ISLAMABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan on Tuesday linked opening of intra-Kashmir border trade with resolution of Kashmir dispute.

“ Intra-Kashmir cross border trade between Srinagar (Occupied Kashmir) and Muzaffarabad (Azad Jamu and Kashmir) is one of the confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. However, in prevailing situation all other CBMs are suspended, then is also no need of intra-Kashmir trade”, he said in a press conference.

The President further said, “There was a humanitarian crisis in the occupied Kashmir as the people there are faced with the shortages of food items and medicines”.

Both sides (India-Pakistan) suspended trade reciprocally which affected traders on both sides who were trading without paying any tariff. This is unregistered trade between the two countries, therefore the volume of trade is not recorded, a local media person told Reporters Diary in a telephonic talk.      

On April 18, 2019, the Indian Government suspended intra-Kashmir trade in a move evoking strong reaction from the traders of both sides who said it would snatch the livelihood.

The notification issued by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the trade was suspended from both Chakothi-Uri and Tetrinote-Chakan da Bagh crossing points because of the alleged misuse of these routes by unnamed elements in Pakistan. This misuse involves inflows of illegal weapons, narcotics and currency, the notification states.

Pakistan suspended the bilateral trade with India from August 9, 2019 also stopped intra-Kashmir trade through Line of Control (LoC), plugging a major loophole of cross border smuggling from India to Pakistan.

Credible sources in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) revealed that there was a serious concern of LOC trade due to smuggling of Indian goods within the territory of tariff areas of Pakistan. The suspension of bilateral trade between India and Pakistan has stopped a major source of smuggling of Indian products into Pakistan.

Prior to this restriction on Indian trade, some unscrupulous elements were involved in this practice and were causing losses to Pakistan exchequers and serving interests of India.

The FBR has no objection in facilitating Kashmiri traders, but this cannot be allowed at the cost of smuggling. After imposition of ban on trade between Pakistan and India, a major source of smuggling has been ended under the cover of LoC trade (Kashmir).

Prior to this ban, the FBR has repeatedly asked the Ministry of Commerce and Textile to draft some policy on trade taking place through Kashmir, but no policy was formed till this suspension of bilateral trade between the two countries.

Some traders were misusing this trade route and were exporting Indian products to avoid customs duty, which otherwise they had to pay while trading these commodities through Wagah border.