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Pakistani Authorities ‘Stop’ Import of Cotton and other Indian Agricultural Commodities

Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order

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FILE -(representational image) Pakistani villagers living at the Line of Control between Pakistan-Indian Kashmir, Chakoti, build concrete house in Pakistan, Nov. 21, 2016. VOA

Islamabad, Nov 26, 2016: Pakistani authorities “halted” the import of cotton and other agricultural commodities, including vegetables, from India via the Wagah border, it was reported on Saturday.

Am official from the Department of Plant Protection has said the move came due to escalating tensions between the two countries after Indian troops allegedly targeted a passenger bus and an ambulance near the Line of Control (LoC) and killed “three Pakistani soldiers and 10 civilians” on Wednesday, Dawn reported.

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Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order citing increase in tensions across the LoC.

Sahabzada Imran Shami, director general of the DPP, a subordinate department of the national food security and research ministry, however, sought to dispel the impression.

“We have stopped import of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables in order to protect our farmers. We have enough tomato and other vegetables stocks, which we import from India only in case of shortages in the domestic market,” he told Dawn.

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The reason behind the “suspension” of cotton imports from India was, nevertheless, different. “No. We have not stopped cotton imports from India. It has just been halted over reports that the Indian exporters are not meeting our bio-security conditions,” Sahabzada Shami contended.

“We’re looking into these reports and will lift restriction on cotton imports if our apprehensions are proved wrong.”

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He said the suspension of cotton import from India would create a huge problem for the textile exporters as the truncated domestic crop target of 11.25 million bales for this year appeared difficult if not impossible to meet.

“The industry requires 14 mn bales. We will still be short by three million bales of cotton even if the crop target is achieved.

“The cotton shortages after ban on Indian imports,” he said, “would lead domestic prices to jack up at the expense of exports.” (IANS)

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Pakistan, India to Allow Sikh Pilgrims Visa-Free Access to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off

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sikh pilgrimages, holiest temple in pakistan, gurudwara darbar sahib
FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, Indian Sikh pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

Pakistan and India have agreed to “expeditiously” work out issues related to a new border crossing that would allow Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to one of their holiest temples in Pakistan.

High-level delegations from the two nuclear-armed rival countries met Sunday on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border checkpoint to discuss what is named the “Kartarpur Corridor.”   The number and safety of pilgrims as well as infrastructure were among the issues on the agenda.

The temple, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, is one of the holiest sites in Sikhism and it is believed to have been built on the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, who died in the 16th Century.

The chief of the Pakistani delegation told a post-meeting news conference that both sides have resolved most of the issues and another meeting would be required before a final agreement is reached.

gurudwara darbar sahib, sikh pilgrimages
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal, center, briefs the media before the meeting with Indian officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, July 14, 2019.

“We had in-depth and productive discussions on the proposed draft agreement and agreed to expeditiously finalize the modalities for operationalizing the Kartarpur Corridor in time for the 550 the anniversary celebrations,” Mohammad Faisal said.

India and Pakistan are aiming to make the corridor operational by November, ahead of the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

India’s Sikh minority community has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur. Currently, pilgrims must must first secure visas, travel to the eastern city of Lahore or other major Pakistani destinations before driving to Kartarpur. Political tensions between India and Pakistan often make it difficult for citizens of both the countries to secure timely visas.

sikh pilgrimages, gurudwara darbar sahib
Indian officials from Ministry for External Affairs arrive after crossing the border for a meeting with Pakistani officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, July 14, 2019. VOA

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off.

The progress toward opening the new border crossing later this year marks a rare instance of cooperation between the two countries, which have fought three wars against each other and came close to a fourth one in February this year.

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Most of the conflicts stemmed from the divided Kashmir region, claimed by both sides in its entirety, and it continues to be the primary source of regional tensions. (VOA)