India hopes Pakistan will keep commitment on MFN status

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 13, 2013 16:50 hrs

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Having welcomed new Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statements on the need to build bilateral relations, New Delhi is also looking forward to Islamabad implementing its commitment on granting India Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status.

India is looking forward to Pakistan implementing its commitment on granting it MFN status when their commerce secretaries meet later this year, said an official source Thursday.

Pakistan has missed a Dec 31, 2012, deadline to end a negative list regime for trade and give MFN-status to India. India's outgoing High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal had raised the issue Tuesday during a farewell hosted by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Pakistan should implement the agreed roadmap, including granting India the Most Favoured Nation-status, he was quoted as saying.

India granted MFN-status to Pakistan in 1996, but Pakistan has been postponing granting India that status and missed several deadlines, believed to be due to its domestic political compulsions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy S.K. Lambah had met Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief, days before he was sworn in prime minister to "open up the first contact" with Sharif and to convey India's recognition of his announcements of the need to build India-Pakistan ties, the source said.

"And to convey that we stood willing to engage with Pakistan in a broad framework of cooperation," the source added.

Both sides have felt the need to "keep up" the momentum in relations and both agreed to take it forward, the source added.

India is also in talks with Pakistan on selling electricity, something that the country needs urgently, and LNG, the official added.

Even when relations had taken a dip in January this year over ceasefire violations during the killing of two Indian soldiers, including the beheading of one, both sides had kept up their dialogue on two fronts - a bilateral judicial commission to visit each other's jails and see the condition of their jailed citizens and a judicial committee on the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"There was no complete pause in the bilateral ties despite the loud demands made to do so," the official source said, adding that both sides agreed to go ahead with the two dialogues.

While Manmohan Singh sent his special envoy Lambah to meet Sharif in Lahore, his own position is very clear that he would visit Pakistan "when there is substantive progress in relations" which would make the visit "credible, useful and justify" it, the source added.

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