In yet another peace initiative across the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan on Thursday expressed its willingness to allow trade between the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir as proposed by India.
Duty-free trade can be undertaken in a limited number of goods, Pakistan's Commerce Secretary Syed Asif Shah told Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh at a meeting here.
“In my discussions, I raised this issue whether trade can be done through LoC, to which Commerce Secretary Shah’s response was that Pakistan is in favour of duty-free movement of goods through this route for a limited number of items,” Ramesh told reporters.
Ramesh said when he asked whether cross-LoC trade can begin this year, Shah pointed out that certain infrastructure facilities needed to be rebuilt as many bridges had collapsed in the devastating earthquake of October 2005.
India has been pressing Pakistan to allow movement of goods through the LoC, particularly operation of truck service on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus route. Significantly, Pakistan's willingness for cross-LoC trade comes two weeks after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh favoured conversion of the ‘Line of Control’ into a ‘line of peace’ involving freer flow of ideas, goods, services and people.
Ramesh suggested that the cross-LoC commerce could start on the lines of the border trade existing between India and China through Nathula Pass in Sikkim. “If we can open Nathula Pass for trade with China, there is no reason we cannot do it in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.