Indo-Pak trade via Kaman Bridge by month’s end
* India mulling over offshore oil exploration with Pakistan
SIALKOT: India and Pakistan will establish trade links across the Line of Control (LoC) by the end of September when the first consignment will be moved via the Kaman Bridge linking both Kashmirs.
“If all goes well, the first exchange of goods will take place between both Kashmirs by the end of September,” an Indian official told IANS. The move to establish the link was announced at the talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries in Islamabad last week. Notes will be exchanged with Pakistan and a mutually agreed formula will be adopted, which will be more or less on the lines of trade that has started across Wagah border in the Punjab.
The goods will be loaded and unloaded on either side of Kaman Bridge along the 170-kilometre Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road and then ferried to the other side by porters, as is the practice at Wagah border. “Security will be taken care of,” the official examining methods to open trade said. “All goods will be X-rayed and, if needed, will be physically inspected as well,” he added. An official team will visit Kaman Bridge next week to “study the logistics and other details at the bridge”.
The bridge was first opened for civilian traffic on April 7 when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged off a bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad, reopening the road between the two cities.
Officials said the team would study all aspects of the trade. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is keen to send Kashmiri apples to Pakistan via this route. Encouraged by the move, fruit growers and merchants have started making arrangements for selling Kashmiri fruits to Pakistan via Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Ram Sahai praised the resumption of trade across the LoC, calling it a landmark decision that would help not only the business community, but also enhance people-to-people contact between both Kashmirs and also between India and Pakistan. “It is a big confidence-building measure for all of us”, he added. Separately, Indian Petroleum Secretary Sushil Chand Tripathy has said India was deliberating on offshore oil exploration with Pakistan. He said India had the technology and geologist and could assist Pakistan in offshore oil exploration, Geo reported on Sunday. agencies