Pakistan turnabouts on trade cooperation with India

Islamabad: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan demanded from the government that cotton and sugar should be imported from India, to provide relief to traders and the population of the country. The Pakistan government was preparing to accept the demand. But the Imran Khan government, known for making U-turns on decisions, once again lived up to its reputation by reversing the decision. Pakistan cabinet of ministers said that trade with India is not possible, singing the Kashmir tune once again. Therefore, the Pakistani population and traders, hoping to restart trade with India, have been immensely disappointed.

Hammad Azhar, Pakistan Finance Minister, had indicated that cotton and sugar may be purchased from India. The rates of sugar have skyrocketed in Pakistan. The Pakistan population is cursing the government for this. Claiming that Indian sugar, which is about 15% to 20% cheaper than Pakistani sugar, is a viable option, Hammad Azhar had indicated that 500,000 tonnes of sugar would be imported from India. The Pakistan weaving industry had requested permission from the government to import cotton from India.

Pakistan turnabouts on trade cooperation with IndiaImran Khan government had made preparations to accept these proposals. Since the last few weeks, Pakistan government and the military are vying to establish peace with India. Therefore, importing sugar and cotton from India was being considered consistent with the efforts of the government. But the hate India brigade objected strongly to the proposal. The hate India brigade castigated the government asking the question ‘What happened to Prime Minister Imran’s announcement that Pakistan will have no trade with India unless the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is reversed?’

Pakistan had recalled its Ambassador from India after the abrogation of article 370. Pakistan severed ties with India on nearly all levels. The Pakistan media started a spate of questions like ‘When there is no change in the Indian stand over article 370, on what basis is the Pakistan government starting trade with India?’ and ‘What is Imran Khan, who called former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a traitor for increasing cooperation with India, doing now?’ at the same time, some former Pakistan military officials expressed regret that the Pakistan government has kneeled down in front of India, on the Kashmir issue.

The Pakistan government succumbing to these pressures, announced that trade with India cannot be started in the cabinet meeting. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made this announcement. But Qureshi refrained from making vitriolic criticism against India. Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed satisfaction that India did not criticise Pakistan in the Heart of Asia conference that was recently held in Tajikistan. He also was targeted by the hate India brigade. Therefore, the hate India spirit carefully nurtured by Prime Minister Imran Khan, seems to be the biggest obstacle for the policy to increase cooperation with India.

Pakistan has hardly any options left other than cooperating with India to recover the collapsed economy and reduce international pressures by overcoming internal challenges. On realisation of this fact, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran had proposed talks with India. The Pakistan army chief also endorsed the proposal. But Imran Khan is suffering the repercussions of the hate India campaign intensified by he himself.

The government of Imran Khan, who had thundered that there will be no trade with India unless article 370 is reinstated, was forced to buy medicines from India in May 2020. Reports are being received that the Coronavirus pandemic is rampaging in Pakistan even today. In this scenario, Pakistan wants to get the Corona vaccine from India without making a formal demand. Pakistan is not willing to forward its conditions while accepting the vaccine. But the question has arisen whether Pakistan will adopt a similar stern stand in respect of the Corona vaccine, like the one taken in the case of sugar and cotton.

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