‘Cross-border trade will strengthen India-Pakistan ties’

October 13th, 2008 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghJammu, Oct 13 (IANS) Cross-border trade between both parts of Jammu and Kashmir will strengthen India-Pakistan ties, said the leader of a business delegation from Pakistani Kashmir here Monday.The delegation is in the winter capital of the state to discuss modalities for cross-border commerce expected to start Oct 21 between two parts of Kashmir divided between India and Pakistan. The delegation flew here Sunday after spending three days in Srinagar where they arrived Oct 9.

Zulfiqar Abbasi, president of Pakistani Kashmir’s chamber of Commerce and industries, said cross-border trade would be a binding factor not only between two parts of the state but also between India and Pakistan.

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.

“Trade organisations both in Indian and Pakistani side of Jammu and Kashmir are in favour of having joint chamber of commerce and industries. We are working to concretise this plan,” Abbasi told the media on the sidelines of an exhibition arranged for the visiting delegation by Jammu traders.

Suggesting trade be done using “dual currency” of India and Pakistan, he said there was a lot of trade potential between the two sides of Kashmir but measures needed to be taken so that “it becomes meaningful and not just a symbolic gesture”.

He said the bridges and roads connecting the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir “have less load bearing capacity”.

“The bridges are weak (having) only one tonne vehicle capacity. This way no significant business is possible.”

Abassi regretted the snapping of telephone connectivity from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistani territory. “How can we think of meaningful business without telephone line,” he asked.

But, he said, “We must all remember that this is going to be difficult journey but it will deliver in a big way if we are sincere”.

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