Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir not to allow themselves to be influenced by ‘misleading’ propaganda about the ‘delay’ on the part of India in starting trade across the Line of Control, and the alleged economic blockade of the Valley.

A Home Ministry spokesman said: “India has been assiduously pursuing the matter of opening trade route across the LoC and would continue to do so. India is ready to commence cross-LoC trade, but awaits Pakistani willingness to implement the agreement reached in April 2005.”

Elaborating the steps being taken by India as part of the Confidence Building Measures with Pakistan, he said that during the meeting of the working group on cross-LoC CBMs in July 2008, a number of decisions were taken such as simplification of procedures for issue of travel permits and making the two cross-LoC bus services weekly. To begin cross-LoC trade as soon as possible, India proposed that it be started immediately on the basis of the lists of items proposed by each side for import and export. Pakistan, however, presented a fresh list, common for both imports and exports, and certain other conditions. When pressed, the Pakistani delegation agreed to reconsider it so that trade could proceed on the basis of the earlier agreement.

“We had emphasised to Pakistan that they should not insist on procedural issues raised by them as that would tie up the whole issue in a morass of red tape and further delay the initiation of cross-LoC trade.”

Media reports

The spokesman said that for the past several days, there had been reports in the media, and statements attributed to various people, on the alleged economic blockade of the Valley and the demand for opening of the route to Muzaffarabad, across the LoC, for trade. Particular emphasis had been laid on transportation of fruits from the Valley to the rest of the country, and reference to alleged shortage of essential commodities in the State. “In the process, elements who have been opposed to normalisation of the situation in the sensitive State have also got an opportunity to misguide the people.”

He said: “It is hoped that the people of the Valley will not allow themselves to get involved in activities which have disrupted the normalcy of the State, the daily lives of the people including education of children, supplies of basic commodities, normal business and other activities, including tourism, which is one of the mainstays of the economy there.”

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