Pakistan on Thursday dismissed normalisation of relations with India until New Delhi revokes its August 5, 2019, decision — rescinding the special status of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The development comes after the federal cabinet rejected an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) suggestion to import cotton yarn and sugar from India.
The decision to turn down the proposal was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, hours after Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said the cabinet will review the ECC’s decisions related to trade with India.
In a video statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the decision to import cotton and yarn from Indian came under discussion in the cabinet.
“Following a debate on the matter, the federal cabinet [has] delayed the decision,” he said, adding that until India does not revoke its August 5, 2019 decision, normalisation of relations is out of the question.
A day earlier, Federal Finance Minister Hammad Azhar had announced the government’s intention to import sugar and cotton from India.
The decision was seen as an important milestone in the slowly warming ties between the two neighbouring countries.
The minister, in his first press conference since being given the finance portfolio, had spoken about the high prices of sugar in Pakistan, noting that the government had allowed sugar to be imported from other countries, but the price of the commodity in the supplier countries had risen considerably.
“However, in our neighbouring country India, the price of sugar is quite cheap,” he said. “Hence, we have decided to resume sugar trade with India”.
It is pertinent to mention here that on March 29, FM Qureshi had said he had observed a positive development in the Indian attitude towards Pakistan and the two are heading towards a positive trajectory of ties.
The foreign minister made the remark in Dushanbe during an interview after attending the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.
Qureshi said significant developments in bilateral ties started with the letter from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitating his counterpart on Pakistan Day, which PM Imran Khan responded to.
While responding to a question, FM Qureshi said the revival of Pakistan-India 2013 understanding on the ceasefire at the LoC, Indian PM’s letter of felicitation on Pakistan Day and the fact that Indian Foreign Minister Shiv Shankar Menon did not opt to criticise Pakistan at the Heart of Asia Conference, like on previous occasions, are positive and productive developments.
He said the revival of the ceasefire at the LoC will benefit Kashmiris, who have also praised the development.