Opening of communication lines with PoK will boost cross-border trade: Omar Abdullah

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Jammu March 19 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday said that telephone lines with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) have been opened to boost cross border trade and address any security concern.

" Let us understand the requirement for these five lines. We started trade with the other side of Kashmir, but we were carrying our trade in the circumstances in which there was neither communication nor banking relation, which made conduct of trade almost impossible. In order to a streamline this process and also remove some loopholes, these lines for communication are now being opened, so this process of trading will get a boost," Abdullah said this after his speech in the assembly during the ongoing budget session.

When asked about possible security threats after the opening up of these telephone lines, he said, " The fact that we are starting with the limited number of five lines is exactly to address any security concern and also to see how it works. As we see the progress of it, we will see at it again".

When asked to comment about the threat of Jamet-ul -Mujahideen to Mufti Bashir-ud-din (Mufte-e-Azam of Kashmir), he said, " We all receive threats from time to time and it is the nature of what we do, the fact of the matter is anytime we express statements like this, somebody or the other is going to be upset. But just because somebody is upset, doesn't mean that we should stop talking."

He further said a total of 35,000 troops have been withdrawn from the state since he took over on January 5 last year.

"About 35,000 soldiers were relocated along with their camps and we did not make any tall claims about it; neither did it affect the situation nor there was any rise in the militancy," he added.

He said that as and when the security situation improves, the army footprint will be decreased.

"We have removed several bunkers in Srinagar and did not allow construction anymore," he said and added that the state police was being brought at the forefront for security duty. By Tahir Nadeem Khan (ANI)

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