No decision yet on resumption of Cross LOC trade

Though it is unlikely to resume the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade soon, but the authorities are working on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in the Kashmir valley and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on April 18 had suspended the cross-LoC trade in J&K, saying that it was being used for “funneling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”.

“As such there is no order to resume the LOC trade but yes work had started on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in the Kashmir valley and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu,” one of the top government officials told KNS.

He said if the trade resumed, the truck scanners will enable the customs department and other agencies to see what is being imported from the other side.

After suspending the LOC trade, the MHA had said that the issue will be “revisited” after a “stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism” that is being worked out is “put in place in consultation with various agencies”.

Cross-LoC traders and others associated with the trade are demanding the resumption of the business.

Traders has said that they support the government’s every move to put strict and transparent regulatory measure but suspension of trade that took a decade to establish itself is no answer.

“Over the past decade, cross-LoC trade has been our only source of income. Suspension of trade has affected our families. We request government to implement strict regulatory measures and continue trade simultaneously,” said one of the LOC trader.

In October 2008, as a confidence building measure, India and Pakistan agreed to carry out trade along the Line of Control through the Uri-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir and the Poonch-Rawalakot route in Jammu.

The two countries agreed on a Standard Operating Procedure.

The defining feature of the initiative was that there would be no exchange of money between traders – it would involve the barter system. If a trader in Pakistan sent across goods worth five lakh Indian rupees to a trader on the Indian side, that trader would send back goods of the same value as payment.

It is to mention here that the initiative was launched during the tenure of the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government, its seed was planted in 2004, in the peace process initiated by the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf.

Cross-LoC trade was the second confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan after a cross-LoC bus service, which was launched in 2005.

For security agencies, cross-LoC trade has always attracted strict surveillance. They have, over the years maintained that they seized weapons, fake currency and narcotics being transported from the other side. (KNS)

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