Trade across LoC reduced to trickle

13 February 2009
The Daily Times

New Delhi: The cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade that resumed after six decades on October 21 has been reduced to a trickle. Traders in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) have stopped sending trucks across the LoC due to the uncertainty of being paid. Traders said they had yet to settle accounts for items they had sold on the day the LoC was re-opened for trading. The situation has worsened because of the standoff between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai terror attacks. Trading facilities, like telephone communication and banks for transactions, were unavailable and would neither materialise in the near future in view of the talks deadlocked after the attacks. Traders had tried to square deals for banking facilities between the two countries through barters. Those in Kashmir said they had been taken for a ride as they were told their products did not fetch the expected price and were given pittance in return. Promises: They said they had been told at the time of re-opening of the trade that necessary facilities would be provided. But after more than three months, they were still without any, be it restoration of the telephone links or setting up of banks in towns like Srinagar, Jammu, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur. J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had himself stated many times that cross-LoC trade was meaningless unless traders were provided with telephone facilities. Everywhere else in India, one could make or receive calls from Pakistan while the Kashmiris could only receive calls from there. Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Dr Mubeen Shah said no trader wanted to risk his products unless he was assured of profit. Regarding financial security in the current deals, Dr Shah said the traders were hesitant to send their products across.