No proposal under consideration to allow import of vegetables from India: Pakistan Foreign Office

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday said no proposals are currently under consideration to allow imports of fruit and vegetables from India, amid growing calls to open trade routes with India. neighboring countries when vegetable and fruit prices spiked due to devastating floods. .
“We are in contact with countries in the region to facilitate the earliest import of vegetables into the country,” FO spokesman Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said at a press conference in Islamabad.
His comments come as some business chambers are urging the Shehbaz Sharif government to import essential items such as onions and tomatoes from neighboring India for the benefit of consumers.
The idea of ​​importing edible items from India was first floated by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Monday due to soaring vegetable prices. However, Ismail said on Wednesday that the government would consult its coalition partners and key stakeholders on importing food items from India, amid opposition criticism of the plan. amid strained relations with New Delhi over the Kashmir issue.
On Thursday, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Atif Munir asked the government to act quickly to maintain the vegetable supply chain.
“Trading with neighboring countries, especially India, is an important factor in reducing shipping costs and that will help provide vegetables and fruits to consumers here at a cheap price,” he said.
Market Committee Secretary Lahore Shehzad Cheema said the government should make a decision to import vegetables and fruits from India as it seems to be the need of the hour to bail out consumers here.
He said that importing vegetables from Iran through the border of Taftan (Balochistan) is not feasible because the Iranian government has increased taxes on imports and exports of this country.
Tehreek-i-Istaqlal President Rehmat Khan Wardag also voiced his demand to open trade with India for the benefit of Pakistanis.
“The government should use all avenues to bail out consumers as the price of tomatoes and onions has already surpassed Rs 400/kg. The shortest possible supply of vegetables and fruits is only from neighboring countries. neighbors like India,” the veteran politician said in a statement. on Thursday.
He added: “Since the government has decided to open the border of Iran and Afghanistan, they should also allow the opening of the Wagah border to import kitchen items from India to reduce the price of vegetables immediately.
Finance Minister Ismail said on Wednesday that more than one international agency had approached the government to allow it to bring food items from India across Wagah’s land border.
“The government will make a decision on whether to allow imports based on supply shortages, in consultation with coalition partners and key stakeholders,” he said.
The nine-party coalition government is currently looking at all options, including allowing the import of vegetables from India, to ease the suffering of millions of people affected by the floods.
Pakistan has allowed the trade of pharmaceuticals and surgical instruments with India.
Relations between India and Pakistan are often strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
However, the relationship between the two countries deteriorated after India repealed Article 370 of the Constitution, revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two Union Territories on May 5. August 2019.
India’s decision provoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic relations and expelled the Indian envoy. Trade relations between Pakistan and India have largely been frozen since then.

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