Notwithstanding its own dismal economic status, Pakistan has promised Malaysia of increasing its import for palm oil following the curbs enforced by India in the wake of Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad’s unsavoury remarks on India’s action in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistani PM Imran Khan is on a 3-day visit to Malaysia, reportedly to placate the country’s leadership after he skipped a major summit of Muslim nations in Kuala Lumpur. When questioned if would increase the purchase of palm oil following the ban from India, Khan said, “Malaysia has supported Pakistan on Kashmir. India has threatened Malaysia and stopped the palm oil purchase. We would definitely increase the palm oil imports so that Malaysia is minimally damaged.”
Khan was to attend the Muslim summit organised by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. But due to the pressure allegedly exerted by Saudi Arabia, which has liberally extended financial bailouts for cash-strapped Pakistan, Khan chose to skip the summit.
The world’s largest buyer of the edible oil, India, effectively curbed imports from its largest supplier and the world’s second-largest producer following Malaysian PM Mahathir’s remarks against India regarding its internal policies pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir and the CAA.
In his address to the 74th UNGA, Mahathir had accused India of “invading and occupying” Jammu and Kashmir. This was after India abrogated Article 370, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its separate status and subsequently bifurcating the state into two union territories- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The promise made by Pakistan PM Imran Khan to make reparations for India’s palm oil curbs on Malaysia comes at a time when his country, Pakistan is reeling under an unprecedented economic crisis. According to the World Bank report published in 2019, countries in South Asia are set on a growth trajectory except for Pakistan, whose growth it is set to drop at 2.7% in the FY19-20.
Pakistan is in desperate straits as economists’ predict its economy is on the brink of collapse. The ‘Trade and Development Report 2019’ released by the United Nations also said that Pakistan’s economic crisis has not been resolved despite the fact that support from China and Saudi Arabia and a large IMF loan have helped address the immediate problem. The report made a terse commentary stating “Pakistan is in a midst of crisis”, as the growth rate has halved, the balance of payments is in bad shape, the rupee has depreciated significantly and the external debt is large and swelling.