Reversing its decision within 24 hours, Pakistani government Imran Khan refused to approve the import of cotton and sugar from India. On Thursday April 1, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said relations 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 announced that the ban on imports from India had been lifted. He announced the withdrawal of the ban for almost two years on the import of cotton and sugar from India after the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (CCE) chaired by him. Qureshi said that at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the cabinet discussed the issue of importing cotton and sugar from India in an attempt to cool local demand and prices.
Qureshi said in a video message: “It is 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 position unless India does not withdraw the unilateral action of On August 5, 2019, normalization of relations with India is not possible. ”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhary said the cabinet discussed the issue of relations and trade with India and decided things could not progress as long as India does not take a step back from Kashmir. He said: “We want to cooperate with India, but the first condition is that it will have to return to the stand in Kashmir before August 5, 2019”.
India is the world’s largest producer of cotton and the second largest producer of sugar.
There had been speculation about Azhar’s decision since the afternoon, but officials have remained silent and ultimately the first comment on the decision came from Shirin Mazari, Minister of Human Rights, who is known for its firm attitude towards Kashmir. After the cabinet meeting, Mazari tweeted: “The cabinet made it clear today that there will be no trade with India.”
Mazari said Prime Minister Imran Khan, who chaired the cabinet meeting for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 on March 20, “made it clear that relations with India cannot be normal unless the measures taken in Kashmir are withdrawn on August 5, 2019.