India-Pakistan Current Affairs - 2020

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Pakistan has no plans to grant MFN status to India

Pakistan Government has no immediate plans to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. However, it is working out free trade agreements (FTAs) with different countries, especially China and hopes to complete second FTA with China by June 2019. Pakistan has not reciprocated MFN status to India, reportedly citing “non-tariff barriers” erected by India as well as huge trade imbalance.

Pakistan maintains negative list of 1,209 items which are not permitted to be imported from India. But, it allows only 137 products to be exported from India through Wagah border land route. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stood at US $2.28 billion in 2016-17. India mainly exports cotton, dyes, chemicals, vegetables and iron and steel to Pakistan while it imports fruits, cement, leather, chemicals and spices.

Most Favoured Nation (MFN)

  • As per World Trade Organisation (WTO) rule, each of the WTO member countries should treat all tother members equally as ‘most-favoured’ trading partners.
  • Though MFN sounds like special treatment, in effect it means non-discrimination and tend to promote objective of free trade in general.
  • Under MFN status, WTO member country is obliged to treat other trading nations in non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs duty and other levies.
  • India has already granted this status to all WTO members, including Pakistan (accorded in 1996), but Pakistan is yet to transition fully to MFN status for India.

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Uruguay’s Major General Jos Eladio Alcain appointed Head of UNMOGIP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Major General José Eladio Alcain of Uruguayan Army as Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer for UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). He will succeed Major General Per Gustaf Lodin of Sweden, who completed his two-year assignment.

UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)

UNMOGIP has been established by UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution and started its operations in 1949. It has been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line or tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. UNMOGIP has 44 military observers, 25 international civilian personnel from 10 countries and 47 local civilian staff. The group is financed by the United Nations regular budget.

Mandate: UNMOGIP’s military observers conduct field tasks (field trip, area recce, field visit and observation post) along LoC. As part of 1949 Karachi Agreement, it also conducts investigations into alleged ceasefire violation complaints, which two parties (India and Pakistan) can submit to it. Its findings of investigations are shared with UN Secretary-General and summary of investigations with two parties.

India’s Opposition

India has maintained that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Shimla (Accord) Agreement and consequent establishment of Line of Control (LoC) in 1971. In Shimla Agreement, India and Pakistan had agreed to change ceasefire line to LoC and held that they will resolve their disputes bilaterally without third party interference. In 2014, India had asked UNMOGIP to wind up its work in Kashmir and in 2017, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had reiterated that UNMOGIP does not have mandate to monitor situation in Kashmir. However, Pakistan continues to welcome UNMOGIP mission based there. On India opposition, UN Secretary-General has held that given the disagreement between India and Pakistan about UNMOGIP’s mandate and functions, it can only be terminated by decision of UN Security Council.

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