Intra-Kashmir Traders Meet In Dubai

19 December 2015
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: In a bid to give some impetus to the declining intra-Kashmir trade, the business leaders from both sides of Kashmir today resolved to pitch for reopening of Kargil-Skardu route and increase in tradable items besides opening of communication and banking facilities. The business leaders privy to the meeting which was organized by a European Think Tank at Dubai informed Greater Kashmir that the meeting resolved to strengthen cross-LoC trade. 'Threadbare discussions were held in which the traders from both parts of Kashmir unequivocally supported strengthening and expanding the trade between two parts of Kashmir which was started as a Confidence Building Measure,' they said. 'The traders urged the governments of India and Pakistan to reopen Kargil-Skardu road,' they said. Kargil-Skardu road was part of the Silk Route used for trade for centuries before it fell into disuse. It was one of the most important routes through which many traders travelled all the way from Tibet to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sources said the traders from both sides demanded inclusion of cement besides some other items in the list of tradable articles. 'Traders pledged to pressurize both governments to expand the tradable items and introduce banking and communication facilities in order to give fillip to the trade,' they said. Interestingly in this part of Kashmir rate of cement has touched Rs 400 per bag while in PAK it is in the price band of Rs 170 to 250 per bag. The meeting from this side was attended by former president of Joint Chamber of Commerce, J&K, Y V Sharma, President Kashmir Traders Manufacturers Federation and Muhammad Yasin Khan, President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, president Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir Muhammad Ashraf Mir, former President KCCI, Sheikh Ashiq, President Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rakesh Gupta and others. The PAK traders' delegation was led by Zulfikar Abbassi, Mehmood Dar and others. The cross-LoC trade was started on October 2008 by India and Pakistan. Seven years down the line, the trade has been reduced to mere 'symbolic gesture' thanks to politics of acrimony between the two countries. The trade which began in 2008 through Salamabad in Uri and Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch district with two trade facilitation centres, was an important CBM, with Kashmir's business community hoping to use these routes for transit trade and alternative to Srinagar-Jammu highway which is the only road link connecting Kashmir to the rest of the world. However, as per the business community things did not go as planned as the politics between India and Pakistan didn't allow this trade to flourish. As per the information gathered by Greater Kashmir, in the beginning of the trade there were around 600 traders who registered with Industries department in order to do business with their counterparts on other side of Kashmir. But now the number of active traders has come down to just 65.