Pakistan to allow India imports in sign of diplomatic thaw

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan will allow limited imports of sugar, cotton, and wheat from India in a bid to rein in rampant inflation, signalling a further thaw in relations between the two arch-foes.

The government said late Wednesday that permits would be granted for the import of half a million tonnes of sugar – a move expected to slash the price of the commodity by up to 20 per cent ahead of the forthcoming fasting month of Ramadhan, when consumption soars.

Three million tonnes of wheat would also be allowed to be brought in, as well as unspecified quantities of cotton and yarn.

Pakistan’s economy is in the doldrums, a position made worse by a spreading third wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen the reintroduction of partial lockdowns across the country.

Islamabad suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India in 2019 after New Delhi revoked the special status of the part of divided Kashmir that it rules.

Both countries withdrew their top diplomats, and consular staff were expelled or withdrawn.

There has been a frosty stand-off since, but signs of rapprochement recently have included Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan exchanging letters, as well as a resumption of talks last week on the use of resources from their shared Indus River.

Bloomberg reported last week that the United Arab Emirates had brokered secret back-channel talks between the two South Asian nations.

File photo shows an Indian border security force soldier standing guard as an Indian truck, exporting goods to Pakistan, returns back towards the Indian side of a joint check post between India and Pakistan at Wagah, India. PHOTO: AP