India, Pak Mull Ways To Ease J&K-PoK Travel

India, Pak Mull Ways To Ease J&K-PoK Travel

19 July 2012
The Tribune


New Delhi: India and Pakistan are understood to have discussed ways to ease travel between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) at a meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on cross-LoC confidence building measures (CBMs) held today. Officials from the two countries met in Islamabad in pursuance of the decision taken at the Foreign Secretary level talks in New Delhi earlier this month. The Indian delegation was led by YK Sinha, Joint Secretary (PAI) in the External Affairs Ministry while the Pakistan side was headed by Zehra Akbari, Director General (South Asia) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A joint statement issued by the two sides said the meeting was held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere. It said the two sides reviewed the progress since the last meeting of the JWG and discussed modalities for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC. They also discussed modalities for introducing additional cross-LoC CBMs. The two countries currently have several CBMs to facilitate travel by bus and trade at several points along the LoC. However, the present arrangement has been found far from satisfactory by the people on both sides of the border. India and Pakistan have worked out a revised visa accord which is expected to be signed when External Affairs Minister S M Krishna visits Islamabad in early September. The two countries are working out the dates for Krishna's visit. India has proposed September 7-9 for the visit while Pakistan says it is prepared to host the Indian minister any time between September 4 and September 9. The meeting of the JWG on cross LoC-CBMs was held two days after the first meeting of the India-Pakistan expertsí group on trade in petroleum and petrochemical products in New Delhi. The Pakistani side was led by Shabbir Ahmad, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources while the Indian side as led by Vivek Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The two sides are learnt to have decided to explore the possibility of opening a new railway route in Rajasthan and use the present railway and land routes to transport petrol, diesel and other petroleum products. India is also believed to have impressed upon Pakistan the need to allow transportation of petrol and diesel through the land route and also proposed building decided pipelines to the nearest point on the border to enable smooth movement of petroleum products. Strengthening CBMs * The two countries currently have several CBMs to facilitate travel by bus and trade at several points along the LoC * However, the present arrangement has been found far from satisfactory by the people on both sides of the border * A meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on cross-LoC confidence building measures was held on Thursday. It discussed modalities for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC