ISLAMABAD        -   The Ministry of Commerce would likely to present the summary to suspend the bilateral trade with India in federal cabinet today (Friday) following the decision of National Security Committee (NSC).

The NSC on Wednesday, in light of India’s recent actions in occupied Kashmir, suspended all bilateral trade and downgraded Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with New Delhi.  The ministry of Commerce would formally present a summary in federal cabinet’s meeting to suspend trade with India immediately, said an official of the ministry.  He further said that Ministry of Commerce would make amendment in export/import order after getting approval from the cabinet meeting. The Ministry of Commerce had already clarified that decision of suspending bilateral trade would not dent the Pakistan’s exports, which are worth few million dollars. The decision would hurt the Indian trade with Pakistan as according to the statistics. Indian exports to Pakistan are worth $1.8 billion. The trade balance always remained in favour of India.

The official said that trade with India had already reduced after Pulwama attack, February 2019. The Indian government had imposed 200 percent duty on the imports from Pakistan after Pulwama attack besides withdrawing Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. According to the official data, imports from India had declined by over 36 percent in four months (February to June) in wake of Pulwama attack. Imports from India remained $965 million from February to June, 2018) whereas this year the figures have declined to $611 million in the corresponding period.

According to the details presented in National Assembly, the Ministry of Commerce studied all the options available with Pakistan including imposing heavy import duties on all Indian origin products in wake of Pulwama attack. However, on the following grounds, the option was discarded because the decision may politically sound good but not economically viable.  More than 50 percent of imports are either raw materials or intermediate/semi processed goods i.e. cotton, cotton yarn, P-xylene.  The cost of doing would have increase and Pakistan’s export competitiveness might affect if the government had enhanced the import duty on Indian products.

However, the NSC decided to suspend all bilateral trade after Indian government’s decision to issue a presidential order to repeal the Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) supported the decisions of NSC to downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India due to its illegal actions at Occupied Kashmir. ICCI President Ahmed Hassan Moughal, ICCI Senior Vice President Rafat Farid and ICCI Vice President IftikharAnwar Sethi, said that India has taken unilateral and illegal step by revoking the special status of Occupied Kashmir and business community strongly condemned this reprehensible approach of India. They said that in the prevailing circumstances, ICCI would fully support government and would stand with armed forces against the aggressive moves of India.

ICCI Presidnt said that in line with the government’s stand, the business community of Pakistan would observe 14th August 2019 in solidarity with Kashmiris and 15th August 2019 as Black Day to send a united message to the whole world that every citizen of Pakistan was with Kashmiris in their just struggle for independence from Indian yoke.

ICCI President appealed Pakistani nation that they should immediately boycott all Indian products to give a message of sympathy to Kashmiris. He also stressed upon the business community to stop doing any kind of trade with India to show them their disgust against illegal steps of their government. He said that business community also supported the government’s move to revise all bilateral arrangements with India and take its illegal revocation of special status of Occupied Kashmir to the United Nations.

In his messages to the Kashmiris, Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that the whole Pakistani nation is standing with them in these challenging times. He said that every Pakistani was praying for their independence from India and was ready to render every sacrifice for them. He said that Kashmiris were giving great sacrifices for their independence and hoped that one day they would get freedom from Indian occupation. He reaffirmed that business community would keep supporting every move and decision of the government against India to safeguard the interests of Kashmiris.