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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

J&K and AJK Propose a Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI)

JCCI to submit recommendation to their respective governments

Abid Gani Wani (Daily Etalaat)

Srinagar: Azad Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AKCCI) President Zulfikar Abassi, who is leading the delegation on Wednesday, said that the commencement of trade between the two parts of the divided Kashmir would be a good omen to restore the severed ties between India and Pakistan.

“The permission to carry forward the trade between the two parts of the Kashmir is a significant confidence building measure (CBM) so far the restoration of relations between two countries is considered,” said Abassi.

Addressing a joint press conference here Abassi said that although the renewal of the trade ties after the gap of 61 years could not solve the long pending issue of Kashmir imbroglio but it can definitely pave a way for the solution of the dispute between the two countries.

“There are the disputes between various countries in the world but the solution to patch up the difference between them has been the negotiations and CBMs rather than violence and warfare. I am sure that the starting of trade between the two regions would provide a platform for the negotiations between them,” he said.

In order to make the trade substantive, Azad Jammu and Kashmir chamber of commerce and Industry (AJKCCI), Kashmir chamber of commerce and Industry and Jammu chamber of commerce and Industry agreed on the various issues and are submitting the recommendations to their respective governments to facilitate the trade through LOC.

Briefing the press about the recommendations worked out by the chambers, Mubeen Shah, President KCCI, said that the truck loads up to 10-25 metric tonnes a should be allowed to cross LOC so as to make the trade substantive and meaningful.

The Joint chamber of commerce and industries (JCCI) have proposed the dual currency and the payment made either in Indian rupee or Pakistani rupee with reference to US dollar or Euro or british pound.

In order to facilitate the banking transactions the working group has proposed to open up branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Muzafferabad and Mirpur and two branches of AJK Bank in Srinagar and Jammu.

The working group has recommended the starting of necessary telecommunication services from Jammu and Kashmir (JK) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and besides that Pakistan and India should allow couriers services and postal services directly between the two Kashmiris.

The recommendations further read that all the businessmen and their family members should get long term permits valid for minimum two years based on state subjects and the businessmen should be allowed to go in their own cars to undertake the LoC trade on both sides of LoC.

Regarding the service sector , the working group has proposed that a team from the Jammu and Kashmir should visit Muzafferabad and other parts of AJK to see the infrastructure and other modalities in joint venture so that tourism could be promoted in AJK and new destinations identified. There should be the exchange of the domestic and foreign visitors on both sides of LoC .

Besides this the JCCI has recommended tie ups between all educational institutions, Universities Medical colleges, Engineering colleges, Craft development institute, Indian institute of carpet technology and other exchange programmes.

Abassi while talking to reporter said that the delegation has received a good response from the government of the state and have acknowledged the issues rose by the delegation and agreed to give full cooperation for making the trade substantive.

Announcing the precedence for the Joint chamber of commerce and industry, Dr. Mubeen Shah said that the chamber would comprise of 32 members, 16 from AJK and Rest from KCCI and JCCI.

“There would be the 32 member executive body for JCCI, among which 16 members would be from AJK and 16 fro KCCI and JCCI,” he said.

He said that the executive body would be headed by President followed by vice president.

“The term for the President would be two years on a rotational basis i.e, one year for AJK and One for JK,”said Shah adding that the first President would be from AJK.

He said that the first fleet of 15 trucks would roll on between the Srinagar and Muzafferabad on October 21.

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