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Jammu and Kashmir’s first Cross-LoC body of Cooperation Agreement signed on Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry

PRESS RELEASE: Issued from Istanbul, Turkey, on November 29, 2011 – In a major development towards enhancing Cross-Line of Control (LoC) cooperation in Jammu and Kashmir, ten major business organisations including the heads of four major Chambers and Federations of Industries from both sides of divide have decided to form a formal, inclusive and properly elected apex Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The first ever written and signed agreement on first non-governmental cooperation between different organisations of mutual interest from both sides of the Line of Control between Jammu and Kashmir was arrived at after a three-day long meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey from November 26 to 28. The agreement was reached between Presidents and other elected representatives of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), the AJK Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AJK CCI), the Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), the Federation of Industries Jammu (FIJ), the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (G-B CCI), the Merchants Association Ladakh, the associations and councils of Cross Line of Control (LoC) traders from all four trading points (Tetrinot-Chakan-da-Bagh on Poonch-Rawalakote route and Salamabad-Chakothi on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad routes) and the Intra-Kashmir Trade Union.

The Istanbul meeting was facilitated by Conciliation Resources, a London based organisation, with assistance of its regional partners Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (AJK) and Indus Research Foundation (Jammu).

First of its kind of civil society initiative to put in place a formal structure of cooperation was in inherent desire of the stakeholders to compliment a series of India-Pakistan Confidence Building Measures on reviving ties across the Line of Control between both sides of Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi and Islamabad had allowed first Cross-LoC Contact in 2005 by launch of bus service between Srinagar, on Indian side, and Muzaffarabad, on Pakistani side, of Jammu and Kashmir. Cross-LoC trade was launched in October 2008 and further tourism and cultural exchanges were agreed upon in July 2011. While acknowledging the fact that a Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry was agreed upon by three constituent Chambers in October 2008 which could not realise its full potential due to its limited scope of consultations, the participant representatives of different Chambers decided to organise the new body in an inclusive, participatory and sustainable manner. The inaugural president of the Joint Chamber Mr Zulfiqar Abbasi representing AJK Chamber (at Mirpur in Aazad Jmmu and Kashmir) informed the meeting that he could not transfer the Chair to next region (Jammu and Kashmir) after initially stipulated period of one year in absence of scope for any consultative process to do so.

To emerge as a formally constituted, properly elected and fully representative body of industry and trade organisations drawn from all regions in both, Indian and Pakistani, sides of Line of Control the meeting discussed and agreed that the Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry shall represent not only interests of the ongoing Cross-LoC trade but also work towards other possibilities of cooperation across the Line of Control with larger objective of building peace and trust between the regions.

Following are the broad contours of nine-point agreement which was signed by 17 participants representing all Chambers, Federations of Industries and associations of Cross-LoC traders:

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (J&K JCCI) shall be comprised of 44 members equally drawn from both sides of Line of Control. Further, the agreement clearly spelled out breakup of membership between all partner organisations. The eight members of the General Body will be reserved for the cross LoC traders, four from each side (Tetrinot-Chakan-da-Bagh and Salamabad-Chakothi trading points) and the J&K JCCI shall integrate the Joint Federation of Cross-LoC Traders after its proper establishment.
  • A proper constitution and terms of association for the J&K JCCI shall be drafted by a ten member committee before March 31, 2012 and approved by Executive Committee before April 31, 2012. The ten-member committee shall be drawn from constituent partners in equal numbers from both sides of LoC.
  • The President shall be elected by the defined Electoral College and will assume office January 1 each year and Presidency will rotate between the sides of LoC on early basis. Honouring the agreement reached between the founding members of the J&K JCCI in 2008, the Presidency of the J&K JCCI will be transferred to a member from the Valley of Kashmir who will be elected by the 11 members of the aforementioned Electoral College in the Valley of Kashmir.
  • To facilitate the above processes the participants requested Conciliation Resources to provide assistance and agreed that Ershad Mahmud (Executive Director, Centre for Peace, Democracy and Reform, Mirpur) and Zafar Choudhary (Honourary Director, Indus Research Foundation, Jammu) would act as liaison with Conciliation Resources in this regard to supervise the implementation of the agreement.

URL : Joint Jammu & Kashmir Chamber formed  /  E-jang News (12-01-2011)

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