India, Pakistan governments accused of indifference

Trade across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir remains suspended, with traders demanding greater attention from the governments of India and Pakistan so as to make it “a real success”

Though there have been ups and downs in trade since October 2008, when it was started as part of confidence-building measures between the two countries, this suspension has stretched for a long time, three months in certain areas.

Though the Muzaffarabad-based Intra Kashmir Trade Union Contact Committee of Pakistan-Administered-Kashmir (IKTUCC) on Friday announced that trade had resumed, those associated with the trade on this side rejected the claim. The demands included complete exemption of Value Added Tax on goods, and implementation of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

Expressing surprise at the indifference of both governments on the issue, Pawan Anand, president of the newly formed J&K Chambers of LoC Trade, said the union was constituted to exert pressure on the governments in New Delhi, Islamabad, Srinagar and Muzaffarabad to remove the bottlenecks.

“This is a blind trade and unless it is monetised nothing will happen. The governments on both sides have reduced it to a joke and have been indifferent to the issue,” said Hilal Ahmad Turkey, general secretary of the union. Mr. Turkey, who led a demonstration here on June 12, said trade would not be resumed until the governments moved positively on their demands. “When the trade was started, we used to send 200 trucks every Tuesday and Wednesday. The main items we used to send were spices. In return, we used to receive the same number of trucks loaded with carpets, dry-fruits, fruits and sometimes, onions and potatoes.” Now the number of trucks plying was down to 50.

“The government should exempt all items traded between the two sides from VAT and implement the SOP in letter and in spirit. When it has been named a trade, it should be trade in the real sense.”

The IKTUCC on Friday announced resumption, after three weeks, of trade via the Salamabad-Chakoti crossing point. The J&K Chambers, however, refuted the statement.