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Pak yet to grant MFN-status to India: minister

world Updated: Mar 06, 2013 14:36 IST

Pakistan has not yet granted Most Favoured Nation-status to India and is maintaining a negative list regime for trade with the neighbouring country, a Pakistan federal minister said on Wednesday.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abbas Khan Afridi made the remarks during question hour in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

The elimination of the negative list regime after the approval of the cabinet will culminate in the grant of MFN-status to India, he said.

Afridi said India had already granted MFN-status to Pakistan in 1996.

Pakistan missed its own December 31 deadline for phasing out the negative list regime.

The government put on hold the move to give MFN-status in the wake of intense lobbying by some industries and opposition from hardline and extremist groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Defa-e-Pakistan Council.

Sources told PTI that the Pakistan People's Party-led government, which will complete its five-year term on March 16, has decided to leave the issue of giving MFN-status to India to the administration that will be formed after the general election expected to be held in May.

In a separate development, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani today informed the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate or upper house of parliament that trade between India and Pakistan has touched USD 2 billion a year.

However, Jilani told the parliamentary panel that "true friendship between Pakistan and India cannot be established without the solution of contentious issues".

He acknowledged that conflict between the two countries would have "catastrophic effects on the region", state-run Radio Pakistan reported.