Modi Govt Mulls Trade Curbs on Malaysia for Criticism over J&K, CAA

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Malaysian counterpart Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, on the sidelines of 5th Eastern Economic Forum, at Vladivostok, in Russia, Thursday, Sept 5, 2019.

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Irked by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s critical comments on the Kashmir lockdown and the controversial Citizenship Act (CAA), the Narendra Modi government is considering imposition of trade curbs on Malaysia. The step, which India rarely resorts to, would likely hurt India’s already crippling economy and also the Indians living in Malaysia.

According to The Times of India, India may impose formal checks on shipment of palm oil and electronic goods from Malaysia. “We are looking at imposing some curbs on refined and crude palm oil as well as electronics items. Various ministries are involved in the exercise,” a government source was quoted by the daily as saying. This is perhaps the first time India will resort to an act of trade curbs against a partner country.

Political leaders like Qasim Rasool Ilyas feel that if the Narendra Modi government takes such a step, the Malaysian government will retaliate. “Such a trade war will further weaken our slowing economy.”

“The trade curbs will not yield any benefit but harm. Any such move is not one-sided but bilateral. If you impose restrictions, they will do it too. Our economy is already passing through a bad patch. Fuel prices are increasing due to the US-Iran conflict. This will further damage the Indian economy,” said Ilyas, the national president of the Welfare Party.

He said such a government step will put Indians, living in large numbers in Malaysia, in danger. He asked the government as to how many countries it would thus impose sanctions. “There are many nations as also the United Nations that have expressed their concern over the discriminatory CAA and the Kashmir lockdown. Why is the government targeting only Malaysia,” he asked, and urged the government to withdraw the CAA, “which is damaging India’s reputation across the globe,” he asked.

Recently, speaking on the sidelines of the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, Mahathir had questioned the “necessity” of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) when Indians have “lived together for 70 years.” He asked: “People are dying because of this law. Why is there a necessity to do this when all the while, for 70 years, (Indians) have lived together as citizens without any problem?”

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