Intra-Kashmir Trade To Figure In Delhi Talks21 February 2010
Islamabad: The slow pace of intra-Kashmir trade is likely to come up for serious consideration in the forthcoming Delhi talks scheduled between foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India on February 25, 2010. Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir may be offered the proposal for permission to open up Jammu and Kashmir (India-occupied) banks branches in Azad Jammu and Kashmir at the trade exchange points of Chakothi and Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch. Reports quoting PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s meeting with Indian minister Chidambaram in New Delhi on Saturday indicate that India would raise bank opening matter in the 25th February Delhi talks. Intra-Kashmir traders have been demanding induction of banking facility in the trading process across the Line of Control to give commercial boost to the trading activities. At present only goods are exchanged (barter) at two agreed points - at Chakothi and at Chakan-da-Bagh. With the banking facility available on both sides of the divide, not only the trade volume would rapidly increase, the trading level would go up to the regional plane, experts say. The intra-Kashmir trade was opened on October 23, 2008 following a land-mark summit meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Premier Dr Manmohan Singh on September 25, 2008 in New York. However, an element of pessimism always lurk in the process as much of the intra-Kashmir trade and travel depend on the quality of Pakistan-India relations in the region. Indian brutalization of human rights in occupied Kashmir often usher in enraged ups and downs between Islamabad and New Delhi. This initiative of intra-Kashmir trade releases occupied Kashmir traders from much existing hurdles of longer-distance transportation via occupied Jammu. Alternatively the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway provides them with shorter and most luckrative trade route via Pakistan markets to the outside world markets. There is a need to recall here that the centuries old trade routes of those parts of Jammu Kashmir now under Indian occupation run through Pakistan landmass to the international markets.