Pak's turnaround on MFN: PM says status not granted to India

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Yousuf Raza Gilani
Islamabad, Nov 5: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has made it clear that Pakistan has not granted the Most Favoured Nation status to India, saying the Commerce Ministry has only been tasked to move forward on the issue in bilateral negotiations.

"The Cabinet has only given its approval in principle to move forward on the issue (of MFN) and permitted the Ministry of Commerce, which is actively engaged in trade talks with New Delhi, to negotiate with it trade-related issues," Gilani told reporters at his home in Lahore last night.

"We will give it the go-ahead if the situation is quite favourable and in the national interest. Otherwise, proceedings on it would be withheld," the Premier was quoted as saying by the media.

Gilani's remarks came against the background of a flip-flop by the Pakistan government on the issue of whether India had been granted MFN status. Information Minister Firdous Awan had announced on Wednesday that the Cabinet had "unanimously approved" a proposal to give India the MFN status.

The Foreign Office subsequently clarified the Cabinet had only taken an in-principle decision on the issue and both countries would have to work towards the goal in further engagements. According to one media report, Gilani said during his interaction with the reporters that the MFN issue does not involve the army.

The Premier was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that only the business communities and stock exchanges of Pakistan and India are "legitimate stakeholders" in the issue and both were "on board" along with the parties in the ruling coalition. 

PTI

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