Trade with Pakistan cannot go hand in hand with terrorism in India

Trade with Pakistan cannot go hand in hand with terrorism in India

After stating in his first address to the nation that durable peace was not possible till the Kashmir issue was resolved, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has indicated that he is a votary of the resumption of bilateral trade with India.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has signaled that he supports the restart of bilateral trade with India, while stressing in his first address to the country that lasting peace could not be achieved until the Kashmir problem was settled. "We are mindful of the economic gains that may be garnered from good trade activity with India," Sharif said in an interview with a Turkish news agency, adding that it is part of Islamabad's shift from geo-strategy to geo-economics. At the same time, since taking office in April, Sharif has spoken about Kashmir and requested the restoration of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir more than five times.

PM Sharif's desire to resume bilateral trade with India without giving up either the claim to Jammu and Kashmir or uprooting India-specific terrorist groups in Pakistan is similar to China's desire to increase bilateral trade with India without easing military pressure all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and delaying the restoration of the status quo on patrolling point 15 on the Kugrang River in the Hot Springs sector of East Ladakh until April 2020.

While India has taken note of PM Sharif's interview, it also recognizes Pakistan's economic and political difficulties, as well as how enhanced bilateral commerce may aid Islamabad's economic recovery, given India's strong thirst for Pakistani imports. However, Pakistan's current political turmoil, with ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi and exiled leader Nawaz Sharif pressuring the Sharif government for an early general election while the Pakistan Army remains a neutral observer, will stifle any Indian retaliation.

Indian policy is to maintain ties with Pakistan until Pakistan acts against terrorist groups like Jaish and Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT), which continue to wage Islamic jihad against Kashmir Valley minorities in pursuit of Islamabad's political ambitions. In spite of the fact that Islamabad has told the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that it cannot locate Jaish terror kingpin Masood Azhar, the recent court action against LeT's chief Hafeez Saeed is part of the effort to get Pakistan off the Grey List at the Paris Plenary this month. India cannot engage in trade with Pakistan while supporting terrorism.

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