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No Trade with India: PM Imran Khan

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan takes a U-turn over the topic of trade with India. The PM decided not to go ahead with any trade with India under any circumstances.

 The decision was taken by the Prime Minister on Friday after holding a meeting with key members of his Cabinet on importing of cotton and sugar from India, a media report said on Saturday.

The prime minister after consultations instructed the Ministry of Commerce and his economic team to immediately take steps to facilitate the relevant sectors, value added, apparel and sugar, by finding alternative cheap sources of import of the needed commodities, the Dawn newspaper quoted sources as saying.

Pakistan’s U-turn on Thursday came a day after the Economic Coordination Company (ECC), under newly-appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar, recommended importing cotton and sugar from India, lifting a nearly two-year-long ban on its import from the neighboring country amidst tensions over the Kashmir issue.

 ECC had decided on commercial grounds to recommend these imports for the Cabinet’s consideration.

While the decision was not on the formal agenda of the Cabinet meeting, the issue was brought up by Cabinet members and the prime minister instructed that the ECC’s decision be deferred and immediately reviewed, the report said.

The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Khan on Thursday rejected the proposal of the high-powered committee to import cotton from India, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stating that there can be no normalization of ties until New Delhi reverses its decision in 2019 to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The ECC’s decision had raised hopes of a partial revival of Pakistan-India bilateral trade relations, which were suspended after the August 5, 2019 decision of New Delhi to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

In May 2020, Pakistan lifted the ban on the import of medicines and raw material of essential drugs from India amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

India’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 angered Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad. Pakistan also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.

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