Cross-border commerce brings cheer to Kashmir traders (Lead)

October 9th, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghSrinagar, Oct 9 (IANS) A 19-member delegation of Pakistani Kashmir businessmen arrived here Thursday as traders of the divided state expressed hope that the trade list between the two countries will be expanded in the days to come.The delegation will discuss modalities with Jammu and Kashmir traders for cross-border commerce, which is expected to start Oct 21 between two parts of divided Kashmir.

The trade delegation, led by Zulfiqar Ahmad, president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir’s chamber of commerce and industry, will be in the state for 10 days.

“The traders from Muzaffarabad (capital of Pakistani Kashmir) will meet the local traders in both the summer capital Srinagar and winter capital Jammu to finalise the trade itinerary between the two parts of divided Kashmir,” said Altaf Ahmad Nizami, media advisor of the visiting delegation.

India and Pakistan have agreed to begin the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade in Jammu and Kashmir from Oct 21 when trucks will start moving on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route. A week later, on Oct 28 lorries will begin rolling between Poonch in Jammu and Rawlakote in Pakistani Kashmir.

The move was announced in the New York meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month.

An 11-member team of the Jammu and Kashmir traders led by Mobeen Shah, president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), received the delegation from Muzaffarabad at Salamabad tourist reception centre in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

“It is a journey of peace and prosperity. We are going to re-establish the broken trade relations after 60 years,” head of the Pakistani Kashmir trade delegation Zulfiqar Abbasi told reporters.

“It is a great event for us all. We are sure the trade list would continue to be expanded with the passage of time,” said Shah, the KCCI president, as he welcomed the visiting delegation.

Sources said “wazwan”, the famous mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisine, cricket bats, carpets, shawls, wall-hangings, papier mache items, basmati rice, fresh fruits, black mushrooms, red kidney beans, dry fruits and green tea are the trade items approved for cross-LoC trade from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistani Kashmir.

“Precious stones, dates, pulses, dry fruits, rock salt and embroidered items would be traded in the valley from Muzaffarabad,” an official told IANS.

The Kashmir tourism department hosted a welcome dinner for the Muzaffarabad traders in the newly renovated Nigeen Club on the bank of the Nigeen Lake in Srinagar.

The KCCI will also host a dinner for their guests here Friday.

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