Imran Khan chairs the federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad. Twitter photo
Pakistan's cabinet on Thursday put off allowing imports of cotton and sugar from neighbouring India until Delhi reviews its 2019 move to revoke the Kashmir region's special status, the foreign minister said.
The cancellation followed criticism by Pakistan's opposition parties, which denounced Wednesday's lifting of a two-year-old ban on the import of cotton and sugar from India, saying the government had acted without parliament's approval and had moved to normalise relations with New Delhi without resolving the issue of disputed Kashmir.
In an effort to cool local demand and prices, Pakistan's Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the country's top economic decision-making body, gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for the imports, which would have ended nearly two years of trade suspension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
"It was a consensus opinion, including the prime minister, that as long as India doesn't review the Aug.5, 2019, unilateral steps it took, it wouldn't be possible to normalise relations with India," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said of the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which had to endorse the ECC's decision for trade to start.
He said the cabinet decided to defer the decision.
It wasn't immediately clear why Pakistan would defer a decision within a day. The ECC approval came only after Imran had seen and authorised the proposal to import sugar from India, according to a commerce ministry summary seen by Reuters.
India's foreign office didn't respond to a request for comments.
The developments have come amid a gradual thawing between the two neighbours after their militaries released a rare joint statement last month, announcing a ceasefire along the Kashmir border.
Pakistan was one of the leading buyers of Indian cotton until 2019, when Islamabad banned imports of goods from India after New Delhi revoked the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region.
Reuters / AP
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