Other Kashmir Flays Mafia In LoC Trade

27 April 2009
Greater Kashmir

Islamabad: Kashmiri business community on this side of line of control has lodged a strong protest against the non-state subjects who, they said, had jumped into the trans-LoC trade just to maintain hegemony over Kashmiri traders. At a press conference in Muzaffarabad, the representatives of traders’ community while expressing anguish and resentment over the alleged involvement of non-state subjects in the trade have made it clear that any attempt intended to reduce Kashmiris to the level of guides and porters would be thwarted at any cost. They appealed the governments on both sides to take stock of the situation and get rid of the elements who wanted to monopolize the trade and marginalize Kashmiri traders. The president of newly established union of traders, Malik Muzzammil Aslam, told Greater Kashmir that opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad trade route was meant to provide an opportunity to the people of the divided state to get benefits from intra-Kashmir trade. The historic route, he said, was thrown open to mitigate economic sufferings of the people but ironically this trade has now been hijacked by Delhi and Lahore-based mafia. “Though there are other trade-routes available to them but they deliberately use this route to sideline Kashmiri traders,” he said. Terming them as tax-defaulters, Aslam maintained that they were using this trade route to send huge consignments without paying taxes and other duties. Commenting on the issue, the chairman of Joint Chamber of Pakistani & Indian Administered Kashmir Traders Federation, Zulfiqar Abbasi, said, “There is no such issue as all the companies involved in the trade are local.” However, he said, there were some elements who wanted to monopolize this whole system but this is not the realistic approach as for the larger interests of the people were concerned. “We want a flourished trade across the divided state wherein people across the divide can have greater opportunities to achieve economic prosperity,” he said. Abbasi said that according to the protocol signed by the governments of India and Pakistan, there had been no mention of small, medium or big traders. He said some people were said to have approached the officials who had suggested restricting the trade to 25 truckloads. He said that the suggestion had been presented to the officials in view of the poor road infrastructure. “However, our viewpoint in this regard is very clear, we want a full-fledged and sustainable trade and have made it clear time and again that a limited-trade would not serve the interests of people,” he added. Altaf Baba adds from Varmul: In its Monday issue, Greater Kashmir had reported the role of Delhi and Lahore based non-Kashmiri traders allegedly to hijack the cross line of control trade and how the bona fide traders from the divided state were being sidelined.