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Pakistan says no to trade with India until Delhi reviews Kashmir status

Reuters/Islamabad
Filed on April 1, 2021
Pakistani Foreign Minister and vice President of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Photo: AFP

Decision has been deferred for the time being, not overturned completely.

Pakistan’s cabinet on Thursday put on hold a decision made by the country’s top economic decision-making body to allow imports of cotton and sugar from neighbouring India until Delhi reviews its 2019 move to revoke the Kashmir region’s special status, the foreign minister said.

In an effort to cool local demand and prices, Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the imports, which was to have ended nearly two years of trade suspension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

“It was a consensus opinion, including the prime minister, that as long as India doesn’t review the Aug. 5, 2019, unilateral steps it took, it wouldn’t be possible to normalise relations with India,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said of the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which had to endorse the ECC’s decision for trade to start.

India and Pakistan control parts of the mountainous Kashmir region, but both claim it in full. The region has been a flashpoint for decades, during which time the countries have fought three wars.

Pakistan was one of the leading buyers of Indian cotton until 2019, when Islamabad banned imports of goods from India after New Delhi revoked the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region.

The decision to import cotton and sugar has now been deferred for the time being, not overturned completely.

“There was a debate (in the cabinet), and I tell you a majority isn’t in favour that we start trade with India without talking about the Kashmir issue,” the source said on condition of anonymity.





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