Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday said it is actively engaged with India over liberalised trade for the last 10 months and has “almost finalised” the deal but a decision will be taken after the Lok Sabha elections.
On opening up trade with India, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government is very clear on promoting regional trade with SAARC countries.
The PML-N government is actively engaged with India for the last ten months, and “we have almost finalised everything”, he said.
“We do not want to be seen as a country supporting any political party in Indian elections therefore, we will make a decision after Indian elections,” Dar said.
He stressed that Pakistan will be happy to work with any Indian political party that wins the elections and comes to power.
A crucial cabinet meeting, set to discuss and approve the long-pending Non Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) to India last Friday, was put off at the last moment.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said the decision of granting NDMA status to India was put off due to “lack of consensus”.
“We also deferred this due to the elections in India because we did not want to favour a single political party in India,” he said during his recent visit to The Hague.
Media reports here said the Foreign Office here has for quite some time advised the government that it would not be prudent for Pakistan to give such a major political concession to the present Indian government “which is on its way out, and instead give this concession to the incoming one”.
However, many analysts here feel the powerful military establishment was behind the move to postpone the final decision on liberalised trade.
The Foreign Office has denied that it wants its own pound of flesh and is pushing for resumption of composite dialogue before granting NDMA status to India.
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.