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Pak rules out granting MFN status to India

Ruling out the extension of MFN status, Pak asks India to create a level-playing field by removing non-tariff barriers.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 19:00 IST

Pakistan has ruled out extending the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, saying it should instead create "a level-playing field by removing non-tariff barriers".

Without directly commenting on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's remarks during his visit here that Pakistan should implement SAFTA in total to encourage free trade in the region, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, "Pakistan was in favour of level-playing field by removing non-tariff barriers".

"Extending MFN is not the only solution to promote trade but there should be level-playing field", he was quoted as saying by a Pakistan news agency on Monday.

Aziz, who has been invited to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in New Delhi this year, said the implementation of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) came up for discussion during his meeting with Mukherjee on January 13.

Aziz categorised Mukherjee's visit as part of the process to promote interactions that would facilitate solutions to the problems including Kashmir.

The prime minister said discussions were also held on easing of travel restrictions between the two countries.

He said both India and Pakistan have great human resources, which could become a major force in the world once they are able to resolve outstanding bilateral disputes.

Without referring to the World Bank arbitration over the Baglihar power project, he said both Pakistan and India need to observe the Indus Basin Treaty signed in 1960 in both letter and spirit so that new projects are executed strictly in accordance with the treaty.

Experts from the World Bank were expected to deliver their verdict next month.

Commenting on a statement of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking Pakistan to do more in the war on terrorism, Aziz said Pakistan had done a lot because it was in our own interest.

Aziz said Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed during his recent trip to Kabul that refugee camps close to the border should be closed.

The refugees must go back to their country to live a normal life, he said, adding that once these camps are closed we will be able to further control cross-border movement of insurgents.

First Published: Jan 15, 2007 17:27 IST