• Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Pakistan keen to restore trade ties with India: Minister

Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi after the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar (middle) along with Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (left) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi (right) at the IAEA Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2024. REUTERS/Yves Herman

By: Shajil Kumar

Pakistan will “seriously” consider restoring trade ties with India that remained suspended since August 2019, Foreign Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar has said, indicating a potential shift in the country’s diplomatic stance.

Dar made these remarks during a press conference in London following his participation in the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels, Geo News reported.

He highlighted the eagerness of cash-strapped Pakistan’s business community to resume trade activities with India. “Pakistani businessmen want trade with India to resume,” the foreign minister said on Saturday.

“We will seriously look into matters of trade with India,” Dar was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune newspaper.

Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two union territories.

The decision, Islamabad said, undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbours.

Pakistan has been insisting that the onus of improving the ties was on India and urging it to undo its “unilateral” steps in Kashmir as a sort of pre-condition to start the talks.

India has dismissed the suggestion and made it clear to Pakistan that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were integral and inalienable parts of the country.

New Delhi has also asserted that the constitutional measures taken by the Indian government to ensure socio-economic development and good governance in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are matters internal to India.

It has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment that is free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.

Despite the frosty ties, the two countries agreed to renew the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) in February 2021.

Lately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a post on X congratulated Shehbaz Sharif on becoming the head of Pakistan’s government, prompting hopes for a diplomatic thaw.

Sharif responded days later with an equally curt post, thanking Modi for his “felicitations”.

The Sharif-led coalition government came to power after the February 8 elections but it began its tenure with a dwindling economy.

Pakistan is currently engaging with the International Monetary Fund to restore long-term economic growth. (PTI)

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