The seven decade old history of relationships between India and Pakistan is full of The Seven decade old history of relationships between India and Pakistan is full of confrontation, violence & animosity. And while people in both the countries have been adversely affected by these strained relationships, people of Jammu and Kashmir have been the worst hit lot.
Amid such times, an initiative to bring people from the two sides of the Line of Control (LoC) together, seemed to be an utopian idea. Not many had imagined that people from one side of divided Jammu & Kashmir could travel to and trade with other side.
But with opening of Uri-Muzaffarabad and ChakaN Da Bagh-Poonch routes, we saw the unthinkable happen. It facilitated coming together of divided families and initiating and strengthening the trade ties between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
As such, cross LoC travel that started in 2005 and trade that started in 2008 are deservingly termed as the mother of all confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan.
But since its inception, the run has never been smooth for the initiative. Both the travel as well as has been suspended Several times . Most of the times, while the escalation along LoC would trigger such suspensions, we eventually saw the same trade and travel paving way for tempers to cool on both sides. In recent times, this escalation has almost became a recurring event and has had undesirable impact on cross LoC travel.
Many people have been stranded in Pooch area as no travel has been allowed along Chakan Da Bagh route for many days now. The stranded passengers who were to return to the other side and have been stranded would now be returning through Uri-Muzaffarabad route.
Cross LoC trade in particular faced many challenges, with vested interests trying to create a situation for complete closure of the services. The instances wherein narcotics were seized from the trucks that were originally meant to carry goods on the trade route have widely been seen as an attempt to discredit and malign trade service.
On 21st of July this year, a huge consignment of Narcotics being smuggled into Kashmir valley through Cross LoC trade in Uri was seized by authorities from a truck coming from the other side.
Recently, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has asserted that the cross LoC route is being used by certain elements to fund militancy and unrest in the state and has reportedly recommended the closure of trade.
Whether it be cross LoC trade or travel, both the initiatives are facing serious challenges from the detractors of this huge CBM. It is time that the same be strengthened and turned into facilitators of harmony rather than acrimony between the two sides.