Islamabad: Putting the ball in India’s court, Pakistan today said it will extend the Non-Discriminatory Market Access once New Delhi “completes” the actions that were agreed to between the two countries.

The Commerce Ministry here will submit a summary to the federal cabinet on the “updated position” on trade normalisation process with India. The cabinet meeting is likely to take place on March 21.

When asked about media reports that bilateral trade normalisation might take place as soon as this month, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said: “As the named indicates, NDMA means non-discriminatory trade. There are number of things in that respect which India is expected to take (up).”

Addressing the weekly press briefing here, she referred to the meeting that took place in New Delhi between the Commerce Ministers of the two countries in January on the sidelines of the SAARC Business conclave.

“Some timelines were agreed for certain actions by India as well as by Pakistan and once India completes those actions, NDMA will be given by both sides to each other,” Aslam said.

Replying to a question on the perception that Pakistan Foreign Office is not so much in favour of the decision to fast-track trade process with India, she said: “This is not correct that Foreign Office is opposing it. It is a decision that government of Pakistan takes after consultation with all stakeholders.”

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir said in an interview to Business Recorder today that Islamabad is waiting for New Delhi’s response to acceptance of “some specific conditions” which will lead to trade liberalisation on a reciprocal basis and without a positive response the process cannot go forward.

He said the Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are extensively engaged in consultations on this sensitive issue.

Asked as to when a confirmation from New Delhi is expected, Pakistan Commerce Minister expressed ignorance, but said that there may be a delay as general elections are scheduled to be held in India in April.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sources said, maintains that even though election fever has hit the Indian political scene, in the event that the Indian government wants to go forward, Pakistan should support it.

He has directed the Commerce Ministry to take the sensitive industries, especially the auto sector, on board prior to reaching any agreement.

Free Press Journal

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