India-Pakistan cross-border trade continues despite war-like situation at LoC

The cross-LoC trade takes place between the two sides four days a week from Tuesday to Friday. Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 04, 2019, 01.50 PM (IST) Written By: Nagen Singh

The moments after Pakistan handed over Wing Commander Abhinandan to India, Pakistani forces along the Line of Control started heavy cross firing and shelling in Poonch, J&K. The return of Indian Wing commander was recognised as a peace gesture from Pakistan and instantaneously it killed three members of a family within 12 hours. Among the dead are two children and their mother who lived in a village near the last outpost of the Indian army, four Kilometers away from Chakan Da Bagh, Cross border Trade centre at LOC in Poonch.

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Pakistan has habitually kept violating a ceasefire along the Line of Control in the disputed region of Jammu & Kashmir, Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan after a young suicide bomber in Kashmir brought India and Pakistan into a war resembling situation by killing more than 40 Indian troops of India armed forces, CRPF.

People are living along the line of control in India and Pakistan in a state of war zone losing their loved ones, but the trade continues as usual across the border.

Pawan Anand, president of Cross border traders association, Chakan da bagh says that this barter trade provides liberation from the Suffocation of continuous tension of two countries along the borders.

“Our barter trade is heavily dependent on the trust factor. We neither meet traders of Pakistan nor can check the quality of the imported items until they reach to us. But even the Pakistani merchants have faith upon us,” says Mr Anand, he is dependent on WhatsApp conversations with his Pakistani counterparts for a million rupees deal.

Trade goods were exchanged as usual between both sides during all scheduled days during the week. In violation of the ceasefire agreement with India, Pakistani forces have been shelling areas along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts for eight consecutive days.

The current violence marks the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999.

“People complain why we still trade with Pakistanis in these decisive circumstances? But, they are the privileged ones, who don’t live in the last village near LoC. We live here, we know how cross border trade is helping to feed thousands of families on both sides of the border,” Anand says, answering to objections on their trade with Pakistan.

“We are not the ones who escalate tensions. We are citizens who need protection and peace, not war,” adds Anand.

After the attack on February 14, at least 140 trucks crossed the LoC from this side, while as 70 trucks came from the other side carrying various items. The trade was temporarily halted in Poonch for two days due to curfew in Jammu district because of which transport was not plying. The cross LoC trade is scheduled for four days a week from Tuesday to Friday, while as travel is scheduled once every week. 

Pakistan doesn’t accept to go in for banking system of the trade by citing the reason that if the trade takes place on a cash basis in India currency then it would affirm that Kashmir is no more a disputed territory and a part of India.

Traders have been arranging meetings in other parts of the world each quarter to secure a smooth running, as the governments haven’t allowed their meetings in Pakistan or India.