SAFTA held hostage by Kashmir: India
2 October 2004
The Daily Times
Washington: India has made it clear that if Pakistan continued to weigh down free trade talks with political baggage on Kashmir, the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) would not move forward, reports Press Trust of India.India is prepared to move forward but 'the (political) baggage carried by us since 40 or 50 years' is obstructing the way, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said at a World Bank seminar on Friday.'I don't see it (free trade) getting started,' he said after repeated insistence by Pakistani representatives at the seminar to move the trade talks in tandem with the settlement of political issues. Chidambaram said India and Pakistan recognised the value of trade but for any trade arrangement to be successful, the two countries had to extend a Most Favoured Nation status to each other. Pakistan has till now shown unwillingness to extend the Most Favoured Nation status to India. 'How do we achieve regional cooperation in such an atmosphere?' asked the minister.