ISLAMABAD - Following deadly skirmishes at the Line of Control (LoC), ice began to thaw between India and Pakistan as Commerce Minister Amin Fahim finally took the initiative to pay a visit to the neighbouring state in a development that is expected to bring two countries closer. The commerce minister will visit India on February 21 to participate in the 5th Saarc Business Leaders Conclave (SBLC) to be held in New Delhi from February 21 to 24. The minister is likely to hold meeting with his Indian counterpart to discuss bilateral trade.
Sources informed TheNation that Pakistan and India would discuss the granting of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to New Delhi. Fahim would inform his Indian counterpart on the latest development made in this regard. Pakistan did not grant MFN status to India from January 2013 as it was proposed. "We will grant the MFN status to India after addressing the reservations of the local industry, as the government does not want to destroy the local industry ", said an official of the ministry. He added that federal cabinet has already given approval for granting the MFN status to India. Pakistan is likely to ask India to remove non-tariff barriers, which create hurdles for Pakistani exports into the neighbouring country. The barriers are mostly concerned with the infrastructural issues at port of entry, bureaucratic and administrative mishandling. Psychological barriers emanate from political issues, visa restrictions and surveillance of visitors to India, banking restrictions, investment restrictions and restrictive trade routes. Earlier, the commerce minister called off a scheduled visit to India to attend a business conference on the direction of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the wake of tension between the two countries at the LoC.