Pakistan’s Sugar and Cotton Talk Was Just to Test Domestic Sentiments on India
Very recently, optics and soundbites emanating from the twin-cities of Islamabad (political capital) and Rawalpindi (Military GHQ) seemed to be making reconciliatory comments (albeit, suffixed with ‘Kashmir’) to suggest a joint-interest in normalising relations with India, post the 5th Aug 2019 revocation of Article 370, which led to the formal freeze.
Nearly two years since—the socio-economic condition of Pakistan worsening to unprecedented lows with the crippling pandemic—peace with India and normalcy of trade could only bring the much needed succour to the depleted coffers, which are running dangerously on ‘borrowed time’.
Importantly, the green signal was triggered by the Pakistani Chief General Bajwa’s, ‘bury the past and move forward’ nudge (with the mandatory ‘K’ reference), which was soon picked up and presented in the form of a trial balloon by Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), which comes directly under Imran Khan’s undistributed portfolio to propose allowing imports of sugar, cotton and yarn from India.
Ostensibly and procedurally the proposal was put to the Cabinet to ‘evaluate’ the merits, without committing to a decision. However, such a sensitive trial balloon could not have been issued without the direct acquiescence of the Prime Minister.
Imran Khan in a cavalier fashion dissed his own trial balloon by invoking the rote conditionality of ‘J&K’, which had received no traction within the ummah, let alone in the International Court of Justice, as initially threatened.