Pakistan on Tuesday indicated that it could move towards granting India non-discriminatory access to its market only after the restart of bilateral engagement.
Islamabad’s position appears to be a reaction to New Delhi’s recent bid to once again keep peace along the Line of Control (LoC) as a pre-condition for resumption of the stalled dialogue. “Let the bilateral engagements resume. Our prime ministers have met and all the issues were discussed, and we hope that things will be carried forward when the time comes,” Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi, Abdul Basit, told journalists. He was responding to a query about when Pakistan would grant India Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA).
Basit also stated that good days would soon come for the ties between the neighbours. “I have no reason to doubt for a moment that ‘achchhe din aa rahe hain’ (good days are coming),” he said, referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign refrain to drive home the point that the prospect of India-Pakistan ties looked better with the new regime, headed by Narendra Modi, in place in New Delhi.
The BJP had extensively used the catchphrase to mobilise support for a “Modi Sarkar” at the Centre.
On Tuesday, Basit was speaking at an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan here.
The event was held to announce “Alishan Pakistan”, an exhibition of fashion, textiles, jewellery, furniture, marbles and agro-products from the neighbouring country to be held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi from September 11 to 14.
Islamabad has for long dilly-dallied on reciprocating to New Delhi’s gesture of granting Pakistan “Most Favoured Nation” (MFN) status for greater market access to India. M Nawaz Sharif’s new government in early 2013 had conveyed to New Delhi that it would grant India NDMA—an alternative to the MFN.
Basit’s bid to link the issue of Pakistan granting NDMA came just two days after Defence Minister Arun Jaitley made it clear that New Delhi expected Islamabad to stop violation of ceasefire by its soldiers along the LoC in order to create an atmosphere conducive to normalisation of ties.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh too recently said “peace and tranquillity” along the LoC as well as undisputed stretches of the border was of “the highest importance in establishing the pre-conditions” for a peaceful and normal relationship.