Working Group for more travel points, trade across LoC
18 August 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: The Prime Minister’s Working Group on strengthening relations across the Line of Control will look into the possibility of easing formalities for cross-LoC travel. 'The Governments at the Centre and in the State do not have any problems on increasing the number of people crossing the LoC,' Group-II Chairman, M K Rasgotra told reporters here after a meeting to discuss ways and means of improving relations with people in PoK. The Group will look into the easing of formalities for cross-LoC travel, he said adding we will discuss measures that will help in improving relations between people across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Rasgotra said the group will discuss issues related to cross-LoC bus services, easing travel, opening more crossing points and starting trade between the two sides of Kashmir. The group will also discuss modalities for starting trade and how to deal with the Government of Pakistan or the administration of its occupied Kashmir. He said the impression that India is creating impediments in starting trade across LoC is wrong. 'Some people have the impression that India is creating impediments in starting trade activity across LoC which is wrong. We have submitted a list of 70 traders six months ago but Pakistan has just given its list of 30 to 40 traders,' he said. Rasgotra said the group will also discuss the list of goods that can be exported to PoK and the list of goods that can be imported from there. 'We will also look into who will send the goods and who will receive them'. The group has been given six months to submit its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad which would be done by December. The group headed by Rasgotra is one of the five Working Groups formed after an announcement by the Prime Minister during the second Roundtable Conference on July 25 for resolution of the Kashmir issue. The members of this group include Tariq Hamid Qarra, Minister for Housing, Haji Nissar Ali, Minister for Social Welfare, Prof Bhim Singh, MLC, Mian Altaf Ahmad, MLA, Abdul Gani Vakil, MLC, Qazi Mehboob Illahi, Advocate, Prof Ashok Aima, Ghulam Nabi Malik of CPM and Mohd Yousuf Bhat of CPI. Besides, the members— Financial Commissioner Coordination, Ajit Kumar, Commissioner Secretary general Administration Department, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai and Maj Gen ( Retd) Afsar Karim ( expert) also participated in today’s meeting of the Working Group. Meanwhile, PDP leader and Minister, Mr Qarra, who represented the party at today’s meeting, told media persons at the conclusion of the meeting that he suggested exchange of visits by the legislators and other people’s representatives from parts of Jammu and Kashmir to promote free exchange of views and ideas and discuss areas of mutual interest and concern. For greater people-to people contact, PDP is of the opinion that there should be frequent exchange of media-persons, cultural troupes, students, trade delegations and promotion of pilgrim tourism, Qarra maintained. The Minister said that he suggested that the Old Silk route connecting the sub-continent with the Central Asia be rechristened as Gas Route and gas pipes be laid throughout the region via Jammu and Kashmir. He also advocated for expanding people to people contact via Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads, besides promoting trade through these roads and other routes as well.