The Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday rebutted reports that there had been a change to Pakistan’s trade policy with India following the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government.
Earlier this week, Indian media had reported on the appointment of a new Pakistani trade officer to India, claiming this reflected a change in the country’s policy toward its rival. “There is no change in Pakistan’s policy on trade with India,” rebutted the commerce ministry in a statement. It said that the ministry managed 57 trade missions in 46 countries, including the post of minister for trade and investment in New Delhi, India. This post, it said, had existed for over two decades and was not linked to any trade ties between Islamabad and Delhi.
According to the statement, the previous government had initiated the process to appoint new trade and investment officers, including in New Delhi, in December 2021. The final recommendations of the interview board for the posts were sent to the Prime Minister’s Office on April 1, 2022, it said, stressing that this had all been done prior to the new coalition government coming into power.
The incumbent government, per the commerce ministry, had merely given final approval to the recommendations of the previous government for the selection of 15 trade and investment officers.
Pakistan’s trade ties with India have been at negligible levels since 2019, when Delhi unilaterally abrogated the special constitutional status of India-held Jammu and Kashmir. In the three years since, several government officials have expressed a desire to resume trade with India but have always stressed that this was not possible until India reversed the steps of Aug. 5, 2019.
A report published on daily Dawn cited a source in the commerce ministry as claiming that the posting of a trade officer in New Delhi was largely irrelevant, as India had refused to grant visas to his two immediate predecessors. The source claimed that the new official would also likely be denied a visas and would not even proceed to India to commence any work.