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 along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

"There are public sentiments. So we had to put it (MFN status) on hold," Dar said on Tuesday 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 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,” Dar said.

"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. "We had recent meeting with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I was with the (Pak) Prime Minister. We have to give it a chance, after perhaps the new elections there. We are ready,” Dar said.

"First of all the incident that took place (on the LoC) created a lot of problems (and tension)," he said. "We are ready for UN investigation, we are ready tri partite, multilateral, whatever process, but I think it was the Indian Prime Minister preference that we should do it on a bilateral level between our two institutions,” Dar said.

After the elections the process would be speeded up. Because there would be no elections here for four and half years plus. So I think, we can and we should move forward," Dar added.

Dar asserted that the party of Nawaz Sharif has always believe in good relationship with India even to the extent of visa free movement, he said it was the initiative of Sharif that for the first time an Indian Prime Minister was invited for a State visit in 1999.

"If the process was not derailed subsequently by certain quarters, in fact certain individuals, the progress would have been tremendous," he said.


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