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India Pakistan border trade resumes

Trade across the LoC operates on a barter system, where no money is exchanged

Wednesday March 6, 2019 10:01 AM, ummid.com & Agencies

India Pakistan Trade

Srinagar: India and Pakistan Tuesday resumed barter trade at a border crossing in Kashmir, an Indian official said, but tension in the contested region continued with a general strike and more fighting between Indian security forces and separatists.

Hostilities between the nuclear-armed neighbors escalated dramatically late last month, after an Indian air strike on what it said was a militant group that carried out a suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14.

Trade across the Line of Control (LoC), was part-suspended after repeated mortar and small arms fire at Uri, a border town where the exchange of goods takes place, according to news agency Reuters.

"Thirty-five trucks left for Chakothi on the Pakistani side of the border with a similar number moving in the opposite direction after the route re-opened on Tuesday", said Riyaz Ahmad Malik, an official in Kashmir.

Trade across the LoC operates on a barter system, where no money is exchanged. The trade based on this system, first introduced in October 2008, takes place between the two sides four days a week from Tuesday to Friday.

“This trade is heavily dependent on the trust factor. We neither meet traders of Pakistan nor can check the quality of the imported goods until they reach us", said Pawan Anand, president of a local trading association in Kashmir.

Ashfaq Ahmad, a trader in Srinagar said that he quotes rates on WhatsApp with his Pakistani counterpart.

“I send cumin and chili seeds to Pakistan and in return order prayer mats and cloth. If there is any difference, it is adjusted in the next consignment. It is all trust-based trade but it is working", he said.

Indian traders export cumin, chili pepper, cloth, cardamom, bananas, pomegranate, grapes and almonds. Prayer mats, carpets, cloth, oranges, mangos and herbs return from the Pakistani side.

Tension between India and Pakistan intensified after a terrorist attack in Pulwama district of Kashmir in which more than 45 CRPF troopers were killed. Hours after the terror attack, India withdrew 'Most Favoured Nation' status from Pakistan affecting businesses across India-Pakistan's Attari border. According to reports, more than 200 trucks were parked at Attari border at that time.

Tension between the two neighboring countries escalated even further after Indian Air Force (IAF) jets conducted airstrikes in Balakot - deep inside Pakistan. India called the airstrikes "non-military pre-imptive" operation on February 26. Pakistan however retaliated with airstrikes of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets in the Indian territories the following day. Pakistan also captured an IAF pilot who was later released.

However, according to PTI, the cross-LoC trade via Chakan-da-Bagh Wednesday - a day after the IAF jet fighters bombed Balakot, saw 50 goods laden trucks crossing the LoC, custodian Fareed Kohli of the LoC trade centre at Poonch. He said while 34 Indian goods trucks went to PoK, 16 trucks arrived here from the other side.

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