MIRPUR (AJK)-The suspension of trade and Rawalakot-Poonch bus service across the Line of Control (LoC) for three straight weeks has sparked grave concerns among the traders and the divided families in Jammu Kashmir.

The joint business community leaders from both the sides of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir said that the cross-LoC trade has enormous symbolic value for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as it not only connects people but also provides livelihood to a large number of people living near the LoC.

The traders engaged in cross-LoC trade urged the governments of Pakistan and India not to politicise the trade and travel, that are considered the major confidence-building measures (CBM) between India and Pakistan over Kashmir conflict.

The cross-LoC trade from Teitrinote-Chakan-da-bagh trade point is suspended since last four weeks following the reported exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani forces at the LoC in Poonch sector.

Joint Federation of LoC Traders in Poonch President Sardar Kazeem Khan, Joint President Mr Pawan Annand, Secretary General Mr Rajeev Tandan from Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Joint Secretary Sardar Insar Khan asked both Islamabad and New Delhi to resume trade and travel on the a priority basis.

According to Sardar Kazeem, cross-LoC trade is the only CBM survived and sustained in all odds even during the peak time of cross LoC hostilities. “Despite the tension along the LoC, the cross-LoC traders have stood up for the sustainability of the trade, but this time it seems that authorities on both the sides are less interested in the cross-LoC trade and travel,” he added. “Some elements on the Indian side of LoC are continuously propagating to stop the trade while on the Pakistani side neither authorities nor political leadership has shown any interest in the issue,” Khan said.

Due to the suspension of trade and bus service, hundreds of people who want to visit either side of the LoC are unable to visit their relative while dozens of traders are waiting for their consignments from across LoC.

Meanwhile, hundreds of daily wage labourer and truck drivers engaged in the movement of consignments across the zero line are jobless for the past many weeks. The cross-LoC trade took off on October 21, 2008 simultaneously from Chakothi-Slamabad and Tetrinote-Chakan-da-Bagh and had gone through several ups and down over the years.