'Cross-LoC trade has peace-building potential'
End restrictions on communication, goods: Report
Srinagar, Mar 25: A report has underlined that the Cross LoC trade between India and Pakistan has a strong peace-building potential, asserting that it was time to expand it and end the security bottlenecks and also the restrictions on communication, goods and banking.
The 4-page report has been jointly submitted by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies New Delhi, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency and Conciliation Resources, an international resource centre for local organizations pursuing peace-building and conflict resolution initiatives.
“Since the introduction of trade across the Line of Control in Kashmir in 2008, as a confidence building measure under the Indo-Pak composite dialogue, traders have established a regular exchange of goods. There have been economic gains despite considerable challenges posed by the situation. The peace-building aspects of the trade have also been considerable,” reads the report. “The cross-border relationships of trust developed through trade have proved to have resilience to political turmoil and have begun to establish a bottom-up approach to peace-building. Trade has attracted divided families and some former combatants and provided a non-violent role and an alternative vision for change and conflict transformation.”
The report, however, pinpoints that the traders face considerable obstacles primarily from the heavy constraints that govern their activities. “They seek easing of limitations on communication and travel and an extension of trading through existing and potential routes across the LoC and in the list of goods that can be traded,” it mentions.
If trade it to grow and expand, the report says, it needs to be placed on a modern economic basis with proper banking services and communications facilities. “Whilst restrictions remain in force, traders across the Line of Control are limited to barter and therefore will be unable to fulfil the economic and peace-building potential of the trade,” the report mentions.
The report says it is important to give traders opportunities to make market assessments rather than rely on the current “blind trade” system. “The establishment of five points from which traders on the Indian side can make calls is a positive development, but it limits the trade to those with access to these lines and curtails the involvement of those in rural areas,” the report mentions. “Traders beyond Kashmir in Punjab, Sindh and Gujarat are not limited by these communication difficulties and therefore with their greater linkage and available capital, are able to exert considerable influence on the trade.”
The report says the traders across the LoC need to have a freer access to each other’s markets and two-way telephone communication to strengthen their direct engagement in the trade. “Without compromising security, New Delhi and Islamabad will need to make bold decisions to serve the larger objective of both states from the cross LoC interactions: achieving peace,” it mentions.
The report says that as a central CBM the trade needs to expand well beyond the capacity of two crossing points working two days per week. “There are traditional trade routes that cross the LoC, the opening of which would enhance trade and there are also the routes such as Kargil-Skardu that could be opened to facilitate contacts for divided families,” the report mentions. “And in the due course could create opportunities in trade or services, such as tourism. Similarly the extremely restrictive list of goods eligible for trading should be revised to better reflect the demands and potentials of the markets across LoC.”
‘OWNERSHIP, FINANCE, BANKING’
The report says the current bartering system can only limit trade “It needs to move to a modern transactional basis that allows strategic business planning. Business finance needs to be encouraged to operate in Kashmir. The Joint Chamber and other civil society members have proposed the opening of a branch of J&K Bank in Muzaffarabad and a branch of the AJK Bank in Srinagar. This will pose practical difficulties but has the potential to generate significant benefits. Credit will no doubt continue to be a problem in this underdeveloped economy,” the report says.
“Traders describe as weighty security the apparatus and laborious checks, which slow the trade and also increase costs. Although relaxation of the security regime may be required to expand the trade, it will need to be measured against the security concerns. Modern technology can assist to a certain extent, for instance through the installation of more x-ray and scanning equipment that can speed up and make security checks more thorough,” the report reads.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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End restrictions on communication, goods: Report
Srinagar, Mar 25: A report has underlined that the Cross LoC trade between India and Pakistan has a strong peace-building potential, asserting that it was time to expand it and end the security bottlenecks More