JK: Trade through Jehlum valley road soon

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Srinagar, Sep 17: Despite being in the ''negative list of commodities'' in the SAARC charter, Kashmiri fruit was included in the list of commodities to be exported through Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

Trade on the route, which remained suspended since 1947, will start soon, this assurance was given to External Affairs minister Pranab Mukharjee to Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Saifuddin Soz.

A statement mailed by Mr Soz said a high-level meeting last night at New Delhi cleared Kashmir fruit in the list of commodities to be exported from Kashmir.

It said soon after it became known that Kashmir fruit did not figure in the list of articles to be exported through this route, Mr Soz who is also Union Minister of Water Resources took up the matter with Mr Mukharjee.

He said during meeting he put forth the argument that trade on this route would be meaningless unless Kashmir fruit was accepted as an essential item in the list.

However, he was told that the initial exclusion of Kashmir fruit was due to the fact that fruit happens to be in the ''negative list of commodities'' in the SAARC charter.

Prof Soz said the meeting late was attended by the Foreign Secretary and Secretary Commerce.

He said that Mr Mukharjee, who is vigorously following the matter regarding Cross-LOC trade on Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad route with Pakistan, assured him last evening that the movement of goods on this route would start soon.

Mr Mukharjee said other facilities related to trade would also be streamlined in due course of time.

Recently, a number of fruit growers and traders organisation have expressed concern over the non inclusion of the fruit in the list of items being exported through Jehlum Valley road.

The Coordination Committee (CC) spearheading the present agitation in Kashmir among other things also demanded trade with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) through this route.

A symbolic attempt to cross over to Muzaffar, capital of POK was made in August when thousands of people marched towards border.

However, security forces and police opened fire to stop them, resulting in the death of several persons, including senior Hurriya leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz.


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