Pakistan reiterates position on relations with India, demands pre-August 5 status of IOJK

April 1, 2021 11:42 pm by Web Desk
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry speaking during a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet here in Islamabad on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Photo: Screengrab via Geo News.

ISLAMABAD:  The Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said that even though India-Pakistan relations can be a game-changer for the region and Pakistan wishes to normalise relations with the neighbouring state, things cannot progress until India revokes its August 5 move in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking during a press conference after a cabinet meeting here in Islamabad, Fawad Chaudhry said that the normalisation of trade relations with India, as previously proposed by the newly-appointed finance minister Hammad Azhar, is not possible because of the Indian atrocities in IOJK.

“If India commits a massacre against Muslims and refuses to give Kashmiri people their due right, Pakistan cannot have normal diplomatic relations with India,” he said.

The minister added that the federal cabinet has reiterated its position that the normalisation of relations with India is not possible until it revisits its Kashmir policy.

“We want to have good relations with India and move forward with our economy, but India should first revoke its August 5, 2019, move,” he said.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government had rushed through a presidential decree to abolish Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Indian occupied Kashmir amid rising tensions in the disputed valley with unprecedented numbers of Indian troops deployed in the region.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah had introduced a resolution to scrap Article 370 in Rajya Sabha which led to the revocation of the special status granted to occupied Kashmir and make the state a Union Territory with the legislature.

Read more: What are Articles 370 and 35A?

‘98% of Pakistanis will get free coronavirus vaccine’

Speaking on the COVID-19 vaccination front, the federal minister said that 98% of the population will be inoculated for free, however, the 2% — who do not wish to stand in queues — can pay and get themselves inoculated from private hospitals, he said.

Lauding the PTI-led government’s efforts, Chaudhry said that Pakistan is “one of the few countries that received praises from the world for tackling the coronavirus situation in an effective manner.” 

“The government is determined to battle coronavirus as it did during the previous two waves,” he said.

However, there are two issues with the private vaccine, the minister said. “First, the importer brings the vaccine into the country and once that’s done, they set rates according to their wishes,” the minister said.

He added that two vaccines — Russais’s Sputnik V and China’s CanSino — have been imported in Pakistan so far.

“The Russian vaccine’s rate cannot be determined at the moment, as the issue of setting its price is currently underway in the Sindh High Court,” he said. “However, CanSino’s price has been set at Rs4,225 per dose.

The federal minister said that people have to get two doses of all other COVID-19 vaccines, however, for CanSino, they need to get only one jab.

Chaudhry further said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad would be able to avail the services of the Health Card, while all the people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa already have the facility.

“There have been no increases in medicine prices, however, the rates of [some] medicines have been revised,” he said.

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