Indian president’s comments

Published: January 27, 2013

India's President Pranab Mukherjee's comments that that it is always ready to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan, comes as a welcome change in tone. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

The posturing over the twin Line of Control (LoC) incidents by India and Pakistan has continued unabated, despite the occasional reassuring statement. India has been by far the more belligerent party, with the government preventing Pakistani officials from attending the Jaipur Literature Festival and public opinion in the country becoming so anti-Pakistan that our hockey players had to leave the country and concerts and plays by Pakistani artists were cancelled. Even more crucially, a long-planned move to allow visas on arrival to senior Pakistani citizens was postponed indefinitely. Given these tensions, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s Republic Day speech, in which he said that peace is the country’s ultimate goal and that it is always ready to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan, comes as a welcome change in tone.

Mukherjee, however, was also circumspect, saying that Pakistan shouldn’t take India’s peaceful intentions for granted. This is a reminder we hardly needed. The LoC issue is still not close to being resolved with both sides maintaining different versions of what happened and India intractably opposed to allowing the UN to settle the matter. The Indian media, too, has gone into overdrive with anti-Pakistan sentiment. In such an atmosphere of mutual anger and mistrust, the chances of taking the peace process forward seem minimal. Neither country will want to give an inch lest they appear weak. And thus, a simple misunderstanding continues to grow and grow, leaving the progress of the last couple of years in tatters.

The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports. It is unlikely that we will go through with this move as long as current tensions persist but it may be worth a try to convince India that hateful rhetoric can quickly escalate and barter this economic agreement for a ramping down of anger and bad feeling. India also has to realise that breaking cultural and sporting ties serves absolutely no useful purpose beyond mere posturing. The increase in people-to-people contact in recent years has been one of the main engines of progress in peace talks and putting an end to that will serve the interests of no one but hawks on both sides.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.

Reader Comments (25)

  • sylmar khan
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:00AM

    I think pakistan & india should let kashmiris try for solution of kashmir. pakistan india will reject other’s solution if tried.
    Kashmiris have broken bilateral talks on kashmir, when they traveled back to pakistan.

    Unless we want to hate each other for forever we should start concentrating on solution to kashmir. Before another hazard takes place.

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  • G. Din
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:50AM

    “The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports.”
    Trust me, Pakistan holds no trump card. Huge boost? What may look “huge” to Pakistan is “pea nuts”, if even that, to India considering the quantum of its exports. Please remind yourself what Indian goods Pakistan imports now are through third parties, paying thereby not only higher transportation but the mark-ups those third parties levy. It is not likely that Pakistan will pick up much more than what it is doing already. It is in Pakistan’s own interest, and no favour to India, to accord the much-delayed MFN status to India to reap its benefits. Any other party would have been embarrassed at the inordinate and petty-minded delay in reciprocation!

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  • Raja
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:29AM

    I don’t think MFN status is going to make any difference. India had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996. Had that changed Pakistan’s attitude towards India? Kargil, Parliament attack and 26/11, all happened after that. MFN means nothing to a common Indian. One and only one solution to the Indo-Pak problems is to tone down the rhetoric of two nation theory. Indo-Pak friendship and two nation theory are contradictory.

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  • BlackJack
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:31AM

    The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports.
    I think you are deluding yourselves as to the actual impact of the MFN on Indian exports. The growth (incremental trade) India seeks every year from ASEAN or China is more than the total value of trade with Pakistan – each of these are in the USD 70 bn range and aimed at 100 bn within 3 years. Pakistan is but a drop in the bucket. MFN is more a symbolic gesture of Pakistan’s willingness to level the playing field and is not any special gesture towards India – pls stop fooling your gullible citizens that it is a bargaining chip of any significance.

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  • John B
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:39AM

    I am surprised at the tone of the editorial which seeks to establish the peace with India.

    MFN status is not a trump card or benevolent gesture of PAK to India. It is a statutory obligation which PAK is dragging.

    The VISA on arrival was put on hold by the Indians because the reciprocative arrangements with PAK is not the same and PAK started to back track on the reciprocity.

    Perhaps it is high time for PAK to come down from the citadel and think why India, which has been put up with PAK for all the nonsenses it created is at the breaking point of losing the patience.

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  • Anuj
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:49AM

    As if India cares about MFN status….and why I am not surprised at double standards of Pakistan.Recommend

  • sundar
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:13AM

    …………The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India,….

    I am one of those who believe friendship between the neighbours is good for both. But it is a myth that MFN status is a trump card for Pakistan. India has grown so for without that. Make no mistake MFN status helps. That doesn’t mean it is a trump card. Recommend

  • Nauman
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:16AM

    Isn’t he the same fellow who read the wrong speech at the UN! What credibility do any of his comments have now?

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  • Anub
    Jan 27, 2013 - 6:07AM

    WOW! The trump card that Pakistan holds? The author is misrepresenting the actual facts here. It is Pakistan that benefits from an MFN to India because that means that Pakistan can finally enter into a proper trade relationship with India. India is a much bigger country (geographically as well as economically). Pakistan will need the support of India if it is going to survive the current crisis that is happening.

