New Delhi: The contrast could not have been starker: A day after Pakistan allowed import of life-saving medicines from India to provide relief to its patients, Islamabad claimed on Wednesdy that Jammu and Kashmir lacked medicines and healthcare facilities after lockdown in the wake of revocation of the border state’s “special status” a month ago.
Pakistan had accused India of “unilaterally” altering the status quo of J&K by abrogating the Articles 30 and 35-A of the Constitution of India, and then unilaterally stopped all trade and business with New Delhi. On Tuesday, however, Islamabad meekly allowed import of Indian medicines to tone up its own deteriorating healthcare sector.
In their conversations with Saudi Arabian, Iranian and Bangladeshi authorities on Tuesday, both Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed that patients in J&K were suffering due to the alleged collapse of health facilities and lack of medicines.
In a U-turn on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce issued Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) to allow import and export of medicines to and from India. Earlier, its officials had claimed that Pakistan would import medicines and vaccines from China after suspending trade with India. “However, the government has now decided to revive import of medicines from the neighbouring country.”
Why Pakistan suddenly decided not to import medicines and vaccines from China was not explained, but it could be due to higher costs involved, which a broke Islamabad cannot afford.
According to media reports from Pakistan, its National Security Council had decided to suspend bilateral trade with India after New Delhi repealed Article 370. On August 9, the Ministry suspended trade ties with India and also banned all kinds of imports and exports. Pakistan’s exports to India stood at $263 million in the last financial year and imports from India were to the tune of $1.499 billion in 2018-19.
India had imposed 200 per cent duty on imports from Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack, besides withdrawing the Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status. Imports from India declined by over 36 per cent from February to June.