ISLAMABAD: In a sign of an increasing thaw in frosty relations between Islamabad and Delhi, Pakistan has, in principle, decided to grant Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.
“It’s our top priority to ensure uninterrupted dialogue with India, so that resolution of core issues could be ensured,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday.
The MFN status for India comes in return for lifting non-tariff restrictions on imports from Pakistan.
Simply put, MFN status provides trade equality among partners by ensuring that an importing country will not discriminate against another country’s goods in favour of those from a third. Once the importing country grants any type of concession to a third country, this concession must be given to all other countries.
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Khar spoke about improving relations with India. “We have achieved ground on trade with India. And for the first time in history, an Indian foreign minister attended a reception hosted by Pakistan’s foreign minister in New York,” Khar said referring to her recent meeting with SM Krishna on the fringes of the US General Assembly session.
Pakistan appears to have put aside festering issues with India, including the Kashmir dispute, that have marred economic relations between the two neighbours. But Khar sought to allay such fears, saying that the Kashmir issue had been discussed in all bilateral interactions between the two countries during the last three years.
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“I raised the Jammu and Kashmir issue with my Indian counterpart at the ministerial meeting in New Delhi in July 2011. The joint statement of the ministerial meeting underscored the need for continued discussion on Jammu and Kashmir in a purposeful and forward-looking manner with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing down divergences and building convergences,” Khar said.
She said Pakistan wanted good relations with India by sticking to its “principled stance” on Kashmir.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2011.