Islamabad: Hailing as a “significant event” the restoration of the cross-LoC trade after a gap of over 60 years, Pakistani traders on Tuesday said it would boost business with India and increase people-to-people contacts.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former President Pervez Musharraf had a vision of making borders irrelevant. One of the ways of making borders irrelevant is to soften them and this move has to be viewed in that context,” Amin Hashwani, President of the Pakistan-India CEOs Business Forum, said.
Two trucks packed with goods from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) crossed the Aman Setu (Peace Bridge) from Chakoti town to launch the trade from the Pakistani side.
PoK Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who flagged off the trucks, called for an increase in the frequency of cross-LoC bus services and the inclusion of more items in the list for trade between the two parts of Kashmir.
Hashwani said the launch of trans-LoC trade was a “very significant event in symbolical terms” though the actual business being conducted would not be worth very much.
“It is a good beginning and should be seen positively but more steps are needed to take the process forward. The trade will increase people-to-people contacts and give a sense of hope to Kashmiris on both sides,” he said.
However, there are other challenges, like the restrictive visa regime and trade restrictions on both sides, that need to be overcome, he added.
If India and Pakistan allowed investments, it would create a “vested interest to maintain peace between the two countries”, he said.