Intra-Kashmir Trade Volume To Grow

24 May 2009
Pakistan Observer

Islamabad: Seeing genuine enthusiasm in traders communities on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir, respective authorities have agreed to increase the intra-Kashmir trade volume, reports said. Under a bilateral accord reached between President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Premier Manmohan Singh in New York on September 26, 2008, both Pakistan and India had allowed intra-Kashmir trade which went operational on October 21, 2008. The present operative trade routes are Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Poonch (IHK)-Rawalakot. Since its start the barter intra-Kashmir trade thus far has crossed the monetary volume of over Rs.40 million per week. The items included in the expandable trade list are local Kashmiri farm products and handicrafts. However the Peshawari chappal, being an easy footwear, is much demanded in occupied Kashmir. Similarly the Kashmir saffron is a needed item in Pakistan via AJK. On Poonch-Rawalakot route the number of trade trucks from each, AJK and IHK, would increase from current 20 to 80 (40 from each side)per week, while on Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route the present 20 trucks strength would go up to 50 trucks. Traders from each side view the intra-Kashmir trade as first brick to build domestic economy of the State, but their persist demand is to inject banking system in this trade to facilitate more the current barter transactions. Upto mid-August 1947 the only trading routes and roads available to the now-occupied Kashmir products were the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad-Rawalpindi, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad-Abbottabad highways, and Sialkot-Suchetgarh road and railyway tract. However the Indian occupation of Kashmir on October 27, 1947 dealt the death blow to the trade outlets of Kashmir.