had acted on the move to grant India the
MFN-status, which had been pending for 30 years.

Malik told reporters outside parliament yesterday that he
personally believed good relations between neighbouring
countries always had a positive impact on bilateral relations.

Though Information Minister Firdous Awan announced on
Wednesday that the cabinet had unanimously approved a proposal
to give India MFN status, the Foreign Office said yesterday
that the cabinet had only "decided in principle to according
MFN to India" and both countries would have to work towards
the goal in future engagements.

The move to grant MFN status has been welcomed by several
trade lobbies in Pakistan.

The Pakistan-India Business Council today said the move
would be beneficial for boosting bilateral trade.

The move "would have positive economic and political
impacts on the relations of both the countries", PIBC chairman
Noor Muhammad Kausuri said.

He lauded the efforts of Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin
Fahim to bring India and Pakistan closer.

Increasing contacts between the two countries would help
improve the standard of life of common people and bring
progress and prosperity, Kasuri said.

The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an apex body
of chambers of the region, too welcomed the move, with the
body`s vice-president, Iftikhar Ali Malik, saying it would
improve trade relations.

In the emerging economic scenario worldwide, Pakistan
cannot live in isolation in the region, he said.

The entire trade liberalisation process must be linked to
the removal of non tariff-barriers by the Indian government,
he added.

During the finalization of a roadmap for normalising
trade with India, the interests of the Pakistani business
community should be safeguarded, Malik said.

However, the Jamaat-e-Islami has opposed any move to give
Indian MFN-status.

Jameet leader Syed Waseem Akhtar said such a measure
would undermine Pakistan’s solidarity and affect its economy.
The move would "create more hurdles for the solution of
the Kashmir issue", he claimed.

PTI

First Published: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 11:23
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