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, January 2, 2011

Cross-Border Trade

Even the political opposition now agrees that trade across the LOC is a major CBM (two reports)

Goods worth Rs 18 crore traded between two parts of Kashmir

Srinagar: Goods worth Rs 18 crore were traded between Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir during the weekly Line of Control (LoC) trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, officials said today.

Traders from Kashmir sent goods worth Rs 6.6 crore in 129 trucks to PaK, while the traders across LoC sent goods worth Rs 11.57 crore on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nodal officer for the trade N A Baba said.

He said 920 tonnes of goods, consisting of red chilli and coconut were exported to PaK, while 794 tonnes of goods in 124 trucks crossed this side.

Oranges formed nearly 70 per cent of the imported goods, which also included dry fruit and carpets, he added.

However, traders are up in arms over the delay in constructing godowns for storing the goods till they are cleared by security and custom officials.

"More than per cent of the goods are lie in the open with snowfall and rains in the area," Hilal Ahmad, one of the traders said.(Rising Kashmir News)

PDP for providing facilities to traders engaged in cross LoC trade

POONCH: Terming opening of cross LoC trade as most significant and historical Confidence Building Measures (CBM), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today demanded that required facilities should be provided to the traders of both the sides besides simplifying the procedure of trade.

Party observed that due to non availability of adequate facilities, traders have been facing hardship so there was a dire need to take some immediate and effective steps to ensure smooth flow of goods from both sides of the LoC.

Addressing one day convention of party workers at Poonch, former Minister and deputy leader of opposition in the Assembly, Abdul Rehman Veeri emphasized on the need of providing banking facilities to the traders of both sides. “Traders engaged in cross LoC trade have been facing hardship due to non availability of banking facilities so this problem should be immediately solved”, he said and added that traders from both sides being benefited by this trade it was imperative for the government to provide all possibility facilities to them.

Veeri further said that through cross LoC trade scarcity of essential commodities in this backward area has been removed and there was a need to further facilitate this process for the socio-economic growth of this region.

He said that the opening of Srinagar-Muzafarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads for trade was a step of unprecedented wisdom and courage that the both India and Pakistan have shown in the recent history and it was need of the hour to further facilitate this process.

He said that opening of cross-LoC routes for travel and trade was a major landmark to address aspirations of the people but lot more needed to be done. He demanded that right to travel across the LoC should not be confined only to divided families. People of Jammu and Kashmir should have the right to move across the borders unfettered and hassle free. He demanded simplification of the cumbersome process of traveling across the LoC.

Veeri said that after opening of the cross LoC trade, Poonch has been emerged as Gateway of the State and there was need to further boost this trade. He stressed on the need of opening traditional road links of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh with the outside world.

PDP vice president Trilok Singh Bajwa in his address said that opening of all routes would not only boost economic growth of the people of this region but also facilitate reunification of divided families. “Socio-economic growth of the State has been restricted after the partition due to plugging of all routes connecting Jammu and Kashmir with rest of the world”, he observed and maintained that PDP has been advocating for opening of all traditional trade routes for the economic growth of this region.

The party general secretary Thakur Balbir Singh highlighted problems being faced by the people, he demanded that some effective steps should be taken to minimize miseries of those families who have been on this side of the border but living across the fencing. (Kashmir Times News)

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