The cross-LoC traders of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), who met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from June 23-25, have called for resumption of trade between two parts of Kashmir divided by the Line of Control (LoC).
The three-day meeting was facilitated by Conciliation Resources as part of its support to cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad told Rising Kashmir that the deliberations were held on the resumption and strengthening of the trade.
He said their first step will be to talk to their respective governments on either side for reopening and resuming the LoC trade.
“We have discussed about the losses due to the suspension of cross LoC trade including how to make trade more successful and viable in future," he said.
Ashiq said the cross LoC trade was the biggest Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between India, Pakistan and for Kashmir.
The cross-LoC traders and leaders of business chambers from both sides of the Kashmir assured their respective governments of their full support and assistance in putting the trade on modern and transparent lines to the benefit of economic development and peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Various CBMs like trade and travel across LoC, in their limited scope, have contributed in building trust and enhancing shared understanding between regions and communities. We are of the unanimous view that agreement on opening of the Line of Control for travel of divided families and further allowing it for trade was a demonstration of the statesmanship of the leadership of India and Pakistan,” the participants said.
The cross-LoC traders said responding to the CBMs agreed by India and Pakistan, they sustained the cross-LoC trade with emotional investment despite severe financial risks and procedural and operational difficulties.
They noted with concern and regret that after launch of trade on an archaic and adhoc model in 2008, India and Pakistan did not do enough to put the mechanism on modern lines which left it vulnerable to possible misuse.
They regretted that the trade was suspended by Indian government on April 18, 2019 for no fault of genuine traders. “The abrupt suspension of trade has resulted into avoidable opportunity loss.”
The traders noted with deep regret that the peace building and economic potential of the cross-LoC trade could not be realized to its optimum strength due to a variety of reasons.
They acknowledged the political sensitivities and difficulties in actualizing the spirit behind softening of LoC and asserted that businesses can be viewed separately from politics as in the case of India-Pakistan international trade, which has continued uninterruptedly despite many bilateral setbacks.
The participation of women entrepreneurs from both sides of Line of Control was one of the key highlights of the Tashkent meeting.
Those who were present during the meeting include Anjum Zaman, Cross-LoC Trader, Muzaffarabad, Farzana Yaqoob, Entrepreneur from Poonch (PaK), Ghulam Murtaza, ex-President PaK Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mirpur, Imran Aziz, Businessman from Poonch (PaK), Muhammad Kazeem Khan, Cross-LoC Trader, Rawalakot-Poonch, PaK, Shaista Rehman, Entrepreneur, Muzaffarabad, PaK, Sohail Shujah, President AJK Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mirpur, Tanveer Anwar Qureshi, Muzaffarabad Chamber of Commerce, Zulfiqar Abbasi, Ex-President of JK-JCCI, Arifa Jan, Member, KCCI, Srinagar, Ashiq Ahmad Sheikh, President, KCCI, Jasprit Kaur, Entrepreneur, Jammu, Mubeen Ahmed Shah, ex-President, JK-JCCI, Pawan Kumar Anand, LoC Trader, Rahul Pandit, Entrepreneur, Anantnag/Jammu,Rajesh Gupta, Member, Vice President, Jammu Chamber, Rakesh Gupta, President, Jammu Chamber, President JK-JCCI, YV Sharma, ex-President, JCCI, Farooq Amin, Secretary General, KCCI, Srinagar.