India has suspended cross-LoC trade with Pakistan over the issue of Pakistan using the trade routes in order to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency. The Centre will review its decision to suspend trade across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir through two trade facilitation centres, Salamabad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, District Poonch after putting in place a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism. Cross-LoC trade is meant to ensure exchange of goods of common use between local populations on the two sides of the LoC. However, Pakistan has clearly misused the trade route with ulterior motives.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced suspension of Cross-LoC trade after receiving inputs about the misuse of Cross-LoC trade. As per a MHA statement, “This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.” The statement further read, “it has, therefore, been decided by the Government of India to suspend the LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect. Meanwhile, a stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies. The issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter.” The statement added, “Inputs have also been received that in order to evade the consequent higher duty, LoC trade is likely to be misused to a much larger extent.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probed the Cross-LoC trade. It found that items of trade were under and over-invoiced which created a huge surplus that is used to evoke protests in the valley. It is therefore clear that Pakistan is using Cross-LoC trade to foment terrorism in the valley.
The move obviously led to sharp political reactions even as the Modi-baiters and Pakistan sympathisers in the Indian political spectrum blamed the Modi government for deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan. PDP chief, Mehbooba Mufti went on to say, “Using Kashmir as a scapegoat to claw its way to power won’t help BJP. This is an excuse to worsen ties with Pakistan despite their peace overtures. By doing this PM Modi has dismantled a CBM (confidence building measure) initiated by Vajpayee ji . Won’t be surprised if an attack on Pak is in the offing.” Omar Abdullah also blamed the BJP government for this development.
It is beyond comprehension how the Indian government can be held responsible in this case. Pakistan was misusing the Cross-LoC trade routes and in such a case, believing such bilateral trade to be a confidence building measure amounts to intellectual bankruptcy. The Indian government has finally taken the correct approach and some people are clearly finding it hard to digest this fact. Pakistan doesn’t deserve any kind of friendly relations with India. The very idea of Pakistan’s existence is to destabilise India and therefore any move at establishing friendly ties with Pakistan is bound to prove counter-productive.