India-Pakistan trade halt in Kashmir holds for 5th day

SRINAGAR – Trade and travel across the India-Pakistan boundary in divided Kashmir has now been suspended for five days. 

Trade was stopped on Saturday when Indian police arrested the driver of a truck crossing from Pakistan for allegedly carrying a consignment of narcotics. Pakistan immediately demanded the release of the driver, who they said was innocent. 

A bus service that connects separated families living on either side of the boundary has also been suspended. 

A district official from Baramulla in the northern part of Indian-held Kashmir, Talat Parvaiz, said authorities are waiting for Pakistani officials to approve a resumption of trade. 

“We were expecting a call from them on Monday morning and they were supposed to inform us about the time when we can send the trucks. But we are still waiting for their response,” Talat said.

Officials at the Trade Facilitation Centre in Uri in Indian-held Kashmir told Anadolu Agency that in recent meetings Pakistani officials showed interest in resuming trade. 

There are 21 truck drivers from Pakistani-held Kashmir stuck on the Indian side, and 48 from Indian-held Kashmir are on the Pakistani side. 

According to the officials in Indian-held Kashmir, 300 trucks loaded with perishable items are waiting to cross over to the Pakistani side.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. The two countries have fought three full-fledged wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.

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