Pakistan PM Imran Khan faces stiff opposition over restoration of sugar, cotton imports from India

1 month ago 6

The decision of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government to allow the import of cotton and yarn from India after nearly two years has met with criticism from Opposition leaders and journalists in the country.

Pakistan had snapped trade ties with India following the scrapping of Article 370 in J&K in August 2019 and the division of the state into two new Union Territories.

Several Opposition leaders held press conferences to express concern over the decision.

Questioning the U-turn by Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League (N) said the people of Pakistan were paying a price for the failures of his administration.

"I want to know if India has reversed its decision on Article 370? Has India given any concession at all. This proves that this government has no standing in looking after this country," PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told reporters in Islamabad.

370 @betterpakistan

— PML(N) (@pmln_org) March 31, 2021

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Hammad Azhar announced Pakistan Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision to import 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar and cotton from India. Azhar said Pakistan was looking to India for imports because of a bad crop year.

Taking a jibe at Azhar, Reham Khan, political activist and former wife of Imran Khan, tweeted, "What are the climate changes that have destroyed crops on this side of the border and so much cotton in India that they are selling it to other countries?"

— Reham Khan (@RehamKhan1) March 31, 2021

Dr Ajay Sahai, DG and CEO of Federation of Indian Exporters' Association, said it was time that Pakistan restored the MFN (Most-Favoured-Nation) status to India, which would help in "normalisation" of relations. Trade between the two countries amounts to $2.5 billion.

"The decision taken by Pakistan to lift the ban on imports of cotton yarn and sugar is solely guided by economic considerations. The prices of these commodities have gone up in Pakistan. They floated a tender also but the prices that other countries quoted was much more than the prices at which India can supply these products," he said.

Imran govt re-opens trade with India by happily allowing import of yarn and 500,000 tons of sugar. The U-turn must be a depressing shock to Kashmiris who are witnessing from their state of siege Modi-Imran courtship blossom even as their Delhi-imposed dark miseries continue.

— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) March 31, 2021

"The logistics cost of buying from India is very low as compared to other sources. There are challenges on the shipping front. If the supplies can be addressed through land route then it takes care of a lot," he said.

The development comes amidst a renewed push for peace between the two countries. Last month, both the countries announced a ceasefire along the Line of Control and all other sectors.

It was followed by an exchange of letters by the prime ministers of the two countries on the occasion of Pakistan Day.

I guess the NSA @YusufMoeed is not invited to the meetings where these decisions are taken. He has been actively trying to play down the recent normalization of relations between India & Pakistan. What happened to "no talks with India unless they restore 370?" Modi ka yaar?

— Saqib Tanveer (@SaqibTanveer) March 31, 2021

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also acknowledged that the speech of his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar at the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan was not particularly harsh on Pakistan.