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Will not restore trade ties with India until autonomy returned to IOK: PM Imran

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically rejected the normalization of trade ties with India until New Delhi reinstates Article 370 of its Constitution, which guaranteed a semi-autonomous status for Indian-occupied Kashmir.

While presiding over a meeting the prime minister said, “Starting trade ties with India while neglecting the Kashmir issue will give a wrong impression. The ties would not normalize unless Kashmiris get their right to self-determination,” he added.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and senior officials of the Foreign Office were also present in the meeting on Friday in Islamabad.

Stressing upon the neighboring country to review its August 05 decisions, PM Imran said Pakistan has always stressed the need that India should create a positive environment for the two countries to move forward. The prime minister urged the stakeholders to take steps for the import of the commodities from the alternate resources.

It is worth mentioning here that the federal cabinet rejected an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) proposal to permit the import of cotton and sugar from India.

On March 31, newly-appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar had chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet where summaries for approving the import of sugar and cotton from India discussed.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet took up two summaries of the commerce and textile ministry to lift the ban on the import of cotton, cotton yarn and white sugar from India.

The Commerce and Textile divisions had submitted five crucial summaries for approval besides others. The Textile Division has sought permission to lift the ban on the import of cotton and cotton yarn from India.

Another summary of the commerce ministry had also sought permission to allow the import of white sugar from India through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan and commercial importers.

The commerce and textile ministry also submitted a summary on the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2020-25, which envisages over Rs1 trillion support for the textile and clothing sector.

The ECC approval was also sought to register pink rock salt as a geographical indication by Pakistan. Pakistan had suspended all bilateral trade with Indian following New Delhi’s decision to revoke Article 370.

On August 9, 2019, Pakistan downgraded trade relations with India. Pakistan had allowed cotton, yarn and sugar imports from all countries except India.

In May 2020, Pakistan lifted the ban on the import of medicines and raw material from India to ensure there is no shortage of essential drugs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This was the first step of reversing of complete suspension of trade with India.