'Don’t Demolish LoC, Make It Porous'31 March 2011
Jammu: A senior minister today described the dividing Kashmir Line of Control as artificial and called for making it irrelevant to allow divided people to meet and trade with each other. Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather said the artificial line between two neighboring countries of India and Pakistan be made “utterly Irrelevant, if not demolishing it altogether like the wall of Berlin”. “It is union of hearts and not the physical segregation of bodies that offers a better solution for reconciling conflicting political interests”, Rather said while speaking at the valedictory function of “Panel Discussion on Cross-LoC Trade” here today. He said LoC, like the wall of Berlin has emerged through history as one of the biggest human tragedies. “The line has worked as a line of segregation of two opposite political ideologies for the last over six decades and has, all through, remained oblivious of pain and anguish of all the human beings living across this line on either side despite sharing strong bonds of common culture, language, economic interests and in many cases having close social and blood relationships”. Rather said that the Government of India, particularly Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has taken up the issue of opening up of LOC for people to people meeting as well as trade with Pakistan. Besides, Dr. Manmohan Singh has appointed one working group headed by Shri M.K. Rasgotra exclusively to deal with the subject of ‘Strengthening Relations across LoC’. This Group has recommended several measures for facilitating trade across the LoC as well as for expansion of cross LoC people to people contacts for “not only improving the economic conditions on both sides” , but also as “an important step towards normalization of the situation”. It would be relevant to say that the representatives of the Trade and Commerce from our side had already visited across LoC and had reported to the Group that there was ‘lot of enthusiasm for opening of trade and commerce between the two sides’. Rather said that a steady and gradual growth in the volume of trade has taken place over the years despite the restricted lines of communication, absence of a banking and currency mechanism for trading and deficiencies in the trading infrastructure hastily created on either side of LoC. He said the enthusiasm of the trading community on both sides of LoC has carried their activities forward with a missionary zeal adding that more than the idea of monetary benefits accruing to them. Rather urged for making LoC wholly porous to freely allow frequent and widespread meetings of the people living on either side of the divide and also to permit more trading activities through additional routes. He said that it was heartening to note that demands are already being raised for re-opening of pre-partition routes as also new points located on the international border and the LoC in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions. “Ultimately, it is the voice of the intellectuals, philanthropists, thinkers and human rights workers which will have to be heard”, Rather added and said state Government has already conveyed its desire to opening more trade routes to the Centre. The senior N.C leader said that the government has decided to invest a sum of '20 crore for upgradation of the Trade Facilitation Centers at Salambad and Chakan Da Bagh during the next financial year. “A model has been proposed by the department of financial services, Government of India for establishing a banking mechanism for the Cross LoC Trade. The matter has been taken-up with the Ministry of External Affairs and is likely to be taken up with the Government of Pakistan for their acceptance”, Rather said adding that the ISD telephone facilities have been provided at about a dozen nodal points.