‘Tragic Victims’ Of LoC Trade Still Stranded

‘Tragic Victims’ Of LoC Trade Still Stranded

25 January 2014
Kashmir Life


Srinagar: The 49 truck drivers, who are the residents of divided Kashmir, were on a routine job dropping goods across the Line of Control (LoC) between Pakistan and India when they were left stranded early this month. For more than a week, they have been stuck in the middle of a row that reflects the difficulty in boosting regional ties through trade. Last Friday, police along the treacherous mountain road leading between the two sides seized a truck and arrested its driver after 114 kilogrammes of heroin was found concealed in a consignment of almonds. Pakistani authorities then refused to let the trucks in the convoy, back unless the arrested man was returned. They detained 27 trucks and their drivers, who had crossed over on the same day to deliver goods as part of a barter trade agreement that was started as a “confidence-building measure” in 2008. Huddled inside a hall at the Trade Facilitation Centre in Salamabad, 115 kilometres from Srinagar, drivers from Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) are reportedly watching Bollywood films cable TV, though becoming “a tragic movie” themselves. Trade between the neighbours jumped 36 percent to $2.6 billion in 2013, according to the Indian Department of Commerce. While the diplomats in New Delhi wrangle over the hold-up in, the drivers from the PaK and this side of Kashmir and their families in either side are suffering like anything.