The federal cabinet on Thursday put off allowing imports of cotton and sugar from India until the neighbouring country reviews its 2019 move to revoke the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). “The federal cabinet has not approved the recommendation of ECC regarding import of sugar and cotton from India,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain told a press conference after the cabinet meeting. “Projecting ECC recommendation as decision of the government by some sections of media is not the right thing,” he said, adding that the federal government has not granted approval of any trade activity with India. Fawad said Pakistan has a very clear position that normalisation of trade relations with India is not possible unless India revisits its August 5, 2019, actions in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and withdraw illegal occupation of the valley. He said that even though Pakistan-India relations can be a game-changer for the region and bring economic prosperity but ‘this progress cannot be achieved on the cost of people of Kashmir’. “If India commits a massacre against Muslims and refuses to give Kashmiri people their due right, Pakistan cannot have normal diplomatic relations with India,” he said. “We want to have good relations with India and move forward with our economy, but India should first revoke its August 5, 2019, move,” he added. The minister noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his reply to a letter written by Narendra Modi, while talking about peace had also asked India to move toward resolving the Kashmir issue. “So the stated position of Government of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan is that the key to peace in South Asia lies in the resolution of the Kashmir issue. And if you (India) want peace, you will have to resolve the Kashmir issue, and in this regard, the first step will be that you revert to the position of August 5,” he said. “If India reverses its actions, new avenues of cooperation between Pakistan and India can open up, and such a relationship could prove to be a gamechanger for the region,” he added. Newly appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar had made the decision to restore trade ties with India public on Wednesday, stating that the government has decided to allow commercial import of sugar and cotton from the neighbouring country. Speaking on the Covid-19 vaccination front, Fawad said that 98% of the population would be inoculated for free, however, the two percent who do not wish to stand in queues could pay and get themselves vaccinated from private hospitals. Regarding the Broadsheet Commission inquiry report, the minister said the records of Swiss accounts were lost due to the criminal negligence of the then chairman NAB and other officials. The commission has recommended to fix the criminal liabilities on the then NAB officials in this regard, he said, adding that the Broadsheet Commission has recovered the original record of Swiss accounts and the case of Swiss accounts against Asif Ali Zardari may be reopened soon. The minister informed that the cabinet has directed to take action against Sugar mafia. The cabinet has also reviewed petroleum crisis and decided to take actions against those companies who failed to keep the stock of 20 days. The minister said that the decision had been taken to ensure provision of facility of Health Cards to the citizens of Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The new prices of 43 medicines had been identified during the meeting with no increase, he added. About improving the performance of bureaucracy and making delivery mechanism more effective, Prime Minister, Imran Khan has directed the cabinet to look into their respective ministries and departments and expel those officers who are not delivering their jobs efficiently. He said the prime minister has appreciated the locally manufactured Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) of Ministry of Science and Technology and asked the cabinet to ensure participating of overseas Pakistanis in the election process and expediting the efforts to shift election process on EVM. “We invite opposition parties to develop consensus on using EVM in election to bring transparency and end disputes,” he said. During the briefing regarding appointments of heads of different government departments, it was informed that 94 vacant posts existed till March 29, 2021. The prime minister expressed his concern over delay in appointments and has asked the ministers and secretaries to explain the reasons of the vacant posts, he added.