Ahead of Asif Ali Zardari's visit, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday made a strong pitch to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Pakistan President to have a fresh look at confidence building measures (CBMs) to boost cross-LoC trade and travel.
"...If this House supports us, it would be good. The Prime Minister and the Pakistan President are meeting in New Delhi in a few days," Omar told the assembly while speaking on questions regarding cross-LoC trade and travel.
"I think a request should be made from this House to them that this CBMs (cross-LoC trade and travel) should be re-looked into -- both these things (communication and banking system for LoC travel and trade)," he said.
On this, speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone asked the members of the House that whether they agreed to the chief minister's suggestion. The members through voice-vote gave their approval to it.
Omar further said "one of the things is to talk to each other (between the people on the two side of LoC) and second, to replace the barter system of trade with other financial terms or letter of credits should be a mechanism for trading".
"Banking arrangements should be there so that the barter system of trading should be closed -- under this system of trading if I will send goods I should get payment and if they send us goods we should pay them," he said.
"We have been repeatedly requesting the Centre to give attention to this important decision during the Indo-Pak talks -- it should not be a CBM for namesake -- it should be a workable CBM on the ground," the chief minister said.
"The cross-LoC trade and travel was the biggest CBM to connect people on the two sides through bus service and trade," he said.
There have been a marked improvement when it comes to the bus service, Omar said.
"But unfortunately there have not been improvement in trade. Where there was need to create infrastructure, we created them. There is still a need to bring more improvement in it," he said.
Omar that said border trade points whether it is in Wagah (on Indo-Pak border) or Nathula (on Sino-India border) are along permanent border, but here (in J&K) the Line of Control cannot be considered as a border and there lies the problem.
The chief minister further said that the biggest problem is the LoC trade is barter system. "We cannot bring betterment in this trade unless and until two major decisions do not take place."
"One, the permission for one-to-one talk on two sides of LoC and second, for trading between the two sides," Omar said, adding that traders of Jammu and Kashmir did not benefit from cross-LoC trade as compared to their counterparts from Pathankot, Amritsar and other cities.