KARACHI: India’s move to revoke Articles 370 and 35A of its Constitution on August 5, 2019, rescinding occupied Kashmir’s special status, destroyed its economy, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Monday.
Addressing an event at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) here in the city, Qureshi claimed that India’s economic challenges have increased substantially following revocation of Kashmir’s special status.
“Actions in occupied Kashmir have resulted in losses amounting to Rs2 billion for India,” the foreign minister claimed, adding that some 400,000 people had become unemployed in the Muslim-majority region in the past six months.
On August 5 last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Articles 370 and 35A — which had allowed Kashmir to have its own flag, a separate constitution, and the freedom to make laws.
The minister once again warned the business community that the government fears that the Indian government may carry out an attack similar to Pulwama to divert the attention from the internal problems it faces.
He claimed that the ruling Bhartaiya Janta Party (BJP) faced election defeat in three states of India.
FO summons Indian chargé d’affaires
The Foreign Office summoned the Indian Chargé d’Affaires to protest against the ceasefire violations by Indian Border Security Forces at the Line of Control (LoC), a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the Indian envoy was told that ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) were counterproductive to peace and stability in the region. The Indian Chargé d’Affaires was also told that India’s attempts to shift the focus away from its atrocities in occupied Kashmir will fail.
Government focused on economic diplomacy
Earlier in the day, Qureshi said on Twitter he “engaged with the @FPCCI1 in Karachi for an open and candid session” as part of his “economic diplomacy initiative”.
“I look forward to working closely together with Pakistan’s top companies to further our economic diplomacy offensive,” he added.
Qureshi told the business community that the government wishes to help them through economic diplomacy. While assuring them that they will review how they can help the businessmen in the future.
“Pakistani missions will have to increase their contact with the country’s business community,” Qureshi noted, telling the business fraternity that the doors of his ministry were open and traders should approach it to develop partnerships.
Qureshi also explained to the businesspersons the situation of the economy when the PTI came to power. The foreign minister told the business community that one could look at what the economic indicators were one-and-a-half year ago to see how the economy was functioning at that time.
The foreign minister shared that the government paid $10 billion in debt servicing. He also stated that the interest rate in the country needs to decrease. Qureshi said that the country was going bankrupt once the PTI came to power.
“We took billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE through diplomacy,” he said. The foreign minister added that the government stopped the “economic explosion” that was about to happen before the country went to the International Monetary Fund.
He noted that even today the country’s imports exceeded its exports, adding that if the country had gone bankrupt then the rupee would have depreciated further.
Focus on Africa
“Traders are the engine of development,” Qureshi said. He said Pakistan’s trade only stood at $1.5 billion in Africa. He said this was why Pakistan held its first trade and economic conference in Kenya last month.
The foreign minister had gone to Kenya last month and held the inaugural Pak-Africa Trade Development Conference.
Qureshi informed businesspersons that in Africa there was a huge market for the engineering sector.
Qatar to help boost foreign reserves
Qureshi also revealed that Qatar may send additional financial support to help increase Pakistan’s exchange reserves. However, he did not elaborate on the statement.
The foreign minister also revealed that Islamabad is also planning to sign an agreement with Doha for employment opportunities for Pakistan.
Last year in June, Qatar’s foreign ministry had announced that the country would be making $3 billion worth of new investments in Pakistan, in the form of deposits and direct investments.
“Upon the directives of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani announced new investments in the form of deposits and direct investments in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan worth a total of $3 billion,” the ministry had said in a press release.