April 11, 2013 12:55:55 am
Pakistan is likely to grant the Most Favoured Nation status to India after a new government is formed there after next months general elections. While the outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party-led government was said to have indicated its readiness to move ahead with the process,sources said any further movement could be expected only after the next government is formed.
The present government has indicated that they may move ahead with the process. Lets watch and see, said a government source.
The powerful lobby of influential agriculturists,especially from Pakistans south Punjab,was strongly opposed to the proposal and the PPP leadership was apprehensive that if they went ahead with the proposed move,it might give the Pakistan Muslim League an election issue.
This lobbys contention is that given the huge amount of subsidy that farmers get in India,MFN status could adversely harm the interest of Pakistani farmers. Extremist elements and outfits in Pakistan have already been opposing MFN status to India demanding that it should be linked to Kashmir. Recently,the pharmaceutical lobby in Pakistan also joined these groups in opposing it.
Not allowing mutual economic interests to be held hostage to territorial disputes,India had given MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 but the neighbouring country has been hesitating to reciprocate it.
In November 2011,the Pakistani Cabinet finally approved the proposal to grant MFN status to India. After the Cabinet approval,Pakistan had announced that all stakeholders,including the military,were on board,but subsequent months saw increasing opposition to it from different quarters.
While the PML has not outrightly rejected the move,a section of party leaders is said to have reservation against it. The Indian leadership is conscious of the fact that it has the potential to become an electoral issue in Pakistan and therefore,the Indian establishment has decided to adopt a wait and watch policy.
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