MFN status to India put on hold: Ishaq Dar
11 October, 2013
WASHINGTON: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said Islamabad is implementing a series of long-delayed reforms to turn around the broken economy of the country adding that granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Status to India has been put on hold.
Speaking at Washington's Atlantic Council think tank‚ he said despite inheriting a fragile economy‚ the government has taken bold structural and energy sector reforms.
The Minister also touched on the implications of war on terror for Pakistan's economy‚ Pakistan's tremendous democratic gains and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's commitment to democratic ideals.
He said Pakistan's nuclear assets are completely secure and there is absolutely no chance of their falling into wrong hands.
"I being member of the national command and control authority can say with responsibility that Pakistan's nukes are totally in safe hands.
"We had a recent review. World should stop worrying about safety of nukes in Pakistan," the visiting Pak Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said. "This is my core message today. The world should stop worrying about the safety of nukes in Pakistan. We have absolutely responsible, a controlled check and balance system," Dar said.
"I guarantee you that these worries are unfounded. There is no need to worry. Pakistan is in safe hands and so are nukes," the Finance Minister said.
Dar, who is in Washington to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said that the new Pakistan Government is committed to eliminate extremism and they and the west are on the same page with regard to dealing with extremism.
Referring a number of fiscal‚ taxation and energy sector reforms Ishaq Dar said the government's steps have enhanced international confidence in Islamabad's commitment to improving the economy.
Recounting the steps the new government has taken since its inception‚ he said it is resolved to curb inflation‚ increase tax to GDP ratio and expand revenues.
Ishaq Dar said the impression that IMF was telling the government how to make its policies was totally wrong. He said the government is trying to control fiscal deficit because it is in the country's interest.
Describing the recent meeting between the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York last month as "excellent", Dar, said 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 on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
"There are public sentiments. So we had to put it (MFN status) on hold," Dar said.
Dar further said that MFN status is unlikely to happen before the Indian general elections early 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.
"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.
"On the MFN status, I think, with all due respect, India because of the elections is not ready to move the composite dialogue forward. I can't go into too much detail," he said.
"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.
"First of all the incident that took place (on the LoC) created a lot of problems (and tension)," he said.