The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had recently suggested New Delhi to close the trade with Pakistan from the Line of Control on the grounds that such routes are used by the inimical elements of peace to smuggle opium, drugs and other illegal items.
They have also observed in their suggestions that some elements in the trade are using the barter trade for anti national and anti social activities in the country, hence the system of barter trade shall be closed.
Apparently the New Delhi is mulling over the suggestions of premier investigating agency and may consider of taking certain measures which can result in discouraging the barter trade between two sides. But the ramifications of suspending trade could be of far reaching consequences. In fact the state’s Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday during her Party’s raising day function in Srinagar suggested New Delhi not to think of suspending the trade, the initiative taken when her party was in government in 2008 with Congress and her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had pleaded the case with New Delhi.
The Chief Minister said that even if someone is committing a mistake that shall not warrant the closure of trade and in fact the security mechanism needs to be upgraded. When the cross LoC trade was started in 2008 during the regime of PDP-Congress in State, it was more about the Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s) less about the economic step.
After the successful launch of bus service in 2003 between the two sides for the relatives of divided Kashmir, the then government in New Delhi led by Congress took the trade as second step of CBM to reduce the level of trust deficit and ongoing hostilities between two sides. It has stayed as the most successful CBM among all despite many highs and lows between India and Pakistan.
The trade many times was suspended for certain reasons but was never called off by the successive regimes knowing its significance for the two hostile countries. It has also bridged the gap between two divided parts of Kashmir and brought them little more closer to each other. The initiatives between the two neighbouring countries needs to be further strengthened and more such routes need to be opened.
The trade and bus service between the two sides of Kashmir has been a bridge for India and Pakistan. New Delhi must strengthen the security apparatus at the crossing and trading points without compromising its national security. Closure of trade can only strengthen the resolve of those who are inimical to the friendly relations between India and Pakistan.
The Pakistan government must understand the consequences of dispatching the drugs, opium in the name of trade can only betray the trust of people here and put its image in dark. The number of incidents in which the drugs, opium and other types of drugs recovered from its trucks which had crossed the border under the barter system is denting its image severely.
In case it is sincere in trading with India, it must stop the sham practice of despatching drugs in the name of trade. Strengthening the trade and the CBMs needs a collective approach form both the countries which is definitely the need of time.
The editorial appeared in print edition of 02-08 August 2017.