MFN status review meet postponed to next week

New Delhi [India], Sept. 29 : The meeting which was scheduled today to review the continuance of 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) status granted to Pakistan has been postponed to next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was supposed to chair the meeting regarding the MFN status and related logistics.

Speculations are high that India is considering withdrawal of the MFN status to Pakistan in the wake of the Uri terror attack, in which 18 soldiers were killed, bringing ties between the two nations to an all time low.

The MFN status was accorded in 1996 as per India's commitments as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

According to the MFN principle of the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - to which India is a signatory/contracting party - each of the WTO member countries (including India and Pakistan in this case), should "treat all the other members equally as 'most-favoured' trading partners." On the other hand, India continues its diplomatic warfare on Pakistan by boycotting the upcoming SAARC summit in November, which was backed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan, who also pulled out of the event.

Speaking exclusively to ANI here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Vikas Swarup stated that when one head of state decides not to participate in the SAARC summit, then there is no choice but to postpone the event.

"All heads of the SAARC countries have to be present for the summit. So if any one country decides not to participate, then it has to be postponed. In the current case as you know, not just India, but Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan have also written to the current chair of SAARC that is Nepal, that they are unable to participate in the summit, which means there is no option but to postpone the summit," Swarup said.

However, he added that the formal announcement of this effect can only be made by Nepal after they have done their internal consultations.

Continuing to berate Pakistan for relentlessly pursuing a path which has led to this current decision, the MEA spokesperson emphasised that India has made it very clear that regional cooperation and terror cannot go hand-in-hand.

"Our commitment to SAARC, to regional connectivity, to regional contact and regional prosperity remains intact, but we cannot conceive of a SAARC summit happening at the same time as cross border terrorism continues, as cross interference in our internal affairs continues," he said.

With three other countries in the region joining India in conveying the same message to Pakistan, Swarup stated that its time for Pakistan to introspect on the kind of relationship it wants within the SAARC.

Source: ANI