MFN status to be bestowed on India

Minister Hina Rabbani KharISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday told the National Assembly that the government has decided to grant most favoured (MFN) nation status to India.

Responding to a question during the question hour session in the National Assembly, she said that the dialogue process with India has started after two years gap. She said that Pakistan wants uninterrupted dialogue as the resolution of Kashmir issue could be ensured in this way. However, she made it clear that Pakistan is stick to its stance on Kashmir and wants its solution according to the will of Kashmiri people, adding that Pakistan wanted Kashmiris to be taken on board in the consultative process.

The Foreign Minister said that various achievements have been made during the dialogue with India including trade while it was also for the first time in the history of the country that the Indian Foreign Minister had attended the reception of Pakistani Foreign Minister in New York. She told the House that India would not interfere in Pakistan and European Union trade deal. She further said that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited to Pakistan and a positive response was received from him, however, no date was yet fixed for this.

To a supplementary question, Khar said that the talks between Interior Ministers of both the countries were important, however, we cannot achieve our goal over a night. But the governments are serious to improve the ties between two countries, she said. To another supplementary question, the Minister added that during the past three years, Jammu and Kashmir dispute has been discussed during all bilateral interactions between the leadership of the two countries as well as at the Foreign Secretaries level.

She said that she had raised the Jammu and Kashmir issue with her Indian counterpart at the ministerial meeting in New Delhi in July 2011. The joint statement of the ministerial meeting underscored the need for continued discussion of Jammu and Kashmir in a purposeful and forward-looking manner with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences.

To a supplementary question, she said that after the 18th amendment, provincial governments were responsible for health and education sectors, however, the federal government was aware of the problems being faced by the people and a BISP programe was being run to eliminate poverty.Similarly, responding to a question regarding Indian role in sabotaging Pakistan’s trade with European Union, Federal Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin on behalf of Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Ameen Fahim told the House that during the visit of Commerce Minister to India, the matter was discussed and now India would not oppose it.

To a supplementary question regarding announcing India as most favoured nation, the Minister said that the Parliament would be taken into confidence on the issue.To another question regarding the role of the Commercial Attaches posted abroad, the Minister said that their role was to increase foreign exchange earning of Pakistan through promoting and facilitating the expansion of Pakistan’s visible and invisible exports to the territory to which he is assigned.

However, to a supplementary question, he replied that there was no such hard rules to gadget their performance with the trade ratio but the Pakistani ambassadors keep an eye on their performances.
Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour told the House that a project for the procurement of 150 diesel electric locomotives has been approved by the ECNEC in its meeting held on December 9th, 2010.

To a supplementary question, the minister told that 19 companies have purchased the tenders, however, they have not filled these tenders yet. He said any party that would get the tender would be bound to give 6 locomotives to Pakistan Railways in a month. He further added that the ministry has banned only those train services that were given less than 50 percent of the approximate profit.

To another question, he told that in 2009 and 2010, traveling fare was not increased but in 2010 and 2011 10 percent increase in fares of passengers trains, 15 percent increase in fares of mail/express trains and 20 percent increase in parcel, luggage and freight rates was made. Answering a supplementary question, the federal Minister for Railways revealed that due to shortage of locomotives the cargo section of Pakistan Railway has almost stop working despite the fact that Railways has been getting good income from it. – Nation