LoC Traders Meet in Tashkent, Urge India & Pak Govts to Restore Cross-border Biz
The meeting was held between June 23 and 25 and was facilitated by Conciliation Resources, an NGO working in different conflict zones and has also been proactive in arranging track-II talks.
At the traders' meet in Tashkent.
Srinagar: About two months after the government suspended the cross-border trade in Jammu and Kashmir citing “funnelling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency” as reasons, traders and representatives from from both sides held a three-day meet at Uzbekistan capital Tashkent.
The traders urged the governments of India and Pakistan to take a comprehensive review of the modalities and technical mechanism to restore cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade at the earliest. The meeting was held between June 23 and 25 and was facilitated by Conciliation Resources, an NGO working in different conflict zones and has also been proactive in arranging track-II talks.
“The participants took a comprehensive view of the cross-LoC confidence building measures initiated by the governments of India and Pakistan since 2005,” a joint statement issued after the meeting said.
“They acknowledged the fact that various such measures like trade and travel across LoC, in their limited scope, have contributed to building trust and enhancing shared understanding between regions and communities. Participants were of the unanimous view that agreement on the 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 statement said.
According to the traders, they have been sustaining the barter trade as an emotional investment despite severe financial risks and procedural and operational difficulties. “The abrupt suspension of trade has resulted in avoidable opportunity loss,” the statement said, adding that “after launching of trade on an archaic and ad-hoc model in 2008, the governments (of India and Pakistan) did not do enough to put the mechanisms on modern lines which left it vulnerable to possible misuse.”
It is regrettable, the statement said “that the peacebuilding and economic potential of the cross-LoC trade could not be realised to its optimum strength due to a variety of reasons.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said the National Investigating Agency (NIA) had found that trade was being used for terrorist activities. “During the ongoing investigations of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism,” the MHA had said.
“Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organisations, have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organisations and are engaged in LoC trade,” it had said.
Meanwhile, acknowledging the political sensitivities of the two countries and difficulties in actualising the spirit behind softening of the Line of Control, the traders said, they “vehemently 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.
Several women entrepreneurs from both sides of the border had also taken part in the meeting, the statement said.
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