'LoC trade part of CBM, J&K for opening of other routes'

5 March 2009
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: Minister for Industries and Commerce, Surjit Singh Slathia, today said that starting cross LoC trade between two sides of the J&K State is part of confidence building measures (CBM) between India and Pakistan and efforts of J&K Government would be to make this trade profitable and more viable. While replying to the question of PDP member Murtaza Khan in the Upper House today, the Minister said that after opening routes for people to people contact on both sides of the LoC, efforts were made to improve relations between the two countries and starting cross LoC was the part of confidence building measures between the two countries. He said State Government has already taken up the problems of the traders regarding communication- telephone facilities and banking facilities besides other obstacles they are facing during cross LoC trade. The coalition Government in the state wants to reopen Jammu-Sialkot, Nowshera-Kotli- Mirpur routes so that people on both the sides have easy access of meeting each other. He said only those items which have been approved by the two countries after taking matter at External Affairs Ministry level are being made exchanged- traded at present. The process started on October 21, 2008, through Slamabad -Chakoti and Chakkan Da Bagh-Rawalakot routes along LoC. Further responding to supplementaries of Ved Parkash Gupta and A G Vakil, the Minister admitted the it was not real trade. He said that Government intends to increase the tradable items and make the trade on both sides more viable. He said during wrap up meeting held on october 15, 2008 between the visiting trade delegation from PoK and the representatives of traders and manufacturers of J&K, the issue regarding opening of Suchetgarh -Sialkot, Nowshera-Mirpur and Pallanwalla-Chhamb routes was raised, which has been conveyed to the Union Government. During recent meeting in December at New Delhi, issue regarding expansion in the tradable items was also taken up. This will be sent to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. The matter will be then taken up with the Government of Pakistan by the Ministry of External Affairs.