Pakistan defers trade with India until Delhi reviews Kashmir’s status, foreign minister says

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s cabinet on Thursday put off allowing imports of cotton and sugar from neighbouring India until Delhi reviews its 2019 move to revoke the Kashmir region’s special status, the foreign minister said.

In an effort to cool local demand and prices, Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the country’s top economic decision-making body, gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for the imports, which would have ended nearly two years of trade suspension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

“It was a consensus opinion, including the prime minister, that as long as India doesn’t review the Aug. 5, 2019, unilateral steps it took, it wouldn’t be possible to normalise relations with India,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said of the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which had to endorse the ECC’s decision for trade to start.

He said the cabinet decided to defer the decision.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Pakistan would defer a decision within a day. The ECC approval came only after Khan had seen and authorised the proposal to import sugar from India, according to a commerce ministry summary seen by Reuters.

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