Pakistan’s top economic decision-making body ECC gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for the imports
Taking a U-turn on its decision within 24 hours, Pakistan’s Imran Khan government has refused to approve the import of cotton and sugar from India. On Thursday (April 1), Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the relationship between the two countries cannot be normal until New Delhi withdraws its decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier on Wednesday (March 31), Pakistan’s new finance minister Hammad Azhar had announced that the ban on imports from India has been lifted. He announced the withdrawal of the nearly two-year-old ban on the import of cotton and sugar from India after the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) chaired by him. Qureshi said that in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the cabinet discussed the issue of import of cotton and sugar from India in an effort to cool local demand and prices.
Qureshi said in a video message, “It is being presented that relations with India have become normal and trade has been restored. There is a unanimous opinion of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on this stance that unless India withdraws the unilateral action of August 5, 2019, normalization of relations with India is not possible.’
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhary said that the cabinet discussed the issue of relations and trade with India and decided that things cannot progress until India take does not take its step back on Kashmir. He said, “We want to cooperate with India but the first condition is that it will have to go back to the stand on Kashmir before 5 August 2019.”
India is the world’s largest cotton producer and the second-largest sugar producer.
There was speculation about Azhar’s decision since afternoon but the officials were silent and finally, the first comment about the decision came from Shirin Mazari, Minister of Human Rights, who is known for his staunch attitude towards Kashmir. After the cabinet meeting, Mazari tweeted, “The cabinet today clearly stated that there will be no trade with India.”
Mazari said that Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was presiding over the cabinet meeting for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20, “made it clear that relations with India cannot be normal unless they withdraw the action taken in Kashmir on August 5, 2019.