SRINAGAR, June 7: There is dip in the cross border trade from Pakistan administered Kashmir to Jammu and Kashmir through the Chakan-da-Bagh border, which has upset one of the major bilateral confidence-building modes to improve ties between New Delhi and Islamabad.
The trade route across divided Kashmir was thrown open for the first time in 60 years in 2008, in an attempt to bring a peace dividend to the restive Himalayan region.
Speaking to mediapersons at Poonch trade centre here on Wednesday, a trader said that they have incurred losses, and that border trade has lost momentum, as out of the list of 21 items, only two or three items are being exported.
“The reason is that trade began for the 21 items mentioned in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) list and instead of increasing the number of items, the items were decreased and now only two or three items are being exported,” Abdul Gani Dewan, a local trader said.
He added that the Home Secretary R.K. Singh, during his recent visit to the region had promised additions to the list but no changes have been effected yet.
“He (R.K. Singh) had said that more items would be added to that list but neither the number of items has increased and nor is the SOP list being followed. Only two-three items are being exported. Bananas were being exported but due to the summer season, either the exported bananas are being sent back from, Pakistan or the produce is getting damaged. Garlic has also been sent back, so the traders are incurring losses,” Dewan said.
Trade Facilitating Officer (TFO), Chakan-da-Bagh, Poonch, Abdul Hameed Sheikh, clarified that the Indian government had not imposed any ban and the 21 items mentioned in the list can be exported.
“There is no ban on the 21 items mentioned in the list, it is agreed from the side of the government. However, if a ban is imposed by the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), then it is not in our control. There is no ban on the 21 items from the Indian side, those items produced in Jammu and Kashmir would be exported,” Sheikh said.
The trade started in 2008 after the Kashmiris demanded for an alternative trade route for business purpose.
Another aim of the cross border trade was to initiate contact between people living in both the regions and promote peace.