South Asian Affairs

FO says no transit trade rights have granted to India

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday Pakistan has not granted transit trade rights to India under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Washington last week. Pakistan and Afghanistan inked MoU to review a transit trade agreement signed by the two countries in 1960s. Reports suggest that the MoU will also allow India to export goods to Afghanistan via Pakistan land route. The reports have led to a debate in Pakistan and business groups and opposition parties are demanding parliamentary discussion over the MoU.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said that Pakistan and Afghanistan have signed the MoU to conclude a trade agreement by the end of the year. “Details have yet to be finalized and during negotiations Pakistan will not agree to any provision or arrangement that is not in its national interests,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Pakistan is cognizant of its interest and knows how to protect them. To another question about Indian refusal of visa to Pakistani journalists interested to cover Indian elections, the spokesman said Pakistan believes that such interaction between the two people and especially media is important towards enhancing understanding.

Asked to comment on Bangladesh’s demand for apology from Pakistan over alleged atrocities in 1971, the spokesman said under the tripartite agreement signed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and India in April 1974, the issue stands settled. He said the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs had stated that Pakistan condemns and regrets any crime that may have been committed.

The spokesman said Pakistan attaches immense importance to its brotherly relations with Bangladesh and wants to move ahead for the sake of mutual benefit. He told a questioner that during Pakistan-China strategic dialogue in Beijing yesterday, China reiterated its strong support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. China assured its full support to Pakistan in addressing the challenges that the country is facing today especially the humanitarian crisis of IDPs.

To a question the spokesman said Pakistan has always underlined the imperative of having holistic and regional approach to address the challenges facing the region. He said there is now strong realization in Washington and other capitals of the world that we need to adopt regional and holistic approach for the purpose. Asked to comment on reports that Pakistan was seeking drone technology from the United States, he said the matter is still under consideration. NNI