JAMMU, Jan 3: After receiving no encouraging response from the Governments of India and Pakistan, the cross LoC traders from Poonch (J&K) and Mirpur and Rawlakote in Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK), today met at the neutral country- Azerbaijan Baku to resolve their pending trade related issues.
As the Governments on both the sides failed to organize even a single meet of these nearly 500 cross LoC traders and solve their long pending trade related issues, the hapless traders from both the sides of the LoC, who were facing business losses, were forced to take initiative at their own level and organized a meeting at the neutral venue for resolving their business related disputes.
Earlier, trade meetings were used to be held at the Zeroline (LoC) at regular intervals with the mediation of DG Trades, Pakistan and other officers from the Ministry of External Affairs and Trade and Industries from Indian side. As per the agreement between the 21 tradable items were allowed for conducting trade between the businessmen on both the sides of the LoC. But now hardly 4-5 items are being traded by the cross LoC traders in view of the discouraging response. Moreover, the traders are conducting trade for the items against items of the equal value on both the sides.
Pawan Anand, president Joint Cross LoC Trade Federation, J&K, told the Excelsior that 22 members from both the sides of the LoC attended this meeting at Baku Azerbaijan today. He said that before the commencement of meeting the presidentship of the Joint Cross LoC Traders Federation was transferred to him by the outgoing president Sardar Kareem Khan from PoJK while the mandate of general secretary was transferred to Rajeev Tandon of Poonch from the outgoing officer bearer Sardar Ansar Ahmed for a period of two years as per agreement of rotation.
He said the cross LoC trade was launched about a decade back as a part of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) on both the sides. But due to lack of support from the Governments of both the countries for the last over 3-4 years this trade is about to die slow death. The traders on both the sides are suffering huge losses and no trader would like to do a business of loss.
Anand said in a joint resolution the Joint Cross LoC Traders Federation J&K has urged the Government of Pakistan not to harass the traders of cross LoC trade by implicating the Custom Duty while transferring the goods towards the mainland, Pakistan.
Anand and Tandon said that if the harassment from Pakistan Customs continues all the traders will be forced to leave the trade which will lead to unemployment of thousands of people whether they are traders, labourers, truck drivers and other people concerned with the LOC trade and will also badly effect the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) on both sides of J&K.
They said for the last 10 years the enhancement of the tradable items has been requested many times but inspite of enhancing the items, many tradable items have been banned by both the Governments, like pulses, Coconut, Anardana etc.
Anand said zeroline meetings have not been arranged for the last three years which forced the Traders Federation to arrange the meeting in third country in which limited traders could participate. Both the Governments must arrange regular quarterly meetings of traders at both sides of trade centres to boost the trade and resolve their bilateral issues. A very long pending demand of traders has been revised to give the permits to the traders of both sides to visit the market of other sides for smooth functioning of trade, which will lead to friendly environment in both the countries which is the need of the hour. The meeting also requested the Governments of both sides to announce the yearly holiday calendar to save the perishable items, he added.
Meanwhile, Pawan Anand and Sardar Kareem Khan congratulated Rakesh Gupta president JCCI for taking over the presidentship of Joint Chamber shortly from president KCCI as per rotation and hope that he will work hard for the betterment of trade.
The delegation from Indian side included- Pawan Anand, Rajeev Tandon, Kaveen Dutta, Niaz Ahmad Bhatt, Mohd Sadeeq, JP Singh, Ashwani Rekrhi, Anil Puri, Imitiaz Ahmed Salaria, Sazad Ahamed, Mohd Fareed, Mohd Mushtaq. Those present from POK side in the meeting were Sardar Kareem Khan, Ansar Ahmed, Kazai Ashiq, Ch Muneer, Aijaz Kianai, Sardar Munawar, Asas Masood, Khan Manzoor, Ch Astham and Aseem Saleem.