The Pakistan government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has decided to resume trade with India, designating a trade minister for the task.
Though the decision is being seen as a major development in terms of country’s dire economic condition, it is also being seen as a major compromise by Islamabad and a back step from its previous stance against India after August 5, 2019.
In a federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Shehbaz Sharif, it was decided that Pakistan will be working towards reopening of trade with India and appointing Pakistan People Party’s Qamar Zamar Kaira as Minister of Trade, in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for the task.
Moreover, similar trade officers and ministers are being designated in at least 15 countries, to enhance trade relations and agreements with their respective countries.
The decision to resume trade with India is a difficult decision that Shehbaz Sharif has taken because the former Prime Minister Imran Khan had halted trade with India after the Modi government abrogated Article 370 of its constitution and changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Imran Khan had also downgraded diplomatic ties with India and asked the then sitting Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad to leave the country also.
Previously, the same recommendation of resumption of trade with India was rejected by then Prime Minister Imran Khan till the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The current decision has come under sever criticism by analysts and public at large, who accuse the Shehbaz Sharif government for compromising Pakistan’s interest and also damaging hopes of the people of Kashmir.
“Any step taken by PM Shehbaz Sharif led government towards trade with India will not only be a sellout of the Kashmiris but also the beginning of a soft surrender to Indian hegemony,” said senior journalist and analyst Nazim Zehra.
The decision is also not expected to be of any help to Shehbaz Sharif politically. However, it has certainly given a new point for former premier Imran Khan, who has slammed Shehbaz Sharif for what he called bowing down to India and back tracking on the country’s policy, agreed upon after August 5, 2019.
Pakistan’s economic condition is moving towards a meltdown, which is coupled with the strict demands from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of its loan facility of $6 billion.