Pakistan to resume trade with India as part of diplomatic thaw

Islamabad, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- Pakistan on Wednesday announced that it will allow the import of sugar and cotton from India, resuming trade between the two countries after it was stopped in August 2019 over New Delhi revoking the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Kashmir region.

Finance Minister Hammad Azhar said in a press conference that the decision was taken due to sugar and cotton prices being lower in India compared to Pakistan, which faces a shortage of these products.

“(The decision’s) direct benefit will be to our people,” said Azhar, who took charge of the finance ministry on Monday.

Islamabad is set to import half a million tons of sugar from India and allow the purchase of cotton from the neighboring country until June.

Pakistan had suspended bilateral trade in August 2019 due to the withdrawal of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status by New Delhi.

The measure was accompanied by the expulsion of the Indian ambassador, with India also responding by sending back the Pakistani envoy.

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

However, signs of a slight thaw in ties have 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, who he had earlier compared to Adolf Hitler.

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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