MIRPUR (AJK)

The former president of Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry sought increase in the list of items for exchange through the cross-Line of Control trade, and termed it need of the hour for making trade better and profitable.

The trade activities need to be given proper direction they deserve besides avoiding the pitfalls, said Dr Mubeen Shah.

All the other issues regarding LoC trade include the provision of whole truck scanners, additional warehouses as well as cold storages, construction of accommodation at the trade facilitation centre for drivers as well as traders in private public partnership mode, he said.

He also demanded creation of a director general trade office headed by a senior officer of the state, provision of multiple visit traveling permits for traders across the LoC, with communications allowed besides group tourism allowed as well in the future, education tie ups between different institutions on both sides of  the LoC”, he concluded.

He said, “It is unfortunate that when India itself was asking for the status of Most Favoured Nation from Pakistan, why in our case it does not ask the same for LoC trade which we have been advocating forcefully to both the countries. This is important for the future of trade as there is a wrong perception that only goods are of origin from both sides of LoC will be allowed to trade. This will limit the trade and make it unprofitable as our idea and support for trade has been from day one based on the premise that any item available in Muzaffarabad should be available in Jammu. In the same way, any item available in Jammu should be available in Mirpur without any barrier.”

He added, “This will give us the advantage of geography for once which otherwise has been a disadvantage to both the sides of the LoC. As we get advantage of trading with China, Central Asia, Russia as well as Iran, Indian mainland through this route will also be able to do same. It will also give us an alternate trading route.”

Regarding banking facilities, Dr Mubeen said that the issue was a tricky one which needed to be carefully handled. “When the trade was started in 2008, Pakistan and India wanted the trade to happen in US dollars which we opposed. We went to the extent that we will not do it at all if it is insisted as it would have a risk of confirming the status quo with regard to converting the LoC into an international border which nobody in Jammu and Kashmir state will allow,” he said.

It may be recalled that the cross LoC trade between both sides of the Line of control was launched on October  20 and 22, 2008 through Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Rawalakot-Poonch routes at the second leg as part of the CBMs reached between Pakistan and India next to the cross-LoC travel for the divided Jammu & Kashmir families.