Federal Minister for Trade and Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan informed the Senate on Friday that the option of curtailing trade with India as a retaliatory measure to multiple cease-fire violations along Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary by Indian forces is not in Pakistan’s interests in present circumstances.
While responding to a calling attention notice by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Khurram Dastgir Khan explained that Pakistan-India trade stands at US $2.083 billion, which is India’s 0.4 per cent of total global trade volume, whereas Pakistan’s chunk with regard to its international trade is 14.5 per cent of total trade with India.
The minister pointed out that reduction in trade volume with New Delhi would have a minimal impact on its overall economy but it would be significant for Islamabad and added that several industries here rely on raw material imported from across the border.
He contended that the option of cutting trade with India as a retaliatory move vis-à-vis its frequent acts of aggression across LoC will not serve any purpose.
Amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan, he said media had reported that Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi would chair a meeting to consider limiting trade with Pakistan but no such meeting took place then.
A top-level meeting, he added, was held in Islamabad to review all options, including the use of reduction in trade as a retaliatory tool and it came out that in the given scene, limiting trade with India would not be in Pakistan’s interest.
On their part, the minister noted, the armed forces are strongly, promptly and effectively retaliating to shelling and firing from Indian side across the LoC.
In his notice, the PPP senator had lamented that for so many days, India is resorting to aggression but the incumbent government has hardly any taken any retaliatory measure and asked if the tool of trade could not be used against India.
Earlier, during the question hour, Dastgir said that despite having Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status from India, there are so many non-tariff trade barriers in the way of Pakistan’s trade with India.
Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry told the House that the PC-I of Chirah Dam, a joint project of the federal and Punjab governments, is being reviewed, whereas the project originally was to be completed in 2014.
He agreed with Senators Tahir Hussain Mashhaid of MQM, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan of PML-N and PPP’s Taj Haider that the proposed dam was crucial to meet increasing water need of Rawalpindi and Islamabad but said the inordinate delay was due to non-acquisition of land by the Small Dams Organisation, Punjab.
On the senators’ demand, Senator Mohsin Leghari, who conducted the question hour, referred the matter of the dam and the cause of its delay to the House standing committee concerned. The minister said that the cost of the proposed dam will be borne by Islamabad and the Small Dams Organisation at 50:50 ratio and its water will be shared in the same way.
Tariq Fazal said that an amount of Rs 851.834 million had been transferred to Small Dams Organisation against PSDP allocation made till 2013-14 by the CDA. The cost of land has been increased owing to abnormal increase in land prices.
The House was surprised to know from PPP Senator Mandivwalla that his driver has two special children who are not being entertained by any special education centre or institution, working in Islamabad and he is in great distress.
Tariq Fazal promised to look into the matter while giving details of activities of ten such entities working under the Directorate General of Special Education. In response to Senator Tahir Mashhadi, Tariq Fazal said that the posts of liver transplant surgeon, hepatologist, anaesthetist and intensive care specialist in PIMS Islamabad are vacant for which multiple advertisements were given in media but these are yet to be filled. He said that the Liver Transplant Centre, PIMS, would be functional only after the filling of these posts.