The persistence of the issue of Kashmir has impacted trade with India. One trade item that is particularly impacting the masses in Pakistan is the import of Indian medicines. Indian pharmaceutical industry provides cost-effective medicines for several life-threatening diseases. Since the Pakistani market was provided no alternative by the government, the masses are running short on medicines for such diseases. The only plausible solution, in this case, is to lift the ban on imported Indian medicines, while maintaining the remaining ban on trade with the country.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza confirmed that the exemption is given in the best interest of the public and in order to maintain the supply of medicines to patients. If the government did not take this initiative, as affirmed by the pharmaceutical industry, the country could face a severe shortage of medicines which the masses cannot afford. Our pharmaceutical industry is completely dependent on Indian medicines and raw materials, and before a thoroughly planned alternative is found, the country cannot risk running out of medicines. At the same time, sustaining the ban on medicines would increase the ratio of smuggled medicines in the country and the national exchequer would then have to bear the losses of such dealings.

Even in times of war, populations are provided humanitarian reliefs and this decision by the government falls under the same category. Politican clashes between nations should not rob off their populations of their basic rights. The Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP) has also suggested that APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) imported from India to manufacture life-saving products by the local industry should be allowed on the condition that pharmaceutical companies would develop alternative sources of APIs within a period agreed upon with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap).

This is an effective alternative to the current situation. The local market should also be pushed towards independence as political rifts tend to affect business and that in turn affects the daily lives of the population. At the same time, this is also a lesson for the current regime that all political measures taken by them should be holistic in nature so that they do not disturb the common man.