The process of granting most favoured nation (MFN) status to India was still in its embryonic stage, said a minister during the question hour session of the National Assembly, as deliberations between the two countries to remove certain reservations by Pakistan are underway.
Textile Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin added that the commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan were discussing the issue “to remove all reservations and to make the move mutually beneficial.”
In a written reply to a query, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim told the house that Pakistan had given MFN status to all its trading partners in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), leaving out India and Israel.
“The imports from India are limited to the items included in Annex G of the Import Policy Order and imports from Israel are prohibited under this order,” said the minister. He added that one of the benefits from increased trade between the two countries would be the creation of jobs in export sectors.
Fahim also commented on the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, saying that the agreement gave Pakistan access to Central Asian states through 17 routes offered by Afghanistan. In return, Afghanistan would have access to Pakistan’s sea ports including Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar ports.
Permanent UN membership
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar informed the National Assembly that Pakistan was not seeking permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council but it is advocating a reform that is based on the principle of sovereign equality of member states as enshrined in the UN charter.
“The very notion of permanent membership negates the essence of democracy and accountability so we have opposed creation of new centres of privilege by expansion in the permanent membership category for individual member states,” Khar said.
The minister said Pakistan had consistently advocated for expansion in the non-permanent membership category of the UN Security Council.
Federal Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour told the National Assembly that Pakistan Railways (PR) was in the process of procuring 150 diesel electric locomotives within the next three years, adding that the invitation for international bidding proposals was underway. Bilour also said that PR had acquired no locomotives on lease in 2011-12.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2011.
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