‘Not at Kashmir’s cost’: Political parties create uproar over trade concessions to India

Opposition leader says PML-N has doubts that MFN status will make India change stance on Kashmir.

Zahid Gishkori/Zia Khan October 21, 2011

ISLAMABAD: A proposed government plan to grant India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status suffered multiple shocks on Thursday when the main opposition party, a bipartisan parliamentary panel on Kashmir and pro-establishment political outfits opposed it in unison.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar informed the National Assembly last week that the government had, in principle, decided to give India MFN status and a formal announcement was likely any time.

It is, however, not known whether the decision has the backing of the military-dominated establishment, which says that most of the threats to the country’s security and territorial integrity are emanating from the east.

The loudest opposition to the plan came from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which said it did not want war with India but had ‘serious concerns’ on giving New Delhi the MFN, a privilege through which one country gives trade concessions to the other.

A parliament’s special committee on Kashmir, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam- Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also joined the chorus against what is seen as a big leap forward to normalise relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Speaking at a news conference here, National Assembly Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said his PML-N party had doubts that any concession to India would ever make it change its stance on Kashmir.

“I tell you, it is unrealistic to think that India will give up its hard line on Kashmir,” said Nisar in a statement in sharp contradiction to a recent public speech by PML-N President Nawaz Sharif in which he advocated cordial relations between the rivals, a position that earned him a barrage of criticism from other political factions.

“Trade with India should not be at the cost of Kashmir,” the opposition leader added. “We should not expect New Delhi to alter its position, because Musharraf gave them several concessions but none worked.”

One of Nisar’s objections to the proposal was that neither the opposition party nor the parliament was taken into confidence prior to taking a decision which touched national interest. “There must have been a parliamentary debate on it,” he argued.

In a separate statement, the secretariat of the All-Party Kashmir Committee urged the government to withdraw the plan because it was “not in accordance with the aspirations of millions of countrymen”.

“We will not let the government grant India MFN status because it never consulted us on the issue,” said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also chief of the Kashmir Affairs Committee.

“We have written our dissenting notes to the foreign and commerce ministries on the issue,” said Rehman.

The JI – a political party with little presence in the parliament but considerable street power – also asked the government to withdraw its decision and extend its full support to the Kashmir liberation movement.

Concerned about the ECP and NAB

At his news conference, Nisar also criticised the government for ignoring enacting a correspondence law in pursuance of last year’s 18th constitutional amendment to give legal cover to the appointment of members to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Chaudhry said that by delaying the key legislation, the government wanted to keep the ECP under constant pressure ahead of general elections.

He also said that in the next couple of days the PML-N would file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the appointment of Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari as the chief of the National Accountability Bureau.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.

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COMMENTS (52)

Jahanzeb Khan | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend @vivek ruparel: Tone down. Kashmir where people have protested for the last 64 years is your Hindu occupied Kashmir,. Division of Pakistan and Indian in 1947 was that Muslim Majority Areas On the western Part of the subcontinent were to become part of Pakistan including Kashmir. That's why it's Occupied by Your Hindu forces. As far as the economy is concern < it's none of your Business. It's your sick brain instead of us. So go and get it fixed. If you do the personal Attacks Indi Boy, You must be aware that we are not short on courage. It was you who were ruled by the British not Pashtoons . So, Look at your History first and learn some lessons. Don't pass on your Centuries old fears that you always live under , to us. Point is what your Hindu State Govt. is doing to Hindu Occupied kashmir is State Sponsored terrorism against the Majority Muslim population. You and others here will deny it, but we don't care never does the world because they know very well who is the real Terrorist in Occupied Kashmir. Hahaha don't try to Play bangladesh card here or Shia Sunni or other. Bangladesh is an example of your State's terrorism and intervention when it was none of your Business. If it had to become autonomous it should have been without your Intervention. But it proves that for decades You had been supporting terrorism at the state level. Tamil tigers another example where your Hindu State was trying to do the same it did in bangladesh. Look, You can not continue with this terrorist State Policy for ever. It's simply a matter of time when your own terms comes. As far as the baloch hate us or not is none of your Business.... who likes you in your own neighborhood at people level? Can you name one country? This is what your real worth is ad you are giving s lectures?
Vineet | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Jahanzeb Khan problem is that you don't understand the concept of modern secular state. Calling India a "hindu state" is fine as long as you are in Zia's Islamic Republic of Pakistan but outside anywhere in the civilized world, people including "muslims" will laugh Mind you if Indian boots are ever in Afganistan, don't be so sure that they are hindus. Regards Vineet
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