Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned, chamber of commerce member says. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 June 2019

Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

  • “I’m super happy with the development.”
  • Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association has expressed joy over the Saudi decision to lift the ban on imports of horticultural products from the south Indian state.

The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus in certain parts of Kerala in May last year forced the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to ban imports of horticultural products from the state. Most of the GCC members lifted the ban soon after, except for Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom “is a major market for exporters in Kerala. We send our products to Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah airports every day,” said P. E. Ashraf Ali of the association.

“I’d incurred huge losses due to the (Saudi) ban ... Now I hope to recover the loss,” Ali told Arab News. 

“I’m super happy with the development.”

He said he has been able to export 8-10 tons of horticultural products to Saudi Arabia since it resumed imports in late May.

Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day, out of which around 40 tons go to Saudi Arabia, said V. Venugopal of the Kerala-based Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

“The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned,” Venugopal added.  

The target this year is to increase exports to GCC countries to 200 tons daily, and if that happens, exports to Saudi Arabia will go up by 15-20 percent, he said.

An official at the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority — a body of the Indian government — told Arab News: “The ban was lifted after the satisfaction of the health ministries in both India and Saudi Arabia that the Nipah virus had been contained and there was no danger either to humans or plants from this virus anymore.”

The official said: “My understanding is that the Indian Health Ministry gave assurances to its Saudi counterpart that it will take fool-proof measures to stop the virus, and then the World Health Organization was also involved.”

He added: “It’s only after everyone was satisfied that there’s no danger from the Nipah virus anymore that Saudi Arabia agreed to lift the ban.”


India might resort to covert operations: Pakistan FM

Updated 45 min 6 sec ago

India might resort to covert operations: Pakistan FM

  • Qureshi praised the Security Council’s call to all parties to refrain from action that could aggravate the situation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned that India might resort to a “false flag operation” to divert attention from Jammu and Kashmir following a UN Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.

“To divert international attention, most probably India will resort to some false flag operation. We want to tell the international community that we have doubts about India’s intentions. We know their plans and the nation is ready for it,” he said.

In a letter to the Security Council on Aug. 13, Qureshi asked for an urgent meeting on Jammu and Kashmir after its special autonomous status was revoked by India. Indian-administered Kashmir has remained under lockdown, with phone and internet services suspended since the decision on Aug. 5.

Following the Security Council meeting Qureshi addressed a joint press conference with Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, who said that Islamabad was ready to “defend any misadventures on the part of India.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Office had formed a special committee to discuss future action on the issue, Qureshi said.

Kashmir desks will be established at various Pakistani embassies around the world “in order to carry out effective communication on the matter,” he said.

“The committee on Kashmir has members from all concerned parties, including members of opposition parties.” 

Qureshi praised the Security Council’s call to all parties to refrain from action that could aggravate the situation.

“We achieved a milestone yesterday, which shocked India. The Kashmir issue was raised at a platform which is responsible for resolving the dispute,” he said.

The foreign minister commended the “indomitable and unbroken spirit” of residents in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying that despite the curfew Kashmiris came out of their houses on Friday to offer special prayers.

“It was a glimpse into their emotions, into what it will be like after the curfew lifts,” he said.

Qureshi said that world bodies have responded positively to Pakistan’s call to discuss the issue. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called for an immediate end to the curfew,” he said.

Discussing India’s move to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, Qureshi said: “Pakistan does not recognize Article 370 of the Indian constitution, it is not our concern. Our concern is with the forceful change in Kashmir’s demographic and violation of the rights of the people of Kashmir.”

Meanwhile, Ghafoor said that the Pakistan army will respond to any act of aggression by India.

“Pakistan is a responsible state, but India has always threatened us. We are planning how to manage the threats from India,” he said.

“At present, the biggest issue in Jammu and Kashmir is human rights violations. The entire region has been turned into a prison,” Ghafoor said.

A former Pakistani ambassador to India, Abdul Basit, backed the foreign minister’s covert operation claim, saying that amid growing international pressure a staged terrorist attack by India could be used to divert attention from Jammu and Kashmir.

He said any direct attack on Pakistan by India would be a huge mistake. “They (India) might have worked out their strategies, but when the situation is so tense, it would not be wise to open another front. The situation will be clearer after the curfew is lifted, but I don’t see direct conflict anytime soon.”

Basit urged Pakistan to arrange an OIC foreign ministers summit in Islamabad as quickly as possible.

“Along with the summit, Pakistan should also hold a convention of Kashmiri diaspora in London or somewhere that can come up with a resolution. Pakistan should also deploy a special envoy on Kashmir,” he said.