Cross-LoC trade to resume tomorrow

Cross-LoC trade to resume tomorrow

Baramulla: Officials from India and Pakistan have decided to resume from Thursday the cross-LoC trade which was suspended a month ago after deadlock over the arrest of a trucker from Pakistan on charges of allegedly smuggling narcotics into the Valley.
The decision to resume trade was taken at a high level meeting between officials from the two countries at Kaman Post in Uri sector here on Tuesday, officials told Kashmir Reader.
While Showkat Ahmad, Liaison Officer, Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre, and  Avtar Singh, Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO) represented this side of Kashmir, the Pakistani side was represented by Basharat Ahmad, TFO, Chakoti.
“During the one-hour meeting, the two sides agreed to resume the trade. This week, trade will be done on two days from Thursday, while from the next week it will be conducted (as per routine) for four days,” said Liaison Officer, Showkat, adding that the meeting was held in a cordial manner.
The officials said it was also decided that all trucks and commodities coming from each other’s either side will be thoroughly checked.
Chairman, Salamabad-Chakoti Trade Union (SCTU), Mohammad Arif Lone welcomed the decision but expressed apprehensions over the smooth functioning of the trade. He said he has learnt that protests have been held in Chakoti demanding release of the detained Pak driver.
“Uncertainty is looming large over the trade. Last year also, the trade was suspended for sometime due to which we suffered heavy losses. Thousands of people are associated with the trade, and a small misunderstanding between the two sides leaves the trade in lurch,” Lone added.
Last month, on January 17, the cross-LoC trade hit a major roadblock after police detained a trucker from Pakistan-administered Kashmir Mohammad Shafiq Awan, of Muzaffarabad, for allegedly carrying brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore into the Valley.  A day later, Pak officials detained 27 Kashmiri drivers at Chakoti across the LoC demanding release of their detained driver. The standoff not only left the 27 Kashmiri drivers stranded at Chakoti and 48 Pak drivers at Salamabad but also led to the temporary suspension of cross-LoC bus service.
However, the deadlock ended on Thursday last, after Indo-Pak officials reached an agreement to allow the stranded drivers to return to their respective destinations.

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