Islamabad: Two senior Pakistani ministers on Friday backed the government's move to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India amid the ambiguity and confusion over the process.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, both from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, welcomed the move to grant MFN status in public comments.
Malik said the measure "would have a positive impact on bilateral relations".
However, he said the Parliament should reverse the decision to give India MFN-status if it considered it was not favourable.
Mukhtar, a businessman who owns the Servis Group, on Friday said granting MFN status to India would have "positive impacts on the economy of both countries".
Talking to reporters at Lalamusa in Punjab, Mukhtar said the government had acted on the move to grant India the MFN-status, which had been pending for 30 years.
Malik told reporters outside the Parliament on Thursday that he personally believed good relations between neighbouring countries always had a positive impact on bilateral relations.
Though Information Minister Firdous Awan announced on Wednesday that the cabinet had unanimously approved a proposal to give India MFN status, the Foreign Office said on Thursday that the cabinet had only "decided in principle to according MFN to India" and both countries would have to work towards the goal in future engagements.
The move to grant MFN status has been welcomed by several trade lobbies in Pakistan. The Pakistan-India Business Council on Friday said the move would be beneficial for boosting bilateral trade.
The move "would have positive economic and political impacts on the relations of both the countries", PIBC chairman Noor Muhammad Kausuri said.
He lauded the efforts of Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim to bring India and Pakistan closer.
Increasing contacts between the two countries would help improve the standard of life of common people and bring progress and prosperity, Kasuri said.
The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an apex body of chambers of the region, too welcomed the move, with the body's vice-president, Iftikhar Ali Malik, saying it would improve trade relations.
In the emerging economic scenario worldwide, Pakistan cannot live in isolation in the region, he said.
The entire trade liberalisation process must be linked to the removal of non tariff-barriers by the Indian government, he added.
During the finalization of a roadmap for normalizing trade with India, the interests of the Pakistani business community should be safeguarded, Malik said.
However, the Jamaat-e-Islami has opposed any move to give Indian MFN-status.
Jameet leader Syed Waseem Akhtar said such a measure would undermine Pakistan’s solidarity and affect its economy.     The move would "create more hurdles for the solution of the Kashmir issue", he claimed.