Mandate on Kashmir dispute
According to the sources, the preparations to pay grant of Most Favored Nation status to India have been completed at the government level. Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accorded approval to the strategic trade policy framework, which will be announced by commerce Minister Makhdum Amin Fahim after obtaining confirmation from entire cabinet, on Friday.
Reportedly, the grant of most favored nation status to India, agreed upon in principle, is likely to be delayed by a week or so, instead of December 31 it would be some time in the first week of January 2013 when it come into force.
Historically and on legitimate grounds, we have been opposed to developing commercial relations with New Delhi before it comes around to resolving the core issue of Kashmir in line with the aspirations of the people of the disputed state.
The favor of most favored nation would, it is a forgone conclusion, tend to further harden its already recalcitrant posture, not induce it to settle it, as argued by the proponents of trade with India.
Thus, the hope or the desire expressed by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, when APHC chairman called on PML-N president in Lahore on Friday, that trade relations should not be allowed to impinge upon the Kashmiris right to self determination, is not likely to come true.
In fact, it is a patently facile hope, One wonders how they could expect the Indian leadership to change its stand when even now, with the prospect of getting the most favored nation status in sight – their longstanding wish – they insist on calling the disputed state ‘atoot ang’ of India, they are ready to hold negotiations on Kashmir only if it is about determining the final status of Azad Kashmir.
Besides, the most favored nation has come at a most inauspicious moment, when our industry, thanks to no long hours of load shedding is in utter ruin. That would facilitate the Indian goods to swamp our market, also because they are much cheaper and because the negative list is being pashed out. For these very reasons as well as the trade barriers that New Dehli has laid for our exports, Pakistani goods would not find much access to the Indian market.
Three wars have been done between Pakistan and India and the main dispute is Kashmir. Most of the lives of Kashmiris have been lost by the Indian army.
The government should pay attention to how trade is flowing, and its first effect on trade and industry. It should not be so anxious to flood its markets and thus destroy its industry. Simply drafting frameworks will not work, not unless there is hard work put in to ensure that the framework is more than just building castles in the air.
The people at large, apart from the commercial community that could stand to gain, are not in favor of the decision either.
It is strange that in the rush to normalize relations with the eastern neighbor our leaders are turning a blind eye to the singular importance of Kashmir to Pakistan. Apart from other factors like the Muslim majority state and the dispute being the leftover agenda of partition, Kashmir is vital to Pakistan’s survival and that is becoming increasingly apparent with the uncontrolled diversion of our share of water by India for its own use. Would that the government has the sense to look before leaping into the abyss of dependence on India!(Sher Muhammad Khan)