MFN status unlikely during Sharma’s Pakistan visit

February 13th, 2012 - 8:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Attari-Wagah Border, Feb 13 (IANS) Pakistan Monday said it is committed to granting the most-favoured nation (MFN) status to India, but refused to set a time-frame as some issues are yet to be resolved by the two neighbours.

“It is under process, we are working on it,” Pakistan Commerce Minister Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim said at a joint briefing with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma at the Indo-Pak border here.

The Pakistani cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Nov 2, 2011, had decided in principle to grant MFN status to India. However, the decision had not been implemented yet.

Before leaving for his four-day visit to Pakistan, the Indian commerce minister had hoped that Pakistan would keep its promise of granting the MFN status and a substantial decision was likely to be announced during his visit.

Pakistan’s commerce minister, however, said the decision on full implementation was unlikely during the visit as some issues were yet to be resolved.

Sharma is leading the largest Indian business delegation to Pakistan, comprising chief executives of over 100 Indian companies.

Asked whether the MFN status was likely by the end of this year, Fahim said: “How can I give you a timeframe, when the things are under discussion.”

The MFN status could be a step forward in strengthening ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours whose relations have been marred for decades hostilities by a host of issues, including Kashmir and terrorism.

India had accorded the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 and is treating it on par with other trading partners.

Once Pakistan gives the MFN status to India, Pakistan will have to treat India on par with its other trading partners.

The Indian commerce minister, accompanied by a large delegation of officials, mediapersons and business leaders, is on a reciprocal visit to Pakistan on invitation of his Pakistani counterpart.

The Pakistan commerce minister, accompanied by 80-member business delegation, had visited India in September last year.

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at gyanendra.k@ians.in)

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