NEW DELHI, Sept 2 : The onus for resumption of India-Pakistan trade lies with Islamabad, which unilaterally snapped commercial ties in 2019, people familiar with the matter said.
The issues of both trade and humanitarian assistance have been in focus since Pakistan's Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said earlier this week that Islamabad can consider importing vegetables and food items from India to cope with shortages due to the floods, which have killed more than 1,000 people and affected 33 million.
However, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's remarks during a media briefing on Tuesday that linked the resumption of trade to the resolution of the Kashmir issue have not gone down well on the Indian side, the people said on Thursday. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was non-committal when he was asked about the issues of humanitarian assistance and trade at a weekly media briefing.
"Regarding the floods that have hit Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shared his grief at the devastation caused by the floods. You have seen his comments. He has extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by the natural calamitye For the moment, that's all I have to say on the issue of the assistance," Bagchi said.
"As regards the trade element, we have seen various statements on this matter. At this point, I have nothing further to add to those statements that we have seen from Pakistan," he added.
Bagchi responded to a question about humanitarian assistance possibly leading to bonhomie in India-Pakistan relations by saying this was "very speculative".
Modi expressed sorrow over the floods in a tweet on August 29. "Saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by this natural calamity and hope for an early restoration of normalcy," he said. Sharif thanked Modi in a tweet on Wednesday for conveying his condolences over the human and material losses caused by the floods. During a media briefing in Islamabad on Tuesday, Sharif said there would not "have been problems about trading with India but genocide is going on there and Kashmiris have been denied their rights".
He further said he was ready to "sit and talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We cannot afford war. We will have to dedicate our meagre resources for alleviating poverty in our respective countries but we cannot live in peace without resolving these issues". (IANS)
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