Salamabad (J-K), Sept 9 : A high-level Central Government team comprising of senior officers from Union Ministries of External, Home and Finance inspected the facilities for trade with Pakistan through the Kashmir valley recently.
The team accompanied by senior officers of State Government and military commanders visited the Kaman Post, last point on the Indian side on the Line of Control (LoC) and the upcoming land customs station at Salamabad near the Uri border town in Baramulla District in Jammu and Kashmir.
The team had an elaborate inspection of the facilities already created at Salamabad for conducting the proposed duty-free trans-LoC trade between the two parts of divided Kashmir.
The visit comes after people in Kashmir valley demanded to open cross-border commerce links following protests over the Amarnath land row and subsequent alleged blockade of Jammu Srinagar national highway, the only motorable road link to the valley.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary S. S. Kapur told ANI that as part of government's move to begin cross-LoC trade next month, a delegation from Pakistan will visit Jammu and Kashmir soon to finalise modalities for the trade via the LoC.
He said India had given clearance for Pakistani trade delegation's visit, adding the list of items to be traded on both sides had already been exchanged.
Kapur said India had also forwarded to Pakistan the names of its delegation to visit Pakistan administered Kashmir, but this was yet to be cleared by the neighbouring country.
"Two years ago we gave clearance to a list given by POK chamber but that didn't materialize. Similarly, we sent them a list for which they couldn't give clearance. Now, it is felt that governments on both sides will take initiatives in this regard and the long kept wish of the people to have trade with each other will begin. As far as government of the Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, the Governor has given clear instruction that whatever help the State Government is required to provide for facilitating the trade should be rendered," Kapur said.
The Federation Chamber of Industries in Kashmir valley felt that trade between the two parts of Kashmir should be free from all modalities.
"This trade is to be between two parts of Kashmir and if the import export policies of India and Pakistan are followed here, then the whole idea is defeated, and the modalities of the trade have not been spelled out," Shakeel Qalander, president FCI Kashmir.
Trade between India and Pakistan jumped four fold from 235 million dollar in 2001-02 to cross one billion dollar for the first time in the financial year April 2005-March 2006.
While Pakistan's exports to India touched 300 million dollar, its imports from India swelled to 802 million dollar during the period.