During the post-lunch session, representatives of various segments of national economy shared their views on the proposed Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) for India. Dr. Ishrat Husain chaired the session. Mr. Sikandar Mustafa Khan , Chairman Millat Tractors and Chairman, Pakistan Business Council said, while representing the Automobile sector and the business community in general, that there was no harm in opening trade doors with India as long as the concerns of the local businessmen were addressed. The government sometimes does not take stake holder into confidence while making important policy decisions due to which local business suffers. He said if suggestions of stake holders are taken into account, the stake holders will be the first ones to favor trade with India.
Mr. Sakib Sherani , who had authored the Discussion Paper for the Briefing Session, gave a balance sheet of pros and cons of liberalized trade with India. He felt that Pakistan would need to make a careful assessment of the sectors which might need special protective measures allowed under the WTO regime. He also cited the negative impact of Non-Tariff Barriers in India and hoped that a liberalized trade would not only mean steps on Pakistan side but also on the Indian side as well. But in principal he supported a more liberalized trade regime with India. He also proposed that the public concerns on both sides should be addressed by the respective governments by raising awareness about the benefits of greater trade and that a more liberal trade regime would not pose a security threat to any one as it would help in boosting the economy and creation of more jobs also.
Mr. Tariq Bucha , President of Farmers Association of Pakistan, said that the government did not include representatives of the agriculture sector in the consultations with various sectors of economy while formulating the policy of more liberal trade with India. He said that addressing the concerns of agriculture sector at an early stage would have paved the way for a liberalized trade with India. He said that the trade without taking protective measures will be beneficial only for the urban consumers but the farmers and consumers in the rural areas will suffer. He said that he was not against enhanced trade with India but the trade policy should protect the interests of Pakistani farmers as well because they are at a huge disadvantage because of the heavily subsidized agriculture in Indian Punjab.
Mr. Qasim Niaz , Federal Secretary of Commerce, Appreciated PILDAT for holding this briefing session and said that the issues between Pakistan and India on bilateral trade should be addressed through negotiations and an organized dialogue on Pak India Trade would be helpful in promoting understanding on the subject.. He said that officials at the Ministry of Commerce focus on expanding trade with a commercial and economic point of view and the political dimensions are left to the political leadership of the countyry. He admitted that Most Favoured Nation (MFN) was a misleading term and it has also contributed towards resistance to the idea by certain quarters. He said that there were non-tariff barriers from Indian side and Pakistan has the options of taking appropriate measures to safeguard its national interests. He said that the regional trade was important for every country. He believed that there were a few apprehensions in this regard which could be addressed through dialogue. He said that Pak India business Forum could play an important role in extending bilateral trade.. He admitted that there were some capacity issues which needed to be identified and addressed in Pakistan.
Parliamentarians enthusiastically participated in the Question-Answer sessions. A general consensus for a more liberal trade with India was evident in most of the comments made by the parliamentarians across the party divide. One key sentiment repeatedly expressed both by speakers and participants was that Pakistan, while protecting its own interest, must also fulfill its international obligations under various agreements and treaties and that it must project its image as a responsible country by honouring its public pronouncements. Many parliamentarians felt that the Briefing Session was immensely useful in giving them the factual information and various viewpoints on the subject.
The Honorable Senators who attended and registered their names in the briefing session included Senator Farhatullah Babar (PPPP, KP); Senator Begum Najma Hameed (PMLN, Punjab); Senator Syeda Sughra Hussain Imam (PPPP, Punjab); Senator Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana (PMLN, Punjab); Senator M. Hamza (PMLN, Punjab); Senator Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari (IND, Punjab); Senator Afrasiab Khattak (ANP, KP) and Senator Suraiya Amiruddin (PPPP, Balochistan).
Honourable Members of the National Assembly (MNA`s) who participated and registered their names in the briefing session included Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan , Parliamentary Secretary for Finance (NA-82, Faisalabad-VIII, PML-N), Ms. Sabiha Nazir (NA-301, Women Punjab- XXIX, PML-N), Mr. Khalid George (NA-337, NM- V, PML-N), Ms. Zahra Wadood Fatemi (NA-298, Women Punjab- XXVI, PML –N), Ms. Shahida Rehmani (NA-308, Women Sindh – I, PPPP), Dr. Mahreen Razaque Bhutto (NA-312, Women Sindh – V, PPPP), Ms. Sajida Begum (NA-324, Women Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – III, PTI), Ms. Asyia Naz Tanoli (NA-282, Women Punjab- X, PML-N), Mr. Alhaj Shah Jee Gul Afridi (NA-45, Tribal Area-X, Independent), Ms. Nikhat Shakeel Khan (NA-318, Women Sindh – X, MQM), Mr. Siraj Muhammad Khan (NA-6, Nowshera-II, PTI), Chaudhry Muhammad Shahbaz Babar (NA-79, Faisalabad-V, PML-N), Shahibzada Muhammad Yaqub (NA-34, Lower Dir, JI), Ms. Shahida Akhtar Ali (NA-326, Women Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa - V JUI-F), Ms. Shahnaz Saleem Malik (NA-285, Women Punjab- XIII, PML-N), Dr. Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon (NA-17, Abbottabad-I, PTI), Molana Ameer Zaman (NA-263, Loralai-cum-Musakhel-cum-Barkhan, JUI-F), Mr. Arif Ur Rehman Alvi (NA-250, Karachi-XII, PTI), Ms. Tahira Aurangzeb (NA-275, Women Punjab- III, PML-N), Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan (NA-10, Mardan-II, PTI), Mr. Lal Chand (NA-339, NM- VII, PTI), Ms. Khalida Mansoor (NA-281, Women Punjab- IX, PML-N), Mr. Sajid Nawaz (NA-3, Peshawar-III, PTI), Ms. Nighat Parveen (NA-279, Women Punjab- VII, PML-N), Ms. Parveen Masood Bhatti (NA-276, Women Punjab- IV, PML-N), Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari , Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs (NA-173, Dera Ghazi Khan-III, PML-N), Mr. Mujahid Ali (NA-11, Mardan-III, PTI), Sardar Mansab Ali Dogar (NA-164, Pakpattan-I, PML-N), Ms. Kishwer Zehra (NA-315, Women Sindh – VIII, MQM), and Dr . Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti (NA-67, Sargodha-IV, PML-N).