Has anything radically changed in our geostrategic calculus and within regional perspective, which makes us confident and, in turn, magnanimous. On the contrary, we are in dire straits, short on options and groping for answers to issues within and perils on our borders. AfPak is smouldering. Kashmir is groaning under the draconian Indian occupation. Siachin, Sir Creek and water issues beg resolution. The Indian complicity in encouraging extremism in Balochistan is palpable. So, why this haste to accord the MFN status to India at this point in time? And that also without any quid pro quo or even a hint of it on issues vital to our national interest. If this issue was so frivolous, as it is made to appear, then why were we dithering so long? The fact of the matter is that we have abandoned a carefully crafted stance for composite dialogue for almost nothing in return. The economic outlook in Pakistan is abysmal with the growth rate at 2 percent or so. Chronic power outages are leading to low industrial output, especially in exportable items as well as their rising cost of production. Agriculture sector, in spite of the governments supportive price fixation, is hit hard by manipulated and mismanaged runaway costly inputs, especially the fertilisers. Agriculture is our mainstay and its neglectful degradation will ruin the socio-economic fabric of our agrarian society. Agriculture workers, if still clin to hardly sustainable subsistence farming will face utter poverty or if forced by circumstances to migrate to the cities can create havoc with the demographic balance. Why should we, therefore, negotiate with India at this point in time from a position of weakness? Cant we wait for the internal dynamics to stabilise? The Indo-Pak trade scene does not inspire confidence. We have had complaints about rotten vegetables, substandard sugar and wheat, low quality pharmaceuticals and diseased and lifeless seed for staple crops. Indian businessmen have been reneging on their legal business commitments. Lower rung IT, light engineering consumer goods, automobile parts and, to top it all, her shining barely clad entertainment products will negatively impact on our domestic scene. In any case, the cultural invasion is a part of Indias psychological campaign. There is little change in Indias haughty posture. Any suggestion of conciliation with Pakistan is an anathema for the BJP. A subservient PM Manmohan Singh hides behind the Indian Congress Partys skirts when confronted with positive peace initiatives. The Indian media and film industry still churns out rabidly anti-Pakistan outputs. We wish peace in the region. But it takes two to a tango. We need solid proofs of Indias peaceful intent followed by a string of actions on issues of persistent discord on sustained basis. The operational situation on both our eastern and western fronts is fast deteriorating. It does not suggest concessions to India, as they would appear to be extracted under pressure. The grant of MFN status has many glitches, which need to be addressed before it is fully implemented. i Since the Indian agriculture is heavily subsidised by billions of rupees, either Pakistan should equal facilities to our farmers or persuade India to withdraw its largesse to their farmers to create a level playing field. i Our engineering industry must be protected through trade barriers. i The IT industry, though comparatively small, is robust and growing. It should not be allowed to be smothered by the Indian juggernaut. i Domestic pharma scene is fairly stable and qualitatively sound. We should not allow the substandard Indian products to vitiate it. i Self-serving trading can snowball into an effective bobby, which is likely to impact on our national policies in support of India. i As the next step, Indian firms will seek to invest in Pakistan as partners of international big houses or on their own and create an effective niche through strong economic and industrial linkages, and also exert indirect influences on our society and national stance. i The two-way transit trade between Afghanistan/Central Asian Republics (CAR) and India will relegate Pakistan to a mere a passage way and silk route sub-terminal. The sealed Indian containers like the missing Nato containers if mysteriously lost en route can create havoc inside Pakistan, which is already bristling with weapons. It is going to be a major security challenge. Softer and generous visa conditions can turn into saboteurs dream. i Pakistan need safeguards against non-tariff barriers and intentional default by the Indian businessmen, as experienced in the recent past on institutionalised legal basis. i The concerned manufacturing sectors in Pakistan have raised serious questions on the modalities of Indo-Pak trade. These concerns must be addressed on long-term basis. i Till 1980s, the Indians had been the most protectionist State with multi-layered fire walls in their policies to discourage inroads in sectors critical to its domestic manufacturing. Even today, through ingenious laws, regimes and non-tariff barriers, it discourages imports from the Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs). Despite MFN status enjoyed by Pakistan in India our exports are a paltry $287 million compared with $1.5 billion Indian exports to Pakistan. Any plausible explanation for this bizarre trade imbalance? Do we still think Pakistan is competitive and has nothing to fear? And if we are not competitive do we have to grant a walk over to India? Equally amazing is the trade imbalance between India and Bangladesh. Within an overall $4.5 billion trade, Bangladesh exports to India are worth $100 million dollars only. Any spin on this exploitation? Indian atrocities in the occupied Kashmir continue unabated. Progress on water issue, Siachin and Sir Creek is negligible. The composite dialogue, our favourite formula, is heard no more. Accepted that if is a global design to create a borderless South Asian- Middle Asian trade zone linked by silk route concept. But rather being sucked into a black hole, we must stand our ground a negotiate participation on terms most beneficial for us. We are the key link and Pakistan must leverage our strategic advantage skilfully and resolutely. The writer is a retired major general, president of the Pakistan Forum for Security and Development (PFSD), and ex-chairman of POF Wah and Pakistan Steel Mill. Email: muhammad-javaid1@live.com