Pakistan sees no room for trade revival with Modi’s India – POLITICO Europe

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There’s no scope to do anything with ‘belligerent’ New Delhi, says foreign affairs chief.
Pakistan would welcome a trade revival with India, but State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said she saw no prospect of that because of frosty relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Pakistan is enduring a brutal economic crisis and would benefit from improved trade links as the current cross-border flows are barely a trickle. Indian media cited Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel saying that India-Pakistan trade reached only $1.35 billion between April and December 2022, compared with some $87 billion with China.
Khar said she was a proponent of trade as a means of restoring ties but cautioned it was impossible to work with a Hindu nationalist administration in New Delhi whose support was “based on dividing India between Hindus and Muslims.”
“I don’t think there’s any scope to do anything with a very belligerent [government],” Khar said in an interview with POLITICO, when asked about a reset on trade. “The particular party and the particular people who are in power now feel it is in their interest not to solve the problem, but to stoke the problem.”
In recent months, the toxic rhetoric has ramped up sharply. Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called Modi “the butcher of Gujarat” in reference to sectarian riots in 2002 which killed more than 1,000 people while he was governor of the state, after Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar dubbed Pakistan the “epicenter of terrorism.”
Still, Khar said Islamabad was willing to reopen dialogue if India changed its tune.
“Tomorrow if they decide to be statesmanlike and [seek] a legacy of peace, they will find in Pakistan not only an avid partner but an overenthusiastic one,” she said.
India, by contrast, says Pakistan has to take the first steps and rein in links to terror groups. Jaishankar said in December: “My advice is: Please clean up your act, please try to be a good neighbor.”
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