‘No change in policy on trade with India’

Wagah Border in Lahore. Photo: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday made it clear that there was no change in Pakistan’s policy on trade with India, says a press release.

The Ministry of Commerce manages 57 trade missions in 46 countries, which includes the post of Minister (Trade and Investment) in New Delhi, India.

The post of Minister (Trade and Investment) in New Delhi has existed for more than two decades and has no connection with the operationalisation of trade with India or otherwise in the current context.

The current cycle for selection of Trade and Investment Officers (TIOs), including New Delhi, was initiated in December, 2021 and the final recommendations of the Interview Board were sent to Prime Minister’s Office on April 1, 2022 i.e. during the previous government. The present government has given final approval to the recommendations of the previous government for selection of 15 TIOs.

The appointment of Minister (Trade and Investment) in New Delhi, therefore, may not be seen in the context of any relaxation of trade restrictions with India. Earlier, former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that Shehbaz Sharif had decided to resume trade with India and the government should review its decision. 

Talking to the media, Shah Mahmood said that it has come to our notice that Shehbaz Sharif’s government has decided to resume trade with India and he was deploying 15 officers in the Pakistani Embassy in India. “We had opposed the resumption of trade with India after the discussion in the cabinet at that time.”

Qureshi added that at the Foreign Office, he took a clear stand and on August 5, 2019, India took action in Kashmir against the UN resolutions. He said that in Imran Khan’s government, there was a proposal in the cabinet to open trade with India as this decision would benefit us but the cabinet and he also opposed the decision.

“Bilawal Bhutto is also silent on this decision. Have you [Bilawal] consulted the Azad Kashmir government on this decision? You have hurt the feelings of the oppressed people of Kashmir and the government should reconsider this decision. Azad Kashmir and Occupied Kashmir will also react to your decision. If India had reduced oppression in Kashmir, that is another matter. Has the status of Kashmir been restored there? No. If not, then this decision should be reversed,” Shah Mehmood said.

The PTI leader also added that there is a serious water crisis at present, farmers of Sindh, Balochistan and south Punjab are protesting but India is building a new project on the river Chenab and violating the Indus Basin Agreement and Bilawal’s silence on all these issues have raised a lot of questions.

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