Snehesh Alex Philip
Islamabad: As India and Pakistan work together to fix the nitty-gritty of bilateral trade, Islamabad Thursday said both sides need to “comprehensively” address all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and Siachen, to make the process more durable.
The Foreign Office here underlined that the forward movement in trade between Pakistan and India is taking place after due consultations.
Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, however, said Pakistan has certain concerns and those need to be addressed.
Replying to a query at her weekly press conference, Aslam said the NDMA (non-discriminatory market access) is a non-discriminatory arrangement of trade in which both sides equally benefit.
She said that opportunities should be either provided or not hindered by business community from both the sides.
“In order to make this process of trade expansion more durable, in order for our bilateral relationship to move forward on sound footing, we need to comprehensively address all the issues between our two countries.
“As you mentioned, that includes Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, water issues…,” Aslam said.
She also stressed that Pakistan does not want arms race in the region.
“The country’s (Pakistan) message is that we need to compete with each in alleviating poverty of people and not arms,” she said.
Pakistan has said it will deliver on promises made to India regarding normalisation of bilateral trade ties.
“The previous PPP government made certain promises to India on trade and we will deliver on these promises. The promises were made by Pakistan government and we are not promising anything extra,” Information Minister Parvaiz Rashid told reporters earlier this week.
While Pakistan initially agreed to grant India the most-favoured nation (MFN) status, the term has been replaced with NDMA, a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistan government to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India the MFN status.
Miftah Ismail, special assistant to the prime minister and chairman of the Board of Investment, recently told local media that India had accepted Pakistan’s demand to remove textile products from its prohibitive list.
A special government panel chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has already decided to ask the federal cabinet to approve a fresh roadmap for granting NDMA status to India.
India has agreed to provide a level-playing field to Pakistani traders and will give tariff concession on various products pertaining to strong sectors such as textile, cement, surgical instruments from here.