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  • whats in the name
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:06AM

    How about this trump card Pakistan holds. Turn off the tap which supplies the terrorists,and also cut of the oxygen/support for the Jihadi Organizations. Things will come back to normalcy.
    Regards
    P

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  • JSM
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:29AM

    “The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports.”

    I have two submissions:

    The volume of additional trade that will come for India is too insignificant. In any case, Indian goods are reaching Pakistan through third countries. The real beneficiary from MFN with India will be a common Pakistani- powers that be in Pakistan do not desire this to happen.

    I agree that Pakistanis do not like rhetoric in Indian media and posturing by leadership- what do they expect Indian leadership and media to do in face of provocations from Pakistan- talk talk talk. Only alternative appears to be to have a complete curtain between India and Pakistan. What would Pakistanis do in case they were provoked by Indians in a similar manner?

    I request for a serious response.

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  • Foreign Leg
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:34AM

    The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India
    .
    It bemuses me to see how Pakistan twists an obligation and thinks it is a trump card. This one is no trump card at all.
    .
    MFN status is an obligation under WTO and all WTO members must accede too it. India did it 17 years ago and it has taken Pakistan this long to wake up to its obligation. In fact India has every right to use this as a trump card and reject preferential trade agreements with Pakistan at the WTO and multilateral lending organizations.

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  • Tony Singh
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:50AM

    If MFN is the only “trump card” Pakistan has, then its time it quit this high stakes game. Pakistan needs Indian market more than Indian need for access to Pakistani markets.

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  • Gratgy
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:04PM

    The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports

    You “Trump cards” usually ends up making you look like “Jokers” instead.

    India should just withdraw the MFN given to Pakistan and put up Pakistan specific trade barriers till Pakistan gives MFN to India.

    Pakistan is a small market already flooded with cheap chinese imports. While India is a huge market for Pakistan.

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  • Paki
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:32PM

    RT needs to feel the sentiments of Pakistanis, India is not MFN, but infact the most cursed nation in Pakistan (and truly so).

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  • Manju
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:11PM

    The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports.
    This from the editor!
    Sir,
    With all due respect please read about WTO commitments…..

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  • Manju
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:15PM

    India is not MFN, but infact the most cursed nation in Pakistan (and truly so).
    Give me ONE reason that you cannot trace back to Pakistan Studies…

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  • Arindom
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:32PM

    The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India

    Blockquote

    You made this comment without research – by WTF rules both India and Pakistan must give MFN to each other which India has done way back in 1996 , but Pakistan has not – a violation of the rules which India has generously overlooked.

    Secondly, India is not dying to export to Pakistan that it is a “trump card”. India’s export to other nations has been quite successful, thank you.

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  • DarKnight
    Jan 27, 2013 - 3:38PM

    @Paki:

    India is not MFN, but infact the most cursed nation in Pakistan (and truly so)

    Please say this to Ali Zafar, Adnan Sami, Veena Malik, Sara Loren, and all your cricketers who are very keen to participate in the IPL……..

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  • G. Din
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:21PM

    @Nauman:
    “Isn’t he the same fellow who read the wrong speech at the UN! What credibility do any of his comments have now?”
    No, he is not. You are probably referring to Krishna, the former External Affairs minister.
    But, do you see how, even though you are not sure of your facts, you have absolutely no problem in drawing conclusions and passing condemnatory judgements. This is typical Pakistani!
    As they say in the digital world:”Garbage in, garbage out!”

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 7:25PM

    @Nauman:
    he was SM krishna from karnatkaRecommend

  • ajeeth
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:03PM

    @ ‘The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India’.

    Who cares pak grants MFN or not. we indians are eager to do business with countries in west & east asia, latin americ, central asia & africa than etc than pakistan & Even if Pak grants MFN then it is based on the mutual interest and gains of both parties and not one sided.
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  • Naresh
    Jan 27, 2013 - 11:17PM

    @ Author : You stated : “The one trump card Pakistan holds is that it can still offer most favoured nation economic status to India, which would provide a huge boost to Indian exports.”

    In the Calendar Year 2012 – January to December – Pakistan’s Exports to India were about US$ 349.993 Million and Pakistan’s Imports from India during the same Period were US$ 1,271.317 Million.
    .
    Since Pakistan has concentrated on Arming itself – with detriment to its Economy – it cannot afford to give India MFN Status. As such it would be better if Pakistan RETURNED the Indian MFN Status otherwise Pakistan will find that its various Industries will suffer the same fate as Pakistan’s Free Trade with China, whereby, Chinese Imports have led to the Closure of over Thirty Pakistani Industries.
    .
    Thus Pakistan holds NO TRUMP CARD of providing a huge boost to Indian Exports to Pakistan as Indian Exports to Pakistan are already 3.6 Times the Indian Imports from Pakistan!
    .
    With Population of India being 6.5 Times the Population of Pakistan, Indian Exports are about 12.3 Times that of Pakistan and Indian Imports are about 12.1 Times that of Pakistan.
    .
    Cheers

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  • sadhana
    Jan 28, 2013 - 9:09AM

    Funny when Pak thinks it can lecture the Indian President on what to say and what not to say but can’t shut up one Hafiz Saeed.

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  • Ali Khan
    Feb 3, 2013 - 7:42PM

    India will need pakistanis help after 2014 we can promis you that

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