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NEW DELHI : slamabad on Thursday reportedly reversed its decision to import sugar and cotton from India, a day after Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Council said embargoes on Indian imports had been lifted.

The “swift U-turn" came on the back of a political backlash, according to news reports. Pakistan finance minister Hammad Azhar had on Wednesday said the Imran Khan government had decided to import sugar from India “in the interest of the people", to rein in rampant inflation before Ramzan.

However, on Thursday interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said the decision had been “deferred" until New Delhi restored “Indian-administered Kashmir’s" special status. The reference was to India revoking the special status conferred on Kashmir as per the provisions of an Article in its Constitution in August 2019 after which Pakistan snapped trade with India and downgraded diplomatic ties. Both nations withdrew their top diplomats and consular staff were expelled or withdrawn.

There has been a frosty stand-off since, but recently there have been signs of rapprochement, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Imran Khan exchanging letters and the resumption of talks last week on the use of Indus River water. Pakistan’s economy is in the doldrums, a position made worse by a third wave of covid resulting in the reintroduction of partial lockdowns across the country, the AFP reported. The import of half a million tonnes of sugar would likely have slashed prices by up to 20%, the report said. The economic committee had also paved the way for three million tonnes of wheat to be brought in, as well as unspecified quantities of cotton and yarn, it said.

New Delhi had not officially reacted to reports of Pakistan lifting embargos on imports from India. The cautious response followed several earlier attempts by the Modi government and its predecessors to stabilize and improve relations with Pakistan. That the two foreign ministers were in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for a conference but did not seem to have a meeting is being seen as an indication that the two nations had some way to go.

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