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Can trade revive Indo-Pak ties?

Shafaqna Pakistan | by S A Sehgal- To be fair to Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, the matter of trade with India falls within his purview, as evidenced by the fact that the previous Finance Minister expressing support for it led to his removal from the portfolio, as seen in the case of PTI’s Hammad Azhar. While Senator Dar may recognize that the current BJP government in India is unlikely to pursue trade ties due to its Hindutva ideology and its forthcoming election campaign centered on animosity toward Pakistan, his statement about considering reopening trade still requires courage and implies a commitment from the PML(N) government to a course of action that wasn’t necessarily anticipated.

Trade with India is a contentious issue due to its implications for Pakistan’s stance in the US-China dispute. The USA views trade as a leverage point to pressure Pakistan into accepting Indian dominance. The Kashmir dispute is a significant factor, especially with India’s revocation of Kashmir’s special status in 2019, as Senator Dar pointed out. However, there are few signs that the BJP-led Indian government is willing to engage in constructive dialogue with Pakistan. Notably, India has shown no willingness to address non-tariff trade barriers or engage meaningfully in SAARC, opting instead to prioritize bilateral relations where it holds a dominant position rather than treating other member states as equals within the SAARC framework.

Nevertheless, Senator Dar may require more time to adjust to his new role. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s reliance on Dar’s experience, such as appointing him as head of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization, indicates the value placed on his expertise. However, it’s essential for Dar to exercise restraint and allow the Finance or Commerce Ministers to take the lead on matters such as trade with India. Moving forward, they should be tasked with handling the follow-up on this issue.

Source: Shafaqna Pakistan

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