Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pakistan and India Hold a Meeting on Trade Across LoC

Key Meeting in Delhi on Cross -LoC Trade

Srinagar, Nov 17(KONS): Efforts to establish trade ties across the LoC have intensified with the officias of the Pakistan trade authority having met the union minister of commerce, Kamal Nath, and his deputy, Jairam Ramesh, in New Delhi recently. The Pakistani delegation was led by Chief Executive of Pakistan’s Trade Development Authority (PTDA), Tarik Akram.

The meeting reviewed the progress made on steps required to be taken or starting bilateral trade across the LoC.

The list of items considered for export from this side of the LoC includes carpets, wool products, tapestry furniture, silk products, Kashmiri plants, spices, black mushrooms, green tea and handicraft products.

India has proposed geographical indicators for Kashmir handicrafts, and Pakistan has objected to five of the fourteen items placed on the exports list by India, saying that they are being produced in Pakistan as well.

Geographical Indicators are used for products that are a specific to a geographical area.
Though the developments have given a sort of a set back to the prospects of trade between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, both sides have agreed to hold a meeting of experts at the Wagah check point next month to consider building high-tech infrastructure for cross LoC trade.
India is learnt to have earmarked Rs 700 crore for the purpose, and Pakistan is keen to make an investment of matching magnitude.

The union minister of state for commerce, Jairam Ramesh, has said that the Indian firm, Tata Consultancy was willing to set up a development centre in Lahore, and India would provide Pakistan technical advice and training for expertise required in the diamond industry.

'Similarly, resolution of issues like business visa, delays in issuance of visas etc., are issues part of a holistic package, where political considerations will play a crucial role,' a Pakistani official was quoted by local media as saying.

Trade between India and Pakistan stood at $1.6 billion in 2006-07.

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