ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Cabinet on Thursday canceled a decision announced the previous day ago about allowing the resumption of partial trade with nuclear-rival neighboring India, 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 normalize relations with New Delhi without resolving the issue of disputed Kashmir.
The reversal of the decision also reflects the vulnerability of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, which cannot risk being seen as backtracking on critical issues of India and Kashmir.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, chaired by Khan, concluded that trade with India will remain suspended until New Delhi reverses a 2019 decision under which the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir was stripped of its statehood and special constitutional status.
Qureshi said the lifting of the ban had given the misguided impression of normalizing all ties with India.
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Hammad Azhar announced on Wednesday that the government would allow the import of cotton and 0.5 tons of sugar from India, following a decision by the economic coordination council, Pakistan’s top decision-making body on commerce.
The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety. The archrivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.