The Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called upon the governments of India and Pakistan to promote trade across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir by easing restrictions on travel, communication and meeting of traders, expanding the list of trade-able items, and setting up the necessary infrastructure to support the trade.
Joint Chamber members from both sides of the LoC came together to make this appeal at their annual General body meeting in Kuala Lumpur where they signed a landmark agreement on reforms within the Chamber, transition of leadership and a democratic electoral process. The meeting was facilitated by Conciliation Resources, a London based peace building organization, and its regional partners. The meeting of the Joint Chamber was held in Malaysia since a delegation of members has been unable to travel across the LOC owing to procedural constraints. Ershad Mahmud and Zafar Choudhary have been mandated to facilitate the elections as Election Commissioners on either side of the LoC respectively.
The Joint Chamber expressed serious concern about the latest standoff on cross LOC trade. While deploring the misuse of cross LOC trade routes by certain elements acting contrary to the spirit and purpose of this historical CBM, the Joint Chamber appealed to the Indian and Pakistan governments to resolve the standoff in a speedy and transparent manner according to the Standard Operating Procedure governing this trade. A thorough probe should be conducted and the results shared with the concerned stakeholders. The Joint Chamber also urged the Pakistani and Indian authorities to immediately facilitate the return of stranded drivers.
The members desired that the Joint Chamber be part of the clearance process for registering traders on both sides of the LOC. Members reiterated the urgency of installing truck scanners at entry points for cross LoC trade. Members expressed their strong support for the process of cross-LOC trade as a confidence building measure (CBM), promoting peace amongst the various regions of Jammu and Kashmir as well as between India and Pakistan.
The Joint Chamber is the first ever institution of cross-LOC collaboration. It includes representatives of chambers of commerce, elected business entities and cross-LoC trade associations and unions connected with trade across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.