Cross-LoC Trade Set To Take Off Despite Hurdles

12 October 2008
The Hindu

Srinagar: The president of “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AJKCCI), Zulfiqar Abbasi, on Sunday called for immediate steps to remove impediments in facilitating the trade across Line of Control (LoC) from October 21. He said absence of a direct telecommunication link between the two parts was the biggest hurdle. Mr. Abbasi told TheHindu that so far their visit had been very successful and they were looking forward to having a similar meeting with the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We discussed the modalities for the trade. We have identified all the issues and impediments on which we are making recommendations to both the governments,” he said adding that both sides had agreed to set up a joint platform to address all these issues. The main problem, he said, was infrastructure. “There is a problem of roads, bridges and other facilities like immediate clearance for goods and banking,” he said. But the major hurdle was the absence of telecommunication link between the two sides. “This has to be addressed on priority, otherwise this trade will not work,” he said. Nevertheless, both sides have signed the agreements and the trade is all set to start on October 21. “I am pleased to inform you that we have signed the requisite papers and trade will begin on October 21 from both sides and it is going to be reality now,” he said. Sources said medium trucks would move on both sides with items on that day. Mr. Abbasi said this was the most credible and substantive confidence building measure taken by India and Pakistan in the last five years of peace process. “We have a lot of expectations from this trade and we are hopeful that it will move forward on a bigger scale,” Mr. Abbasi said. After attending a meeting organised by the Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir here, the delegation left for Jammu where they were accorded a rousing reception by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They are scheduled to interact with trade leaders and visit Suchetgarh border, besides meeting officials and civil society members.