Endorsing the trade demand, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday stressed the need for ending the barter system in cross-Line of Control trade.

“The trade across LoC is still a barter system. I regret that this barter has not been ended. A lot needs to be done to streamline the trade,” he said referring to the meeting between the External Affairs Ministers of India and Pakistan and their announcement of confidence-building measures related to Kashmir.

“Trade should go ahead with the banking system also. There has to be strong trade relations between the two sides,” Mr Abdullah said speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Kashmir Premier League tournament here.

Also, cross-LoC bus services should not be confined to divided families. “Earlier, the trade was only for divided families. Now it is extended to tourists and pilgrims also. We hope that at the next meeting between the Foreign Ministers, the scope of trade and bus services will be widened.”

On Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's meeting with separatist leaders, the Chief Minister said there was nothing new discussed. But “Pakistan ministers should meet the real representatives of Kashmiris. Mainstream parties are the real and proud representatives of Kashmiris. They meet Hurriyat at every meeting. There is no need to be ecstatic about it.”

‘Walls crumbling'

Omar's father and Union Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah expressed the hope that the fresh round of India-Pakistan talks would narrow down the differences between the nations.

“Both India and Pakistan want friendship. The dialogue process is going ahead in a good environment,” said Mr. Abdullah. “With the ongoing dialogue, the walls of hatred between the two countries are crumbling.”

Communist Party of India(Marxist) State secretary M. Y. Tarigami hailed the CBMs, saying friendship between the two neighbours was indispensable to lasting peace and normality in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a convention, organised by the All-India Apple Growers Association at Baramulla, he urged the leadership of both countries to sort out banking and communication issues to make trade and travel across the LoC more pragmatic and result-oriented. “The barter system is impeding smooth and hassle-free trade.”Meanwhile, the All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) has reiterated its demand for reopening of the Shaardha Mata temple in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In the backdrop of the successful Foreign Minister-level talks, APMCC chairman Vinod Pandit stressed that the two countries, particularly the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Pakistan, should help to reopen the holiest temple of Kashmiri Pandits and facilitate their travel through the LoC to offer worship.

“Our organisation, which has been demanding reopening of the Shaardha Temple for a long time, feels encouraged by the joint statement on religious pilgrimage and hopes that this facility would be extended to the Kashmiri Pandits, who are the aborigines of Kashmir.”

Opening the temple would prove one of the greatest CBMs and help in bringing the people of the two countries together