A special meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan to review relations with India has refused to resume trade with New Delhi until the restoration of Article 370 that granted autonomy to occupied Kashmir.

“Our principled stance is that without resolving the issue of Kashmir, we can not go ahead with trade,” sources quoted PM Imran Khan as saying.

“This will give a wrong impression that we are neglecting Kashmir and going ahead with trade with India,” they said, adding that Pakistan cannot normalise ties with India till the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

On Thursday, the federal cabinet had refused to approve the proposal of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to resume the cotton and sugar trade with India, linking its resumption to the restoration of occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status.

Sources had told The Correspondent that the cabinet deferred the summary of the ECC that had approved the import of cotton and sugar from India on Wednesday owing to the political fallout of the decision.

During the meeting of the cabinet, some members had objected to the ECC proposal. According to sources, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Planning Minister Asad Umar had opposed the proposal by the ECC which led to the matter being deferred.

Following the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, in a comment to the reporters, had said that the government has deferred trade talks with India until the restoration of Article 370 that had granted autonomy to occupied Kashmir.

On Aug 5 2019, India had scrapped the special status of Kashmir by abrogating the said article.

On Wednesday, the ECC meeting chaired by Finance Minister Hammad Azhar had approved the import of cotton and sugar with India to save cost.

His decision, however, resulted in a barrage of criticism by the opposition parties and his own colleagues who questioned the motive behind this move.

The opposition questioned the government over talks with trade with India that prompted Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari to respond. “Just for the record – All ECC decisions have to be approved by Cabinet & only then they can be seen as “approved by govt”! So today in Cabinet there will be a discussion on ECC decisions incl trade with India & then govt decision will be taken!,” she had tweeted before the cabinet meeting.


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