‘Genocide’ in Kashmir behind stoppage of trade with India, says Pakistan

An armed forces personnel stands deployed in Srinagar amid restrictions. [FPK File Photo/ Zainab]

Following the unprecedented floods that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and displacing of 33 million people in Pakistan and the country’s Finance Minister’s comment to consider imports from India, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shebaz Sharif ruled out the possibility and called India’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir ‘genocide’.

Earlier on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Modi expressed sadness at the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and extended condolences to those affected by the natural calamity, raising hopes for possible cooperation between the two countries.

A day after Modi’s message, Sharif briefed reporters in Islamabad on possible food imports and resumption of trade with India and said, “There won’t have been problems about trading with India but genocide is going on there and Kashmiris have been denied their rights,” Sharif said, as per Hindustan Times report.

Sharif, while referring to India’s 2019 decision to scrap the special status of JK and to split the region into two Union territories- JK and Ladakh, said, “Kashmir has been forcibly annexed through abolition of Article 370”.

Quoting the Pakistan PM further, the report said, “I am, however, ready to sit and talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We cannot afford war. We will have to dedicate our meagre resources for alleviating poverty in our respective countries, but we cannot live in peace without resolving these issues.” Sharif said.

“We shouldn’t be doing politics at this point, but it is a fact that minority rights are being subjugated in India… We want peace in the region. We are neighbours not by choice,” the report quoted Sharif further saying. Sharif also emphasised that peace can “come only through sensible actions”.

On Monday, Pakistan’s finance minister Miftah Ismail told a media interaction that his country could consider importing vegetables and other food items from India to help people cope with the widespread destruction of crops in flash floods. “If the supply is affected, the import of vegetables will have to be opened. If we have to import vegetables from India, we will do so,” Ismail was quoted as saying.

In August 2019, Pakistan suspended all trade with India as part of retaliatory measures against New Delhi’s decision to scrap the special status of JK. Pakistan also downgraded diplomatic ties with India and expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad.

Tens of millions of people across swathes of Pakistan are battling the worst monsoon floods in a decade, with countless homes washed away, vital farmland destroyed, and the country´s main river threatening to burst its banks.

Climate Change Minister of Pakistan Sherry Rehman also briefed the media that a third of the country was under water, creating a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”.

Pakistan media quoting officials earlier reported that 1,136 people have died since June when the seasonal rains began, but the final toll could be higher as hundreds of villages in the mountainous north have been cut off after flood-swollen rivers washed away roads and bridges.

This year’s flooding has affected more than 33 million people- one in seven Pakistanis- said the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan.

This year’s floods are comparable to those of 2010- the worst on record- when more than 2,000 people died in the country.

Flood victims have taken refuge in makeshift camps that have sprung up across the country, where desperation is setting in.


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