Islamabad: Pakistan has once again sent out confusing signals on granting MFN status to India, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani telling lawmakers that a decision is “yet to be taken” on the issue for which bilateral negotiations would be held.
Responding to points raised by lawmakers in the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament yesterday, Gilani said the people and Parliament would be taken into confidence on the issue of giving MFN status to India.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) speaks as his Pakistan’s counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani (2nd R), and Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar watch during their joint news conference on the sidelines of the 17th SAARC summit, at Maldives. (File Photo) Reuters
“The Cabinet unanimously gave permission to the commerce ministry that they should go and negotiate with India (on normalising trade relations),” he said.
Noting that the Commerce Secretaries of the two countries had met in New Delhi, he said that a decision is yet to be made on the MFN issue. “Let the results come and we’ll apprise the whole country and take the Parliament into confidence. How can we take them into confidence prior to any decision? This decision is yet to be taken.”
Information minister Firdous Awan had recently announced at a news conference that the Cabinet had unanimously approved the granting of MFN status to India.
Gilani and other leaders subsequently clarified that the Cabinet had approved the normalisation of trade relations with India, and this process would eventually lead to the granting of MFN status.
During the commerce secretary-level talks in Delhi this week, Pakistan had agreed to open its market for over 7,000 items from India in the next three months and promised to grant New Delhi the crucial MFN status by 2012 end.
Pakistan had also sent out positive signals on the MFN issue during Gilani’s talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the November 10-11 Saarc Summit in Maldives.