Cross-LoC trade: A reckless agreement

By K.N. Pandita

We intend to expose our political leadership in signing a gravely dangerous agreement with Pakistan in 2008 which has proved a challenge to the security of our country.

Under external and internal pressures, and on dubious insistence of J&K government, the then UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh signed in 2008 the ill-advised and reckless agreement of opening two trading points across the LoC in insurgency-torn J&K – one at Salamabad in Uri and the other in Chakan-d-Bag in Poonch.

Hindsight reveals that nobody at the policy planning level in the country knowingly or unknowingly took cognizance of the sickening history and coarse culture of the land and the people with whom the State government wanted to establish relations on the plea of “divided families” after a lapse of about six decades. Let me recount a few facts of history to explain the antecedents of the people with whom trade relations were sought to be established.

In signing the reckless agreement, the then UPA government overlooked the truth that the Kashmir Liberation Front (later JKLF) was entirely raised and run by the inhabitants of the PoK emigrated to UK, in collusion with their homeland chapter and financial support and directions from the ISI. The UPA government brushed under carpet the truth that the KLF had established its headquarter first in Birmingham and then in Luton with the Mirpuri expats mainly as its core group raising funds and garnering support for armed insurgency in Kashmir from all the four corners of the world. UPA government overlooked that the first armed revolt against the Maharaja of J&K was sponsored by the Muslim Conference in Mirpur in early 1947. It also forgot that the President of Muslim Conference Ibrahim Khan had announced the so-called Government of Azad Kashmir on 22 October 1947 in Muzaffarabad with him as its Prime Minister. The UPA government forgot that this Ibrahim Khan had participated in a secret meeting called by the then Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in Murree to finalize the plan of Kashmir invasion by the tribesmen. The UPA government paid no serious attention to the fact that Ravindra Mhatre, the Indian Counselor in Birmingham was kidnapped and shot dead by the KLF murderers of PoK expats in UK which was an ample proof of how these treacherous groups settled in UK had fallen in the trap of the ISI and chose to become the frontline of armed insurgency in the Indian part of Kashmir. The UPA government forgot that ISI had established branches of JKLF all over PoK as well as in Rawalpindi besides its headquarter in Luton (UK) run by late Amanullah Khan. The then UPA government forgot that it were these murderers who, under the nomenclature of JKLF, had murdered more than a thousand of Kashmir Pandits with the surfacing of armed insurgency in Kashmir in early days of 1990 and forced the entire community of the Pandits to abandon their homes and hearths.

Obviously, no self-respecting government in New Delhi would have agreed to the farcical trade agreement with such a depraved sub-human level people as have been described above. For the fuller traits of their character one should read the history of Bombas and Khashyas as told by Kalhan in Rajatarangini. Even today, the maximum crimes taking place in UK where there is a concentration of about 9-10 lakh of these people, are attributed to the PoK Diaspora. The murderers of Ravindra Mhate are still roaming free in the towns of PoK despite a warrant issued by the Scotland Yard. Sad to say that even the UPA government bungled with the entire Ravindra Mhatre case and the Scotland Yard sensing a rat put it in cold store. The simple inference one can draw is that the then UPA government had undisclosed objectives about opening the disastrous link under the rubric of CBM.

In a bold and forthright decision the Ministry of Home Affairs on 18 April ordered suspension of cross-LoC trade with the PoK in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The reason given by the ministry was that it had explicit information that the facility provided at two places in the state viz. Salamabad, Uri in Baramulla district and Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch district were misused by the PoK traders, some of them being in collusion with their Valley counterparts for clandestine smuggling of arms and ammunition, narcotics and fake Indian currency, all linked to the ongoing terror and insurgency in Kashmir.

After Pakistan unilaterally broke the standstill agreement with the government of the Maharaja of J& in August 1947, it had actually sealed the suspension of trade and transit route of J&K with its western neighbour for all times to come.

Some of the Valley leaders, particularly from PDP and NC, have expressed resentment on Home Ministry’s order alleging that it will ruin thousands of people involved in trade. In a statement Pakistani foreign office has accused India of making a pretext of false and untenable reasons for the suspension of the trade
As a fillip to pro-Pak elements in the valley, the Pakistan foreign office press statement incidentally added that “the cross-LoC trade has been one of the functional Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between the two countries”.

This exposes Pakistan’s double speak. True, the cross-LoC trade agreement of 2008, and the opening of two sites for the same was intended to be a confidence building measure between the people of the two countries. Did Pakistan really adhere to that principle? How many attacks did Pakistan-based terrorist organizations make since 2008, which were all fully endorsed by the Pakistan official authorities? We shall make a mention of attacks on Pathankot air base, Samba attack on army camp, Kunjwani by-pass atack, Uri attack and lately the Pulwama attack. Did these attacks contribute to the confidence building measure for which Pakistan foreign office laments? Can Pakistan name a single act which will pass as confidence building measure? On the other hand, India did not terminate the cross-LoC trade practice despite Pakistan’s numerous blatant provocations.

PDP regime under Mehbooba Mufti took unusual interest in promoting cross-LoC trade because as it served her political interests of inducting the third party that had taken upon itself the task of channelizing the trade earnings made by the stakeholders partly for supporting insurgency and partly for greasing the palms of the state bureaucracy and political class. Revelations made by Zahoor Watali, a hawala mole from Kashmir about how Hizbul Mujahedeen exercised remote control on the trade and passage of narcotics, arms and fake currency takes the lid off the much protected secrets of the trade. Suspension of cross-LoC trade ordered by the Home Ministry is the welcome step. The safety and security of the nation supersedes all other interests and the traders who have been indulging in clandestine and illegal practice of bartering must understand tht they will be called to the book.

Comments are closed.