India suspends cross-border trade in Kashmir
Iran Press TV
Fri Apr 19, 2019 01:50PM
India's government has suspended trade across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, the de facto border that divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan, saying it has been "misused" for smuggling weapons and narcotics.
The Indian government said on Thursday that cross-LoC trading was being "misused by Pakistan-based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics, and fake currency" and that many of those involved in trade there had links to militant groups.
India's Home Ministry said cross-border trade at the LoC would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism was set up, without specifying when that would happen.
Indian authorities prevented 35 trucks carrying fruits from crossing into the Pakistani-side of the border on Friday, according to the Indian Express newspaper. It was not clear why.
Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan ever since a Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a military convoy of Indian forces in Kashmir that killed at least 44 of them in February. India said Islamabad had been involved, but the Pakistani government denied that accusation.
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.
New Delhi and Islamabad started barter trade across the de facto border in 2008 as part of peace efforts. However, disputes often disrupt the trade. In 2015, India briefly suspended cross-border trade with Kashmir after it arrested a Pakistani truck driver on charges of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India removed the "Most Favored Nation Status" granted to Pakistan under World Trade Organization rules in response to the February attack.
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