Centre finds fault with Pak for delay in cross-LoC trade

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (UNI) Blaming Pakistan for the delay in starting the proposed Srinagar-Muzaffarabad truck service to facilitate cross-LoC trade with the neighbour, India today said it has been 'assiduously' pursuing the matter and has even suggested further cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

In a statement, the Centre rubbished the statements issued by some leaders in Jammu and Kashmir demanding the opening of the route to Muzaffarabad for trade to overcome the impact of the alleged 'economic blockade" of the Kashmir valley, and said "elements opposed to normalisation of situation in Jammu and Kashmir are misguiding the people." ''India is ready to commence cross-LOC trade, but awaits Pakistani willingness to implement the agreement reached in April 2005.'' The government asked the people in Jammu and Kashmir, and particularly the Kashmir Valley, not to allow themselves to be influenced by misleading propaganda, and in that context, not to allow themselves to get involved in activities which have disrupted the peace and normalcy of the State.

''An effort has been made by some elements to try and project that there have been delays on the part of the Government in the process of commencement of cross LoC trade. But the facts are otherwise,'' the statement said, while listing out the serious initiatives taken by the government in this regard.

The government said it had taken the initiative to facilitate travel of persons across the LoC along the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes as a part of the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan, and Confidence Building Measures. It had also been making efforts to increase the frequency of the bus travel.

''To build further on these initiatives, as early as on 15 April 2005, it had been agreed with Pakistan that truck services across the LoC would also be initiated to promote trade.'' In May 2006 in the Working Group on Cross LOC CBMs, both sides exchanged indicative lists of goods for trade. It was agreed that the delegations from Chambers of Commerce from either side of the LoC would undertake visits at the earliest to discuss various aspects of the trade. It was also agreed to start the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad truck service to facilitate cross-LOC trade in the first half of July 2006.

''Our list of 80 businessmen to visit was given to Pakistan in May 2006. However, visits by Chambers of Commerce have still not occurred in the absence of Pakistani clearance," the statement said.

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