Pak Parliament panel voices reservations
MFN-status to India
Islamabad, Nov 18: A top Pakistani Parliamentary panel has expressed reservations about the government's move to grant the Most Favoured Nation-status to India with some of its members claiming that the measure would "destroy" the domestic agriculture sector.
Members of the Public Accounts Committee, which is headed by the ruling PPP lawmaker Nadeem Afzal Chan, voiced their reservations during a meeting and sought a detailed briefing on the matter from the Commerce Ministry after 'Muharram' holidays.
The PPP-led government has repeatedly said it is committed to phasing out a negative list regime for trade with India by December 31 and granting MFN-status by the beginning of next year.
The two countries have taken several steps in recent months, including the signing of three agreements, to boost bilateral trade to USD six billion by 2014.
However, members of the Public Accounts Committee expressed concern over the move to do away with the negative list regime during a meeting on Friday and some even claimed it would "destroy" the domestic agriculture industry.
Committee member Noor Alam Khan of the PPP said India gave subsidies to its farmers while Pakistan's agricultural industry was on the "brink of disaster".
He claimed MFN-status is being given to India due to "foreign pressure."
Pertinently, Pakistan granted India most favoured nation status in a move to liberalise trade between the two recently.
The move, which was unanimously agreed by Pakistani cabinet was believed to improve ties between the rivals.
Trade has long been tied to politics for the hostile neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.
There are hopes that progress in trade ties will help bolster a fragile peace process, which the two countries resumed in February, with political implications likely to outweigh any practical benefits the deal might bring.
"This was a decision taken in the national interest and all stakeholders, including our defence institutions, were on board," Firdos Ashiq Awan, the Pakistani information minister had told the reporters after the decision.
Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its history, sets security and foreign policy.
India broke off talks after the attack on Mumbai in November 2008 by Pakistan-based militants that killed 166 people.
While India granted Pakistan most favoured nation status in 1996, Pakistan hesitated. Officials in Islamabad want New Delhi to remove non-trade barriers against Pakistan goods.
Pakistan has long complained that Indian quality standards and customs procedures have hindered the flow of its goods into India.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 18 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 18 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST
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