The Pakistan Foreign Office on Sunday rejected all the accusations by the government of India that the cross-LoC trade is being used for “smuggling, narcotics, and fake currency.”
On Thursday, the Indian government had suspended the cross-LoC trade between Pakistan administered Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir, in a move that evoked strong reactions from traders who feared the decision could force them into destitution.
Azaj Ahmed Meer, an office-bearer of the traders in Chakothi, told Dawn that at least 1,200 traders and hundreds of other workers were associated with the activity on both sides of the LoC “who will now be economically devastated if the decision is not reversed”.
“The Indian action is based on groundless accusations that this mechanism is being used for smuggling, narcotics, fake currency and ‘terrorism’,” Dawn quoted PFO spokesman as saying.
According to the office, this “litany” is all too familiar and in line with New Delhi’s frequent attempts to portray legitimate activities of the people in Jammu and Kashmir as linked to the so-called “terrorism”, the report mentioned.
The statement added that the cross-LoC trade has been one of the functional Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between the two countries, which came about after arduous diplomatic efforts.
“The unilateral suspension of this Kashmir-related CBM indicates that India is seeking to reverse even the modest gains made by the two countries in the diplomatic domain. “Its suspension without consulting Pakistan is deeply regrettable,” the report quoted PFO as saying.
The PFO called for the restoration of the trade and urged India to refrain from taking unilateral measures. It also asked for resolving differences through constructive engagement with a view to transitioning from conflict to cooperation, Dawn reported.
Earlier, Home Ministry of India ordered the suspension of cross-LoC trade via Salamabad (Uri) and Chakan-da-Bagh (Poonch) routes.
“The Govt of India has received reports that cross LoC trade routes being misused by Pakistan based elements. The misuse involves illegal inflows of weapons, narcotics & fake currency etc,” said the MHA, in an order.
The order said the cross-LoC trade mechanism is therefore suspended till a stricter regulatory regime is put in place.
“This is to ensure that only bonafide trade takes place, for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through this mechanism,” reads the order issued by MHA.