Trade resumes in troubled Kashmir region

Trade between divided parts of Kashmir tentatively resumed after 40 days of tension.

Trade resumes in troubled Kashmir region

World Bulletin / News Desk

After weeks of suspension, trade between the two divided parts of Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Srinagar - Muzaffarabad route resumed on Wednesday.

However, the tension and bitterness that has gripped the trade route over the past month flared up again when 22 trucks from Indian-held-Kashmir (IHK) returned without unloading their goods, complaining that they were subjected to excessive checking.

Meanwhile, the four trucks from the Pakistani side unloaded their goods in the IHK.

“The trade between the two sides of Kashmir on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road resumed earlier today, following an agreement between the two sides on Monday,” Showket Rather, custodian of LoC trade in IHK told Anadolu Agency (AA).

He said that trade resumed at around 11.30 am, when 22 trucks from the IHK crossed over the Salamabad bridge into the Pakistan held Kashmir (PHK) side, while four trucks from the Pakistan side crossed into the IHK.

Sources in the government told AA that the trucks from the Indian side were subjected to excessive frisking in the PHK, which would have caused damage to the perishable goods. As a result they returned without unloading their goods.

“There were trucks carrying bananas, water-melons, pineapples and chilli seed and the way they were checked would have damaged the fruit. So the Pakistani traders, for whom the goods were sent, refused to go through the process and asked the drivers to take their goods back. So the 22 trucks from our side returned with their goods intact,” a senior government official in IHK told the AA.

Showket Rather confirmed that the trucks from IHK returned without unloading their goods but refused to divulge any details.

Trade was suspended on January 17, after Indian authorities claimed to have recovered 114 kilos of narcotics from a goods truck coming from the PHK.

The recovery was made at Salamabad check post in Uri of Baramulla district, IHK, around 120 northwest of capital city, Srinagar.

Indian police arrested the Pakistani driver and Pakistan called the arrest a conspiracy to sabotage the trade, while demanding the driver’s release.

They detained the 27 Kashmiri truck drivers from the IHK who had crossed over to the Pakistani side to unload their goods. India responded by holding up 48 Pakistani trucks along with the drivers.

Several rounds of talks between high-level Kashmiri officials on both sides have failed to break the thaw and reach an agreement.

The stalemate was finally resolved on February 12 when senior officials of the foreign offices of India and Pakistan reached an agreement on the resumption of trade.

The trade was started in 2008 and was called as one of the biggest confidence building measures (CBMs) to create conducive atmosphere between the two nuclear powers.

After the agreement, drivers from both side were allowed to return to their respective sides with their trucks.

The Indian police refused to release the arrested driver and said that he would be subjected to the due course of law. Although the officials from the two sides agreed to resume travel services two weeks ago, the trade remained suspended till Wednesday.

Showket Rather told AA that three trucks were expected to come from the Pakistani side tomorrow, and eight would cross from the Indian side.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. The two countries have fought three full-fledged wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.

Last Mod: 27 Şubat 2014, 10:10
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