PIR JO GOTH: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday took pains to explain why granting India the most favoured nation (MFN) status was not the same as striking any political agreement with the country.
He also pointed out that for up to 18 years after it appeared on the world map Pakistan had allowed India MFN status – in an effort to clear up any public misgivings about the measure.
Speaking to journalists after meeting Pir of Pagara, Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi to condole the death of Pir Pagara Shah Mardan Shah, Gilani said the status granted to India, by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, did not suggest that it was Pakistan’s ‘favourite,’ rather favoured.
“Granting the MFN status to a country doesn’t mean it becomes our favourite one. National interest should always reign supreme. We should look at China as an example, despite its disputed with India, trade between the two countries stands to the tune of Rs100 billion.”
The MFN status means that the ministry of commerce is permitted to hold talks with its Indian counterpart to strike a balance in trade. He said the two countries had carried out trade worth Rs15 billion during his term.
Gilani refused to be drawn into making any comment about the contempt charge he is facing. His only words were, “either I will be martyred or I’ll return as a victor. Those who embrace martyrdom are lucky. As for now, I don’t know what will happen. Only my lawyer can elaborate.”
About the Balochistan crisis, Gilani said he had announced the summoning of an All Pakistan Conference (APC) three days earlier to discuss the United States’ congressional session on the province. “I have met the chief minister of Sindh. The APC will be summoned in order to devise a solution based on collective wisdom as soon as negotiations with key leadership have been carried out.”
Speaking about the recently held trilateral summit on regional security, the premier said Afghanistan will initiate the negotiations and Pakistan will only facilitate the talks. “I had a detailed discussion with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about this, and assured him that Pakistan is ready to support all Afghan-led negotiations.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2012.