‘No change’ in Pakistan’s trade strategy with India, says country’s trade minister in New Delhi

'No change' in Pakistan's trade strategy with India, says country's trade minister in New Delhi

“There is no change in Pakistan’s policy on trade with India,” the ministry clarified. It further said that the Post of Minister (Trade and Investment) in New Delhi exists for more than two decades and has no connection with the operationalisation of trade with India or otherwise in the current context.

Pakistan said on Wednesday that the creation of a “trade minister” in New Delhi was a standard procedure and that its trade policy with India had not changed. According to media sources, Pakistani commerce minister Qamar Zaman was appointed in New Delhi on Tuesday, sparking anticipation of a thaw in the two countries’ icy bilateral economic relations. “The Ministry of Commerce maintains 57 Trade Missions in 46 countries, including the office of Minister (Trade and Investment) in New Delhi, India,” according to a statement released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday.

The current cycle for selection of Trade and Investment Officers (TIOs), including New Delhi, was initiated in December 2021 and the final recommendations of the Interview Board were sent to the Prime Minister’s Office on January 4, 2022 which was during the previous government’s term led by Imran Khan. The present government has given the final approval on the recommendations of the previous government for selection of 15 TIOs, the ministry said.

“The appointment of Minister (Trade and Investment) New Delhi, therefore, may not be seen in the context of any relaxation of trade restrictions with India,” it said. Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked since New Delhi abrogated the Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy. Pakistan also halted bilateral trade with India.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of the Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda. India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

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