The federal cabinet on Thursday deferred the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) decision to resume trade with India until the Modi-led government reviews its 2019 move to abrogate the autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.

In an effort to cool local demand and prices, the ECC on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the imports from India.

That move was to have ended nearly two years of trade suspension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Federal Minister for Human rights Shireen Mazari said in a Tweet that the Prime Minister Imran Khan and cabinet members made it clear that “there no normalisation of relations” until New Delhi revoke its illegal action of abrogating autonomous status of IIOJK.

And today Cabinet stated clearly NO trade with India. PM made clear there can be no normalisation of relations with India until they reverse their illegal actions viz IIOJK of 5 Aug 2019.
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 1, 2021

Headed by newly-appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar, the ECC had announced to resume trade with India as part of an understanding to gradually normalise bilateral relations and ensure food security of the country that is bracing for shortages of wheat, sugar and cotton

The country had suspended bilateral trade with India on August 9, 2019 after “the Indian government’s unilateral action to change the status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI chaired meeting of the Federal Cabinet from Bani Gala via video link.
— Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) April 1, 2021

In the first place, the ECC of the cabinet, immediately allowed the import of 500,000 metric tonnes of sugar and unspecified quantity of cotton and yarn from India to bridge the nearly three million shortfalls.

The cabinet body approved procurement of 6.3 million metric tonnes of wheat from the local farmers at the minimum price of Rs1,800 per 40 kilogrammes.

The sugar trade was being re-opened with India this year because of the difference in prices in the neighbouring country, Finance Minister Azhar said. He added that the government estimated a difference of 15-20% in sugar prices in India as compared to Pakistan.

Also read: Trade ties with India resume

“We have allowed the import of sugar but in the rest of the world too, sugar prices are high because of which imports are not possible,” the minister said.

The ECC allowed the commercial import of white sugar from India up to 500,000 metric tonnes till June 30, 2021 through land and sea routes, on the basis of quota issued by the commerce ministry. The decision will be time and cost effective and would also stabilise the prices of sugar in the domestic markets, said the finance ministry..

(With additional input from our correspondent)