ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has put on hold the grant of Non Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India aiming at resumption of composite dialogue with new Indian government.
This was gist of a briefing given to a group of MPs on the ‘Prospects of Upcoming Indian Elections and Its Impact on Pak-India Relations’ organised by Pakistan-India Parliamentary Friendship Group at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) here on Thursday. Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, convener of the group, who is also the Chairman Standing Committee of National Assembly on Foreign Affairs, hosted the briefing.
During his welcome address, Awais Leghari informed the participants regarding the activation of the Pakistan-India PFG in the 14th National Assembly. "In order to promote the vision of the Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the group would be working on organising such activities frequently so as to promote Parliamentary role in friendship," the convener added.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence, Salman Bashir, former foreign secretary and a renowned analyst Dr Rasul Bakhsh Raees briefed the participants regarding the upcoming elections in India. The participants noted that owing to the importance of India as an important regional player and its geographic location in the world's most volatile region, the elections would have domestic as well as global repercussions.
Later, during Q&A session the panelists observed that India wanted Pakistan to have a piecemeal approach on its bilateral disputes and was more interested in having trade ties, whereas Pakistan wanted resolution through composite dialogue.
Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir who had to face volley of quarries among the panelists said that India wanted selective approach rather than having composite dialogue process, therefore, it is imperative that Pakistan rethinks its policy of engagement with India.
He was of the view that Pakistan should follow its principled policy with consistency to ensure its credibility.
He cited the example of India-China relations saying both the neighbouring countries have border dispute but had opened up bilateral trade, which has increased multifold from $400 million to $75 billion over the few years.
He also emphasised the need for engaging various Indian state governments instead of engaging the federal government arguing this is a must because of Indian diversity.
Dr Rasul Bakhsh Raees stressed the need for having more think tanks to understand the real issues and to evolve meaningful policy rather than focusing on what country's defence establishment says.
He was of the view that narrative of national interest needs to be changed and favoured commencement of trade between the two countries as a starting point.
Earlier, a maiden meeting of Pakistan-India Parliamentary Friendship Group (PFG) was held in the National Assembly on April 2. Convener of the PFG, Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, presided over the meeting. The Convener underscored the importance of parliamentary friendship groups in promoting the parliamentary diplomacy and desiring the parliamentarians to play an effective role in strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.
A large number of members participated in the meeting and contributed much towards devising ways and means to normalize relationship between the two close neighbors so that through peace and prosperity achieved by continuing dialogue process may bear fruit for the entire region. It was brought home to the participants of the meeting that the overall dialogue process facing currently a deadlock may receive a new impetus through parliamentary efforts where the PFG as voice of the elected Institutions on both sides of the border could have a key role to play in pushing forward the agenda of cooperation.
The convener said that the huge interest shown by the parliamentarians in attending the first-ever meeting of the Pakistan-India PFG manifested desire of the democratic Institution in Pakistan and its members to promote friendly relations with the neighbor and said that from the other side, same goodwill gesture would come forward to strengthen their hands.
The consultative process also included an extensive briefing from the relevant ministries on the current status of ongoing efforts for improving relations between the two countries and increasing trade volume by involving all stakeholders in the common economic development of people in Pakistan and India and dissemination of its results to the rest of Asia region.
The participants of the meeting not only richly contributed towards the overall deliberations during the meeting but they were also appreciative of the continuing efforts of the speaker National Assembly of Pakistan in carrying forward the agenda of peace.