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Pakistan’s U-turn on India Imports: Bilateral Ties Hit as Imran Khan Cabinet Raises Kashmir Issue

Pakistan has rejected the proposal its own government body of resuming the import of sugar and cotton from India, on the condition of India reconsidering its decision on the abrogation of Article 370.

    April, 02, 2021: By linking the restoration of the trade ties with Article 370, Pakistan has once again brought the relations between India and Pakistan, which seemed to be on the path of becoming better, back to square one.

The Imran Khan-led government of Pakistan has rejected the proposal its own government body of resuming the import of sugar and cotton from India, on the condition of India reconsidering its decision of the abrogation of Article 370.

The Pakistan government, which had hinted restoration of normal trade ties with India after the Cabinet Economic Coordination Committee on Wednesday, approved the recommendation to restore import of cotton and sugar from India. However, the proposal was later rejected by the Imran Khan-led Federal Cabinet.

The cabinet is of the view that normal relations with India were “not possible” until the country did not reconsider its decision of scrapping article 370, a move made on August 5, 2019.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Pakistan’s internal minister Sheikh Rashid said “India must first restore the special status of Kashmir for the restoration of trade ties with India”.

“We have deferred until India does not restore the 370 status (in Kashmir), till then cotton and sugar will not be imported (from India),” Rashid said.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was also part of the federal cabinet meet, said that it was wrong to say that ties between India and Pakistan were returning towards normal.

“People are saying that relation between India and Pakistan are returning to normal. The relations between India and Pakistan can never become normal till India does not reconsider its decision of August 5, 2019. Till then, it won’t be possible to bring relations to normal,” Qureshi said.

“In today’s Cabinet, ECC- Economic Coordination Committee request seeking approval for resuming import of Cotton and Sugar from India, was discussed. It was decided after discussion that it is rejected and needs further consideration,” Qureshi said.

The ECC recommendation was being seen as one of the biggest measures taken yet to restore ties between the nations, second to the Feb 22, 2021 DGMO level talks that agreed to abide by the ceasefire agreement between the armed forces of both the nations on the Line of Control and the International Border.

On August 5, 2019, India had scrapped Article 370 of the constitution which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

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