Hectic parleys are on to get Pakistan to resume onion export to India through the land route via Wagah border. Islamabad, however, is blowing hot and cold and has apparently showed disappointment over India being slow in fulfilling the commitment made on exporting cotton to that country.
Following instructions from external affairs minister SM Krishna, Indian high commission officials are continuing talks with Pakistan authorities to sort out the onion issue.
“We have initiated talks and are hopeful that we will find a solution to this problem. This way we would be able to sort out the problem caused by onion shortage in the country,” SM Krishna said on Friday.
While preferring the land route, India has also requested Pakistan to look into options of onion export in bulk through rail and sea routes.
If the supplies have to be diverted from Wagah border for arrival through ship routes, it would take more days to reach India. Also, the prices of transportation will go up affecting government’s plans to control onion prices.
Pakistan imposed a ban on export of onions through the land route on Thursday after 300 India-bound trucks loaded with about 3,000 tonnes of the commodity had reached the Wagah border near Amritsar.
Meanwhile, a report from Lahore said that Pakistani traders have expressed disappointment over the decision of their government to put these restrictions.
“Such decisions hamper trade between the two countries and cause wastage of perishable goods. This is in the interest of neither the government nor traders and consumers,” said Iftikhar Ali Malik, vice-president of the Saarc Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Pakistan farmers gain between $500 to 600 per metric tonnes from exporting onion to India. Before the ban, several Pakistani traders had bagged major orders from India.