With regards to the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision to import certain commodities from India, Prime Minister Imran Khan held detailed consultations with the key cabinet members on Friday and decided that Pakistan cannot resume trade with India ‘under the current circumstances’. Pakistan has constantly stated that any forward movement requires India to create an enabling environment by revisiting its unilateral and illegal measures of 5th August 2019. The sources said that the prime minister has instructed the ministry of commerce and his economic team to immediately take steps to facilitate the relevant sectors, value added, apparel and sugar, by finding alternative cheapest sources of import of the needed commodities. As per the government sources, various proposals are presented before the ECC which considers these suggestions from economic and commercial point of view. After consideration by ECC, the decisions are presented to the cabinet for ratification and final approval. The source said that in this case, a proposal was presented to the ECC to allow import of cotton, cotton yarn and sugar keeping in view domestic requirements. The ECC decided on commercial grounds to recommend import for the cabinet’s consideration. While this decision was not on the formal agenda of the cabinet meeting, the issue was brought up by cabinet members and the prime minister instructed that ECC’s decision be deferred and immediately reviewed. Speaking to a private TV channel, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yousaf said the ECC had received the recommendation to import cotton and sugar from India as its prices were quite cheap in the neighbouring country. He said the ECC forwards its recommendations to the cabinet for approval, in every decision. “The cabinet is the final forum [for decision-making],” said Yousaf. The prime minister’s aide said the federal cabinet makes decisions keeping in mind their political repercussions. He added the prime minister has asked the ECC to postpone this matter. “The prime minister said categorically in the meeting that no trade will be and cannot be conducted with India till it does not review its unconstitutional August 5 move,” said Yousaf. The Foreign Office said on Friday there was no change in Pakistan’s stance on the longstanding Kashmir dispute amid controversy over the government’s indecision whether to allow import of sugar and cotton from India. At a weekly news briefing, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri said he had nothing to offer other than what Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had already stated on the subject. After the federal cabinet meeting on Thursday, Foreign Minister Qureshi released a video statement stating that the government deferred the decision to import sugar and cotton from India. He added that there was consensus in the cabinet that normalisation of relationship could only take place if India reviewed its decision of August 5, 2019. New Delhi on August 5, 2019, had revoked the semi-autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), triggering one of the worst phases of tensions with Pakistan. In reaction to the India’s unilateral move, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade with India. But the issue of trade came to surface this week when the ECC approved a summary of the ministry of commerce, seeking the import of sugar and cotton from India. The move immediately triggered a strong reaction from opposition particularly from PML-N, which questioned how government could resume trade with India without first getting the special status of IIOJK restored. The issue came up for approval in the cabinet, which deferred the decision after at least four cabinet members including foreign minister, planning minister, human rights minister and railways minister opposed the ECC suggestion.