Dar rules out MFN status to India before 2014 elections

WASHINGTON: India is unlikely to be granted the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status before 2014 Lok Sabha elections and resumption of composite dialogue between the two nations, Pakistan finance minister has said.

Describing the recent meeting between the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York last month as “excellent”, the visiting Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, told a Washington audience that Islamabad had to “put on hold” granting MFN status to India in view of the public pressure in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There are public sentiments. So we had to put it (MFN status) on hold,” Dar said on Wednesday in response to a question at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based eminent American think tank.

Dar further said that MFN status is unlikely to happen before the Indian general elections early next year and resumption of composite dialogue between the two countries.
“You have to take all things forward my friend. We are very keen to move forward and start the composite dialogue as early as possible. The meeting of the two prime ministers was excellent.

“But I do understand because of some practical constraints on the Indian side, it may be difficult for political parties to take steps to move in a proactive way. We are ready. We have no issues,” he said.

Dar alleged that “there are certain hands” who always try to derail this process.
“On the MFN status, I think, with all due respect, India because of the elections is not ready to move the composite dialogue forward. I can’t go into too much detail,” he said.
Ishaq Dar said that worries over the nation s nuclear weapons were unfounded. The nuclear weapons of Pakistan are completely safe and secure and the international community should have no doubts about its security.

“I being member of the national command and control authority can say with responsibility that Pakistan’s nukes are totally in safe hands.”

“We had a recent review. The world should stop worrying about safety of nukes in Pakistan,” the minister told a Washington audience yesterday.
“This is my core message today. The world should stop worrying about the safety of nukes in Pakistan. We have absolutely responsible, a controlled check and balance system,” Dar said.

Dar, who is in Washington to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said that the new Pakistan Government is committed to eliminate extremism and they and the west are on the same page with regard to dealing with extremism.

“Economy cannot flourish unless we deal with this menace. Our own leadership has been subjected to the different hits in the past. We can’t afford. Let me assure you that our government is fully transparent. It believes in good governance. It can t tolerate any corruption at the top level.

“I can guarantee you, as far as extremism is concerned we are with the international community to do whatever we can,” he said.

Reiterating his government s commitment to economic reform, the Finance Minister said they are implementing a series of long-delayed reforms to turn around the broken economy.

“We are fully committed to reforms,” he said in his remarks.