Pakistan reverses decision to resume trade with India

Islamabad, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- The Pakistani cabinet on Thursday decided to not resume trade with India, a day after announcing plans to kick off imports from its neighbor, with the trade links having been broken since August 2019 when New Delhi revoked the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Kashmir region.

“There was a clear and unanimous opinion by the prime minister and the cabinet that until and unless india reviews its unilateral action of August 5, 2019 it will be impossible to normalize relations with India,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a video statement issued by his office.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Hammad Azhar announced that along with the Economic Coordination Committee, his ministry had decided to allow the import of half a million tons of sugar from India as well as the purchase of Indian cotton until June.

The decision was based on the fact that sugar and cotton prices are lower in India compared to Pakistan, which faces a shortage of these products.

The decision would have meant the resumption of bilateral trade for the first time since New Delhi abrogated the special status of India-administered Kashmir, leading to the already troubled ties between the two countries hitting a historic low.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars and engaged in multiple minor conflicts over Kashmir since the Indian subcontinent gained independence from the British in 1947.

However, signs of a slight thaw in ties had become apparent over the past month after in late February both sides pledged to respect the ceasefire agreement along their international border and the Line of Control that divides the Kashmir region between the two sides.

In 2020, around 50 people were killed and over 300 injured in cross-border firing and clashes, according to data released by the two countries.

Moreover, last week Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on the occasion of the national day of Pakistan, saying he wanted cordial ties between the neighbors.

Khan has also said on many occasions that he was ready to talk with India but the ball lay in Modi’s court.

However, long-standing differences remain as Islamabad continues to raise the issue of Kashmir’s autonomy while New Delhi insists that Pakistan backs terrorism on its soil. EFE-EPA


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