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Cabinet gives go-ahead to MFN status to India

04 January, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday directed the trade ministry to immediately implement the government's decision to grant the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India and decided to phase out the negative trade list by end-February to normalise the trade relations between Pakistan and India.

Briefing the media persons after attending the federal cabinet meeting here, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, while chairing the cabinet meeting, said in his opening remarks Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had said the PPP-led coalition government was going to complete its tenure and was heading towards election.

"The government considers election as Amanat which will be conducted in accordance with the Constitution. We will not let anyone derail democracy, as countless sacrifices have been made for it and the parliamentary system will be strengthened," the information minister quoted the prime minister as saying.

The premier told the cabinet members that extremism‚ militancy and intolerance were major challenges and a matter of high concern for the country since long.

"As the new year's resolution, we pledge to fight out terrorism and other evils with the blessing of Allah and the support of the patriotic forces of the country," the premier remarked. The cabinet condemned the current wave of terrorism and the killing of ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour, 21 Levies personnel, polio vaccinators in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, attack on the Bacha Khan Airport Peshawar, the recent explosion at Mastung, killing of 19 pilgrims and a blast in Karachi, killing four people and injuring 45. It also offered Fateha forANP senior minister Bashir Bilour and all those who lost their life in cowardly acts of terrorism.

The premier said the sacrifices of all those who embraced martyrdom will never go to waste and time will definitely come when these terrorists will be defeated. "The world knows that we have lost 30,000 civilian men, women and children, more than 5,000 armed forces' personnel and billions of dollars. I feel poverty and illiteracy are the major root causes of extremism and terrorism, and absorption of our unemployed people in gainful employment would greatly help circumvent them falling into the trap of terrorists,'' said the premier.

He said the PPP-led government was implementing programmes such as BISP to address the issues of poverty and unemployment. "Notwithstanding the difficult international economic scenario and threats of terrorism, our capital market is growing and KSE 100 INDEX has crossed 16,000 units, which shows corporate profitability and investors' confidence. This reflects our coalition government's sincerity in eliminating terrorism and militancy from our soil. We have resolved to use all available resources to crush it; therefore, terrorists have increased their attacks to destabilize the government," Ashraf added.

Kaira said the current assemblies would complete their constitutional tenure until March 16 and the general election would be held from May 16. However, he refused to comment on Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri's long march saying that Dr Qadri didn't figure in the cabinet meeting.

He said Tahirul Qadri should have contacted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) six months earlier when electoral reforms were being made. He said only parliament had the right to legislate.

Kaira said those wanting to create a Tahrir Square in Islamabad should learn a lesson from the PPP that had rendered most sacrifices. He said it had not been decided yet if any delegation would hold talks with Dr Qadri. The minister said if Qadri wanted electoral reforms, then he should first get his party registered with the ECP and inform it about his electoral reforms.

He said the cabinet had expressed satisfaction over the prices of general articles and also set up a three-member committee for policy guidelines about the petroleum prices. Granting that there was serious gas shortage in the country, the minister said the government was taking serious steps to reduce gas shortage.

End.

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