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New Delhi: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has urged the Centre to consider establishing economic ties with Pakistan, despite the diplomatic deep-freeze in bilateral relations.

“Despite the lack of progress on the diplomatic front, the Committee urges the government to consider the establishment of economic ties with Pakistan if they come forward and work towards broader people-to-people contacts in view of the cultural commonalities and civilizational linkages between our two countries and no feeling of enmity amongst citizens of both the countries,” the standing committee said in its report, tabled on Tuesday, on India’s “Neighbourhood First” Policy.

In 2019, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 and revoked special status for Jammu and Kashmir. Despite this bilateral trade has continued with an estimated $1.35 billion volume in April-December 2022. In 2021, that figure stood at $516 million.

“Main items of export from India to Pakistan are: cotton, organic chemicals, food products including prepared animal fodder, edible vegetables, plastic articles, man-made filament, coffee, tea, spices, dyes, oil seeds, dairy products, pharmaceuticals etc. Main items of import by India from Pakistan are: copper and copper articles, edible fruits and nuts, cotton, salt, sulphur and earths and stones, organic chemicals, mineral fuels, plastic products, wool, glassware, raw hides & skin etc,” as per information on the website of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

However, the standing committee also noted that terrorism remains a major impediment to the restoration of normal bilateral ties.

“The Committee observe that unlike India’s relationship with other countries in the neighbourhood, bilateral relations with Pakistan and China has been plagued by contentious issues. One of the core concerns with Pakistan is terrorism emanating from territories under its control. The Ministry has stated that the onus is on Pakistan to ensure a conducive atmosphere for any meaningful dialogue,” the report said.

“In view of the belligerent attitude of Pakistan, the committee desires that the government should continue to proactively engage with the regional and multilateral bodies/organizations extensively so as to sensitize them of the role played by Pakistan in fostering terrorism and win their support in the fight against terrorism on its soil,” the report added.

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Updated: 26 Jul 2023, 04:46 PM IST

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