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Pakistan will not backtrack: Khar on MFN status

Last updated on: November 9, 2011 20:11 IST

Pakistan will not backtrack: Khar on MFN status

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Snehesh Alex Philip in Addu (Maldives)

Noting that Indo-Pak ties are "complex" and "complicated", Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday said Islamabad is not backtracking on its decision to normalise bilateral trade with New Delhi of which Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status is a part.

Underlining that Pakistani military was an important stakeholder in the country's foreign policy, Khar said Indo-Pak relations should "not be bogged down" by the past.

"We want tomorrow to lead today rather than yesterday to define today and tomorrow," Khar told PTI in this picturesque city.

Asked about the confusing statements emerging from Pakistan about the MFN status being given to India, Khar, who is here for the SAARC summit, said emphatically, "We will not backtrack on a cabinet decision. So let me categorically say that and I don't see a lot of room for confusion."

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Image: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khar adjusts her scarf during the SAARC countries foreign ministers meeting in Addu.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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Explaining the process, she said, "It (MFN status) wasn't on a negotiating table with India that Pakistan had committed to India and now Pakistan is backtracking."

"This was an internal process for Pakistan. And so basically I can tell you categorically that the cabinet gave its approval for normalisation of trade ties with India. Now this includes many things... normalisation of trade ties is a process which MFN is one of the many things in it," she said.

The minister argued that MFN is no status to be awarded to another country and is just a way to end non-discriminatory tariff regime between two countries.

Asked where she saw Indo-Pak ties going with the focus on trade getting prominence, Khar said, "I don't want to look at it from the lens of a singular focus. Because that would not be doing justice to the length and breadth of this relationship which is complex complicated."

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Image: A Maldives army soldiers ride on a scooter past the convention centre for the SAARC summit in Addu.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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Khar said there is complete commitment from both sides. "I can say this, I think I have always received reciprocation of commitment to work in a positive way on this relationships."

She talked about the ongoing dialogue process between the two sides and said, "We are continuing to be involved in a dialogue process, the next track is going to start very soon."

She said it was important to look at all elements.

"Each one of those elements are extremely important. I don't think you can pick and choose. You cannot afford to pick and choose because if you pick and choose the easy things to do and completely ignore or try and act as if other things don't exist, then you will fall in a deep turf very soon because you can take some steps but eventually you will fall," a confident Khar said.

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Image: Men load sacks of dates onto a truck at a dry port before transporting them to India at Wagah border.
Photographs: Mohsin Raza/Reuters
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She added, "So you have to ensure that you work in a manner where you are looking at all the issues as they exist."

Talking about perceptions that Pakistani army regulates and guides the country's foreign policy, a combative Khar tried turning the table the other way around.

"There is a perception in Pakistan that the military or the establishment in India backtracked on the advancement which was made in some issues, we were not able to resolve them," she said.

Khar quickly added, "So there can be perceptions. It does not have to be true perception."

She said every country's foreign policy has many stakeholders and the military happens to be one of those like in India or the US and many other countries.

"So clearly they are important stakeholders. Between these two countries, you had a past track record which does not give us a lot of confidence and yet we don't want to be bogged down by history."


Image: A Maldives army soldier stands guard near the flags of the SAARC countries in Addu.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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