According to a Gilani Research Foundation survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, a majority of Pakistanis are in favour of trade ties.

A nationally representative sample from across the country's four provinces was asked: "In your opinion should Pakistan trade with India or not?" Responding to this, 63 percent said "Yes" and 33 percent said "No". Four percent did not respond.

The same question was asked earlier in June 2012, and at that time too, most respondents answered in favour of establishing close trade ties with India (67 percent).

The survey covered 2,639 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces during July 16-22. Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar recently said that granting of Most Favoured Nation-status to India was not on the table "for the time being".

The remarks came within days of the World Bank saying in a report that Pakistan would benefit from granting MFN-status to India. Pakistan last year moved to a negative list regime for trade with India. Islamabad was to have eliminated the negative list regime in December and granted MFN-status to India but it missed its own December 31 deadline for the change.

The previous government had put on hold the move to give MFN-status after opposition from industries and hardline groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawah. India granted MFN-status to Pakistan way back in 1996. Bilateral trade stood at USD 2.35 billion in 2012-13, as against USD 1.93 billion in the earlier fiscal.

(Agencies)

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