Setback to LoC trade unaffordable: Mufti

SRINAGAR: Expressing concern at the suspension of trade and travel across the Line of Control (LoC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Tuesday said the peace process should not become a hostage to any isolated unlawful acts or events.

In a statement he said LoC trade and travel were the only achievements for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, since independence, in their effort to end the siege around the state.

Mufti said while there was need for action to curb any attempt to take undue advantage of this only window of opportunity between the people of the divided sate, it will prove a huge setback to the process of reconciliation started in 2003 if appropriate measures were not taken to reverse the slide.

He said the decade long process has been threatened on many occasions and recently by ceasefire violations, but this needs to be safeguarded against any subversion, as it offers a foundation for realization of a new and achievable vision about J&K and the entire region.

Mufti said the reports about a breakthrough on taking Indo-Pak trade to the next level, in the wake of recent meeting between the commerce ministers of the two countries, represent a positive development. But, the hiccups in the trade and travel between the two sides of J&K assume more negativity and feed cynicism in the state when viewed in the backdrop of increased activity across Wagah border.

The PDP patron said it was unfortunate that the trade and travel between the divided parts of the state has not developed to the level, as it should have been this time, but hoped the two countries will read the writing on the wall which is all for doing away with the past baggage of hatred and animosity.

Mufti said: “We can’t afford to let this historic development fall in groove, where from it will be difficult for us to get it back and there was need of taking some bold steps to make it more vibrant and successful, which not only will help to give boost to the economic activities across the LoC, but will go a long way in creating a suitable environment for the resolution of the political problem.”

He said the PDP had cautioned that the trade could be vulnerable to such illegal actions in absence of proper infrastructure, banking backup and other facilities, and the two countries must sort it out before it snowballs into a major problem and becomes difficult to get it back on rails.

He said it was PDP’s vision to make J&K a free economic zone as that was an important feature of the process to bring about lasting peace in the region and the two countries must take steps to address loopholes that might be used to subvert the process of reconciliation. He said it is time the concerned ministry in the union government takes up the matter with their counterparts in Pakistan and come up with some solution to end the ongoing stalemate.

Mufti said there was immediate need of increasing the frequency of buses on Srinagar-Muzzafrabad and Poonch-Rawlakoot roads to give boost to more people to people contacts and the PDP sees that as an effort to end the prevailing trust deficit among the people on either side of the border. Similarly, he said, the two countries must implement the decision taken about the opening of Kargil-Skardu road, so that it becomes easy for the people of those areas to visit each other. The decision to expand the facility of travel beyond divided families and providing communication and banking back up too remain unimplemented even though it was taken more than two years back by the foreign ministers of the two countries, added Mufti.

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