Onus on Pakistan to resume trade ties with India

New Delhi: The onus is on Pakistan to resume trade with India as it was Islamabad that suspended the bilateral economic engagement in 2019, people familiar with the development said on Thursday.

They also said India has not made any decision on extending aid to Pakistan to help it deal with recent devastating floods.

At the same time, they said India could consider requests from international aid agencies about sending assistance to the neighbouring country through Indian territory.

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There has been a renewed focus on trade between the two countries after Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said this week that Islamabad can consider importing food items from India to deal with the shortages resulting from the floods.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, however, linked resumption of trade with India to a forward movement on the Kashmir issue.

The people cited above said India will not heed to such conditions for the resumption of trade ties, while describing Pakistan’s position on the issue as some sort of “flip-flops”.

“Regarding the floods that have hit Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shared his sadness at the devastation caused by the floods,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a weekly media briefing.

He was replying to a question on whether India would extend humanitarian assistance to Pakistan.

“He (Modi) has extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by the natural calamity. For the moment, that is all I have to say on the issue of assistance,” Bagchi said.

“As regards the trade element, we have seen various statements on this matter. At this point, I have nothing further to add to those statements that we have seen from Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan had suspended trade with India in 2019 in protest against New Delhi’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked whether humanitarian assistance from India to Pakistan will lead to any bonhomie in the ties, Bagchi described such observation as “very speculative”.

Modi last week said he was saddened by the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan.

“Saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by this natural calamity and hope for an early restoration of normalcy,” he said in a tweet.

On his part, Sharif thanked Modi for his message.

“With their characteristic resilience the people of [Pakistan] shall, InshaAllah, overcome the adverse effects of this natural calamity and rebuild their lives and communities,” the Pakistani prime minister said.

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