Only a day after the federal cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) decided to restore trade ties with India, paving way for Sugar, cotton and cotton yarn import from the neighboring country, in the federal cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan the proposal was rejected.
On Wednesday, the newly appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar, in a hurriedly called press conference had stated that sugar “price in India is significantly cheaper than Pakistan; therefore, we have decided to open its trade and allow commercial import of 500,000 tonnes of white sugar”.
The announcement, which had caught many by surprise, aroused mix reactions. While some supported the move arguing that economic ties should remain insulated from the political developments, just like in the case of China-India and US-China relations – others criticized the government for backtracking on its earlier position in the aftermath of India’s Aug 5 unilateral measures.
Read more: Here comes Hammad Azhar and the challenges awaiting the new Finance Minister
The minister, while explaining the government’s position said that the decision to allow trade from India was taken in light of the increasing textile exports of the country which have necessitated supplies of cotton yarn. He added that since the import of cotton and yarn was already permissible from other countries, their import from India would facilitate small textile industries.
It’s noteworthy that the ECC proposal rejected by the federal cabinet on Thursday came against the backdrop of FIRs being registered against former secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Khan Tareen and his son Ali Tareen in sugar scam. The Federal Investigation Agency is rigorously investigating the multi-billion-rupee sugar scam involving powerful cartels. The father-son duo is charged with money laundering and fraud.
Recently, there has been seen a thaw in Pakistan-India relations. Beginning with the ceasefire agreement followed by a joint DGMO statement, the bilateral Indus Water Commission’s talks, Prime Minister Modi’s felicitations on the occasion of Pakistan Day and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warm response. The trade and diplomatic ties which had been dealt with a huge blow post India’s Aug 5th actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir – and had been significantly downgraded – are now showing signs of improvement.
Read more: IMF program and SBP amendment open to be reviewed, Minister
Earlier Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari sought cautious and factual reporting by the media and advised against reaching any premature conclusions. She said, “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 discussion on ECC decisions incl trade with India & then govt decision will be taken! Media should be aware of this at least!”
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 discussion on ECC decisions incl trade with India & then govt decision will be taken! Media shd be aware of this atleast!
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 1, 2021
Prominent TV analyst Dr. Moeed Pirzada hailed the development saying, “Pakistan federal cabinet just rejected ECC summary for import of sugar & cotton from India; Wise decision, sustained peace is only possible on the principle of reciprocity & Modi’s India is not in a position to make meaningful concessions!”
Pakistan federal cabinet just rejected ECC summary for import of sugar & cotton from India; Wise decision, sustained peace is only possible on the principle of reciprocity & Modi’s India is not in a position to make meaningful concessions! https://t.co/zfs3hGC8KK via @YouTube
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) April 1, 2021
Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said, “The matter of Trade with India has been deferred in today’s cabinet meeting, no trade with India until it reverses actions of article 370.”
Read more: Pakistani Rupee becomes the best performer of 2021
The matter of Trade with #India has been DEFERRED in today's cabinet meeting, NO trade with India until it reverses actions of article 370 says @ShkhRasheed, Federal Interior Minister. #Pakistan
— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) April 1, 2021