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    Pakistan turmoil hits talks between Islamabad and New Delhi

    Synopsis

    Political upheavals in Pakistan have cast a shadow over the rapidly liberalising economic relations between Islamabad and New Delhi.

    NEW DELHI: Political upheavals in Pakistan have cast a shadow over the rapidly liberalising economic relations between Islamabad and New Delhi.

    The commerce secretaries of the two countries are not likely to meet next month in Islamabad when external affairs ministers meet as Pakistan wants more time to settle issues under the new political leadership, a government official said.

    Raja Pervez Ashraf became prime minister of Pakistan in June after Yousuf Raza Gilani was dismissed by the Supreme Court for failing to investigate the president Asif Ali Zardari for corruption charges.

    The delay in the commerce secretary level talks would disrupt the trade normalisation schedule drawn by the two countries that includes commencing negotiations for removal of ban on import of all items from India by Pakistan and offering each other reduced tariffs on a larger number of goods under the regional trading agreement SAFTA.

    "India had expressed interest in holding commerce secretary level talks when the external affairs ministers meet, but it does not seem to be happening as Islamabad is not ready for it," the official said.

    Although Pakistan had taken a giant step towards normalising trade ties with India earlier this year by removing import ban on majority of items from India and restricting imports of just 1,209 items on the negative list, it fell short of extending the most favoured nation or MFN status to India by allowing all imports.

    India had accorded MFN status to Pakistan, a must under the World Trade Organisation, way back in 1996.
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