Trans-LoC TFOs Meet Ends In Deadlock

Trans-LoC TFOs Meet Ends In Deadlock

19 September 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: A meeting of trans-Line of Control (LoC) Trade Facilitation Officers (TFOs) held at Aman Setu on the LoC in Uri for resuming the suspended trade ended in a deadlock today. The Pakistan side at the trans-LoC TFOs’ meeting was represented by Director General of LoC Trade Pakistan, Brigadier (retired) Ismael Khan and Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO) for Salamabad-Chakoti trade of Pakistan, Basharat Awan while Indian side was represented by TFO Ghulam Hassan Reshi and TFO Avtar Singh. The meeting was conducted on Aman Setu at zero line in which both the sides raised their issues relating to the trans-LoC trade. The meeting was held so as to resume the trade that has been suspended after strike by the traders. The trade was suspended by the traders after Customs officials at Aman Setu disallowed trading of non-Jammu and Kashmir items. The Customs officials at Aman Setu returned the Pakistani mangoes last week saying that the product is not being grown in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and can’t be traded through LoC trade. Earlier, they had said no to trading of some items that are not produced in Jammu and Kashmir but are being traded through trans-LoC trade at Aman Setu. Sources said that the Pakistani TFO Basharat Awan told his Indian counterpart Reshi that if the trade is to be continued then the minor issues are to be ignored. Sources said that Awan asked Reshi that if he wants resumption of trade then the trade of the non-local items is to be allowed by the both sides. Awan told his Indian counterpart that both the sides are trading non-local items through LoC trade and if the trade is to be continued then both the sides have to allow non-local products otherwise the trade will not continue. Sources said that the next meeting of the TFOs has been slated for Saturday and Awan has told his Indian counterpart to come with the full mandate to the next meeting so that the issues are resolved and trade is resumed. It may be mentioned here that coconut was the major item that was being traded to PoK from Kashmir through LoC trade. But last year the Central Government banned the trading of coconut on the grounds that it was a non-local product. However, several non-local products including bananas continued to be traded from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad despite they being non-local products. Similarly Pakistan has been trading non-local products like apple, almonds and mangoes through LoC trade but last week mangoes were returned by the Indian Customs officials. The General Secretary of Salamabad-Chakoti Traders Union (SCTU), Hilal Turkey, who early this month announced suspension of the trans-LoC trade says that State and Central Governments are creating hurdles in the conduct of the trade. Turkey claimed that due to bottlenecks the number of traders that were 600 at the beginning of the trans-LoC trade, are now less than 50. He said that Customs officials are permitting trade of only Muzaffarabad or Jammu and Kashmir based products. “Since only two trade-able items are produced in Muzaffarabad and as per CBMs, 21 items are to be traded from Pakistan side,” Turkey said. He said if the non-local items are not allowed then trade will not long last.