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Omar Abdullah urges government to ban cross border barter trade

April 4, 2012 - Jammu

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has urged the Centre to suspend cross border barter trade via the Line-of-Control (LoC), and to instead let local businessmen do their transactions in hard cash.

Speaking in the state assembly, Abdullah said the barter system is not benefiting locals.

"The biggest problem in the region is that even today, we are involved in a barter trade system. Unless we improve the trade system and decide on two major issues, these problems will prevail. Firstly, people should be allowed to talk to each other regarding business, for example, right now, if I want to engage in business with someone there, I cannot pickup the phone and talk to the concerned person, so, how will I be able to do business with him Secondly, if I am selling you goods, you will not be able to give its worth in money," said Omar Abdullah.

He said the element of cash in bilateral trade would be a catalyst in the confidence building measures (CBM) between India and Pakistan.

"Therefore, we want that we should be allowed to talk to each other and instead of barter trade, financial trade should allowed. The financial trade should include letters of credit and banking arrangements, where money is given in lieu of goods. The barter trade should be totally done away with and only then people from both the sides would be benefited and the CBM will be meaningful," added Abdullah.

India and Pakistan opened a historic trade link across the LoC in divided Kashmir for the first time in six decades in 2008, a step that was aimed at reducing tensions between the two nuclear powers.

However, traders complained about lack of banking facilities and communication links for progressive trade.

The LoC runs 742 kilometres dividing Indian and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and acts as part of the de facto border between the two countries.

The military frontline, which runs through inhospitable terrain, has separated hundreds of families and even divided villages and mountains.


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