The PM’s blunder

One step forward, two steps back

Prime Minister Imran Khan has not only taken U-turns several times in the past but also called them a sign of leadership. The U-turn on trade with India however raises disturbing questions. One day the PM in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of Commerce and Textile approves the summaries for import of cotton, cotton yarn and sugar. Within days he takes a U-turn in the cabinet meeting declaring that there could be no trade with India until New Delhi reinstates Article 370 of its Constitution which guaranteed a semi-autonomous status for Indian-occupied Kashmir.

After being in power for nearly three years, Mr Khan is expected to be in full knowledge of the views of important stakeholders around him. Unless he is well informed, he cannot act as a guiding force in the formulation of the country’s vital policies. In matters related to India Mr Khan is supposed to have received inputs from a number of ministries that include foreign, interior, finance and defence. It appears now that Mr Khan approved the summaries related to trade with India without consulting the concerned quarters or even the cabinet ministers holding key portfolios. Only weeks before, speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, the PM had stressed the need for good relations with states and regional neighbours being paramount for national security, while simultaneously calling upon India to give the people of occupied Kashmir their right to self-determination in line with the UNSC resolutions. What made him then to take the decision to urgently open trade with India? Was he under the influence of some of the lobbies that try to influence every government when he put his signatures on the summaries?

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The summaries for imports should not have been signed if the PM was not able to get the decision implemented. It was better to keep an ambivalent posture than preconditioning trade with nothing less than reinstatement of Article 370, which would reduce Pakistan’s space to seek a diplomatic solution of the Kashmir issue. What is more, it would send a negative message abroad about the credibility of the PM.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]



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