India, June 7 -- The Pakistan Cabinet had signed off on granting India the contentious Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status in January this year but it was not operationalised because of the beheading of Indian army soldiers on the line of control. This important disclosure was made by former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar in an exclusive interview with HT.
"If the LoC tensions hadn't happened, the MFN was through. President Zardari had pushed for it and it had the approval of the Cabinet. The LoC reaction shocked all of us,'' Khar told HT.
"It was deeply disappointing for me personally,'' said Khar, adding, "we took the very bold MFN decision and made sure that all parties were on board. We built political consensus but were shocked to hear India's army chief up the ante.'' Khar says she was chided by the PML(M) but her response was, we don't want a tit for tat.
Pushing for peace ties with India, Khar, who served as the foreign minister for over two years emphasised that she was neither a dove nor a hawk, but a realist who pushed her government's policy for better relations with India, "We have to develop the region together. We don't beat our chests on India-bashing and don't want a nation growing up hating Indians or Hindustan.''
The minister regretted that while Pakistan was willing to go that extra mile to improve relations, the Manmohan Singh government was not able to contain the "Pakistan-beating mentality'' promoted by Indian news channels which then also "infected the Congress and its government and state assemblies."
When reminded that India needs to see movement in the 26/11 trial going on at a snails pace in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, Khar responded saying, "We do not want the kalank of not punishing the guilty but for how long will India hold itself hostage. Pakistan is not stuck on the Samjhauta train blast trial in which many innocent Pakistanis were killed."
"I will take full marks for creating the atmosphere and the dynamics for better ties with India but I have to say that the political leadership in India has not helped shape the same narrative."
On what advice she would give the Nawaz Sharif government as the former foreign minister, Khar said, "I hope they follow what we do and I hope they do better but India needs to reciprocate. I hope India is reading the positive signals being sent by Nawaz Sharif."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.