In yet another flip-flop, Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani claimed that his country has not granted the 'most favoured nation' (MFN) status to India, and his cabinet has only given an 'in principle' approval to the commerce ministry to go ahead with the proposal.
''The cabinet has only given its approval in principle to move forward on the issue of MFN and permitted the ministry of commerce, which is actively engaged in trade talks with New Delhi, to negotiate with it on trade-related issues,'' Gilani told reporters in Lahore. ''We will give it the go-ahead if the situation is quite favourable and in the national interest. Otherwise, proceedings on it would be withheld.''
Gilani's government has been under intense pressure from right-wing elements and business lobbies ever since his information minister, Firdous Awan, announced on Wednesday that the cabinet had 'unanimously approved' the proposal to give the MFN status to India.
On Friday, Liaqat Baloch, secretary-general, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, warned that Pakistan should not grant MFN status to India until the Kashmir issue was resolved.
Riaz Hussain, secretary-general, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, also warned that India would dump low-priced drugs in Pakistan, if the MFN status was granted to it. ''If they want to give India MFN status, fine, but all the pharmaceutical finished goods should be put on the negative list,'' said Hussain.
Awan had told the media on Wednesday that the cabinet had unanimously approved the move to grant MFN status and that all the stakeholders, including the military, had been taken ''on board.''