Cross LoC trade brings down firing, infiltrations

November 4th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Nov 4 (IANS) It is just a fortnight since cross border trade between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir began, finding a good market for the goods on both sides of the divide. A welcome result of this has been a marked decline in the firing and infiltration attempts from the Pakistani side, said an army official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said since trade across the Line of Control (LoC) began Oct 21, “the infiltration attempts and hence the cover fire has come down to negligible levels”.

Truckloads of goods are ferried across the border and have found good markets. “You saw how the rice, onions and garlic from Pakistan got sold out in no time at an exhibition in Jammu,” said Ram Sahai, president Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jammu. “We are told that our items are also selling the same way on the other side (Pakistan)”.

He said: “Besides business and trade, the items being exported to the other side carry emotional value as well.”

The infiltration attempts and also firing incidents, described as “ceasefire violations”, were happening quite frequently. The security forces attributed it to the desperate attempts by militants to create unrest in the run-up to the assembly elections and setting in of the winter season.

Though the cross-LOC trade has begun on a small note, “it makes a big difference”, Sahai said, adding, “with the economy crumbling the world over, even small things make a big count. Every penny in business and trade matters a lot these days.”

Aijaz Kazmi, a journalist in Poonch, said: “The people of both sides of Kashmir want this trade to flourish and there has to be peace on the LOC for that or else trade will be the first casualty.”

An army official agreed that guns have to be silent “in the greater interest of people on both sides”. But, he said: “The army is and will always be on alert against any acts of desperation by militants - whether it’s infiltration or strikes.”

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