ISLAMABAD: Laying to rest speculation about the import of vegetables and food items from India, the Foreign Office on Thursday categorically said the government was not considering any imports from the neighbouring country.

“We are in touch with countries in the broader neighborhood to facilitate import of those commodities as early as possible. And as regards India currently there is no such thing under consideration,” FO spokesman Asim Iftikhar said at the weekly media briefing.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had, earlier in the week, hinted at the possibility of importing vegetables from India to meet the shortage created by catastrophic floods in the country because of which their prices had increased exorbitantly.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, later in an interaction with international media, pointed towards the issues in ties, particularly the rights situation in India-held Kashmir, which needed to be addressed first.

Mr Ismail afterwards again suggested that the issue was still on the table. “The govt will take the decision to allow imports or not based on supply shortage position, after consulting its coalition partners and key stakeholders,” he said.

The finance minister further said: “More than one international agency has approached the govt to allow them to bring food items from India through the land border.”

Mr Iftikhar, responding to a question about Pakistan not engaging in trade but playing cricket with India, said: “As regards playing cricket with India, you would recall that it was India that was refusing to play bilateral series or whatever. Pakistan has always been open and was of the view that sport should not be mixed with other issues,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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