Indo-Pak trade put off as political ties turn sour

Indo-Pak trade put off as political ties turn sour

New Delhi: With India-Pakistan relations touching a new low after terror attacks on Mumbai, bilateral exchange of trade and ministerial delegations as a part of the political composite dialogue has been put off indefinitely.

Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh who was to visit Islamabad and Karachi either in the first or second week of January, has “more or less" cancelled the tour.

India had earlier given two sets of date for Ramesh’s visit which was to take place before the secretary-level talks. “It was either 5-9 January or 13th onward," he said.

While the Commerce Ministry would be approaching the Ministry of External Affairs on the issue, an official said, “I don’t think the MEA would give a go-ahead for the next few months."

Besides, the commerce secretary-level talks which were due in Islamabad are in a jeopardy. “Things are in the hands of MEA now," the official said.

Several trade opening issues had been discussed in the previous rounds of talks.

India has blamed Pakistani elements for the terror attacks on Mumbai last week which took over 200 lives and held the financial capital of India to ransom for over three days.

New Delhi was engaged in modernising the customs clearance facilities at the Wagah border. A 140-acre warehouse on this border was also planned.

It was only a few months ago that the two countries opened trade across the Line of Control in Kashmir.

The bilateral trade in 2007-08 was $1.67 billion, which jumped substantially from $869 million in the previous year thanks to improvement in relations.