Srinagar: More crossing points are expected to be opened on the Line of Control (LoC) for greater movement of people and goods to and fro Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and banking system is likely to be introduced for trade, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said here today.
“The state government has taken up the matter regarding opening of more cross-LoC points with the Centre and I am sure there will be positive movement forward on the issue as serious discussions are on in this regard,” Mehbooba informed the Legislative Council.
She said during her recent meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, she had pitched for opening of Suchetgarh-Sialkote, Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit, Chhamb-Jourian and some other cross-LoC routes in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I am hopeful that, if not all at a time, one or two at a time will be opened, so that we can send Basmati from Jammu to there,” the Chief Minister said while intervening during the reply to a question regarding the measures taken by the Government to expand the ambit of cross-LoC travel and trade.
She said the confidence building measures like opening of more cross-LoC points will not only help consolidate peace efforts but also boost local economy through increased tourism activities in these areas.
Giving examples of items which can be traded, Mehbooba said Pakistan has no hardware industry while Jammu has a hardware industry and the state can benefit from the export of such material.
“Nothing is manufactured there (in Pakistan). They import everything including big cars. From a needle to an airplane, they import everything. But if the road is opened, it will benefit us. The same way, if Kargil-Skardu route is opened, we can go to central Asia via that road,” she said.
“We are working on it with seriousness and I am hopeful that in the time to come, something will happen on one or two routes,” she said.
Mehbooba said the Centre has also agreed to facilitate banking facility for the cross-LoC trade to institutionalize the existing mechanism.
“The trade that is going on, is based on the barter system. Now, a proposal has come from the central government that RBI is proposing to introduce banking facility in which trade will be done in dollars and perhaps neither our currency nor theirs will be used.
“We received the proposal and after discussing it in the cabinet, it has been sent back. So, I am hopeful that something will happen on that,” she said.