Cross-LoC trade between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir goes on, despite frequent cross-border skirmishes. The trade was introduced with a hope that it would act as a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries.
Here are few interesting things to know about cross-border trade between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir:
In 2008, India and Pakistan had taken the step of running trucks on routes that connect the two parts of Kashmir, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads. The opening to trade was seen as the biggest confidence-building measure since the two countries fought their first war over Kashmir in 1947.
Besides Salamabad that is located at Uri in Baramulla District of the Kashmir valley, LoC trade is also done through Chakan-da-Bagh in Jammu region’s Poonch District into the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC).
The decision to start trade across the LoC was taken in the follow-up of a meeting between the Indian prime minister and the president of Pakistan in April 2005.
Following the meeting, Indian and Pakistani officials further held talks at New Delhi in May 2006, in which it was decided that cross-LoC trade would be started through a truck service, for which a list of goods would also be identified.
Cross border trade amist cross border firing. Pakistani trucks cross LoC into Poonch at Chakan Da Bagh under watchful eyes of an Army Jawan. pic.twitter.com/6yE1PHqEM1
— Man Aman Singh Chhina (@manaman_chhina) January 24, 2018
Subsequently in a meeting between the Indian government’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials and the provincial government officials in Kashmir held on June 16, 2008, it was decided to develop the facilities in two places, at Uri and Poonch, to start the trade.
After identifying land and creating other facilities, cross-LoC trade formally started between two countries in October 2008.
Only 140 traders are able to trade on a given day out of total 220 traders. From both sides of Kashmir, traders are allowed to deal in 21 items though they have been seeking that the number of items be increased.
The trade is not governed by any foreign trade policy. The Customs Act, 1962, is also not applicable on it.
The items traded include spices, vegetables, dry and fresh fruits, carpets, rugs, embroidery items, shawls, paper machie goods, clothes and wooden furniture.
As per official estimates, cross-LoC trade till last financial year had recorded imports worth about Rs. 3,200 crore and exports worth over Rs 3,500 crore since 2008.
Since 2008, there have been three incidents when concealed contraband goods were recovered from trucks coming from Muzaffarabad.
An alleged drug-smuggling racket was also busted in 2017 in the trade.
Notwithstanding the illegal exchange of goods and cross border skirmishes, the trade has been going on strong. It is said that money can cure a lot of evils; let’s hope that it helps bring the two nations together.