Line Of Control Becomes Line Of Commerce

21 October 2008
The Indian Express


Chakan-Da-Bagh: Barely weeks ago, a demand for opening the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad trade route and attempts to march to the Line of Control had led to violent clashes across the Valley. But it was very different today at the Peace Bridge. The moment the first truck carrying goods from Muzaffarabad rolled in, there was applause all around and slogans rent the air. Because this bridge on the Line of Control, which divides and connects the two parts of Kashmir, was now the Line of Commerce, kickstarting trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road after a gap of six decades. Similar scenes were witnessed at Chakan-da-Bagh crossing when three trucks from Poonch hit the road to Rawalakot, scripting a new chapter in Indo-Pak ties. “Ever since my childhood, I have been waiting for this moment,” said Mazhar Naqvi, a trader from Muzaffarabad who drove the first truck carrying rice and spices. “It is impossible to express the happiness”. As Kashmiri traders surrounded his truck and tried to shake his hand, Naqvi was overcome with emotion: “Everyone in our part of Kashmir is happy to see the beginning of trade, we wish this continues always. It is trade between two brothers, two parts of one Kashmir.” Mubeen Shah, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) who led a delegation to the Peace Bridge, said: “Today, it is a symbolic beginning. But I am sure we will manage to break all impediments and make this trade a reality for future generations.”