Borrowing from Narendra Modi’s phraseology, Pakistan on Tuesday said ‘acche din aa rahe hain’ for bilateral ties with India and expressed hope that the process of granting non-discriminatory market access to the country will begin after the resumption of talks between the two.
“Let the bilateral engagement resume. Our two Prime Ministers have met and all the issues were discussed and we hope that that things will be carried forward when the time comes,” High Commissioner of Pakistan in India Abdul Basit told reporters here.
He was replying to a question on granting of MFN or NDMA status to India.
While speaking at the curtain raiser of ‘Aalishan Pakistan: 2nd Pakistan Life-Style Exhibition’, he said people of both the countries have given huge mandate to their respective leaders to create a better understanding between the two countries.
“I have no reason to doubt for a moment that acche din aa rahe hain (good days are approaching),” he said.
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Modi had used the expression ‘Ache Din Aane Wale Hain’ as a poll slogan, and handsomely won the general elections.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was here last month to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi as Modi. The two leaders had also discussions on various issues.
Pakistan has decided to postpone the grant of NDMA status to India due to lack of consensus at home.
Bilateral trade talks have been suspended since last year following escalation in violence at the LoC. In 2012, Pakistan had committed itself to giving the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India but missed its own deadline of December 31, owing to domestic opposition.
Basit also said both the two Prime Ministers have articulated their shared vision of peace and development during their meeting. He, however, added that in the time of globalisation, the South Asian region was still stuck in an outdated narrative.
“It is an irony that while globalisation has transformed the world, lifted million of people around the world from poverty, South Asia is stuck in an outdated and unhelpful narrative,” Basit said.
Pakistan has to abolish the negative list of 1,209 tradeable items. Abolishing the list of items that cannot be imported from India means the grant of NDMA status to the country. NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistani government to avoid political ramifications at home in giving India the MFN status.
Bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 2.6 billion in 2012-13. India’s main exports to Pakistan include sugar, man-made filaments and chemicals, while its imports comprise mineral fuels, among others.
Basit said the intra-SAARC trade is only 5 per cent of the region’s total trade with rest of the world, while in the case of European Union, Asean and Latin America their trade share is higher.
He said growth and development of India and Pakistan will help eliminate poverty and reduce illiteracy in the region.
On the forthcoming exhibition, Basit said that such events will complement the diplomatic side in enhancing understanding and creating more opportunities between the countries. “Such exhibitions would help in bringing our people together.”
Joint Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Arvind Mehta said the governments of both the sides are discussing ways to further liberalise the bilateral trade.
“Government-to-government level, we are so close to making the final steps that we have been working upon that the next time when you come, I hope that all your (Pakistani businesses) textiles items and other items come at no more than 5 per cent customs duty,” Mehta said.
Currently the rate of duty is high.
“This is my dream and ambition that we have to break down all the tariff walls, non-tariff barriers,” he added.