Traders from Pakistan have called for peace in Jammu and Kashmir and pressed for cessation of hostilities between India and Pakistan on Line of Control (LoC).
In a meeting 25 traders who came from Tetrinote, trading point at the LoC, Rawalakot expressed skepticism about the future of Cross LoC trade and said they consider cross border shelling a serious threat for both peace and business in the region.
“Trade which is sustaining on blind trust between people of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State lacks basic facilities and infrastructure. One of the pioneers of this trade,” Sardar Kazeem Khan, who heads cross LoC trade union of Tatrinote said in a statement issued here.
“We are not allowed to meet our trade counterparts frequently. There is no proper banking system or currency exchange mechanism in place, continuation of trade in such a hostile security environment is an anomaly in International business.”
Amidst serious deliberations and brain storming sessions during the capacity building workshop arranged by Center for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR), a research and advocacy think tank traders across Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) pressed for structural changes and better mechanism in the ongoing Cross LoC trade.
Among the suggested mechanism, the issue of scanners’ availability was raised by almost every participant, a CDPR handout read.
“They were of the view that trade goods upon entering Pakistan are unpacked and examined thoroughly which is a time consuming exercise, it destroys the life and quality of goods, multiplies the packing cost which disturbs the cost profit equation of the trade,” the spokesperson said adding the trade was bound to flourish and it was expected that the list of trading items will be deepened with the passage of time but on the contrary, number of items have been reduced from 21 to 13.
“The promise of banking facilities across LoC hasn’t been fulfilled yet,” said Sardar Shahid Mahmoud, first trader to send consignment across in 2008 and who heads Kotli chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said, “My weekly consignment which is sent across is of 10 million PKR, but I always consider it a high risk investment as I don’t have any opportunity to meet my trade counterpart from other side. They can’t even make a phone call from the other side. If some dispute arises between traders, there is no dispute resolution council in place which makes it even more risky.”
The spokesperson said the traders during the session were all in awe about social media as according to them, it has somewhat circumvented the restrictions on travel and communication between traders across LoC. “PaK being a disputed territory has had very few opportunities of economic development and progress, this trade has opened a new source of employment for many families associated to business. However few immediate measures are required to ensure better output of this trade. Important among them are lack of access to the markets in Pakistan, issues of custom duty and legitimacy of Cross LoC trade in Islamabad,” the spokesperson further said in a statement.