The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party on Friday said the Centre’s decision to suspend trade across the Line of Control with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would only worsen relations with Islamabad.

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday issued an order to suspend trade across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The Centre claimed the trade route was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for the transportation of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”. The order came into effect from Thursday midnight.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah claimed that the Centre was undoing every peace initiative undertaken by the former Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. “The Modi Govt buries another of the Vajpayee era CBMs. Cross LoC trade was a legacy of the Vajpayee Govt decision to facilitate greater people to people contact across the Line of Control in J&K,” Abdullah tweeted.

He added that a less drastic step could have been taken to tackle the illegal activities. “It was to plug this that the state has been pleading for the installation of full-truck scanners at the trade points,” he tweeted. “But rather than install these scanners, the government has taken the regressive and highly unfortunate step of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Instead of saving the CBM, they’ve decided to abandon it.”

Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti claimed the BJP was using Kashmir as a scapegoat to make electoral gains. “Using Kashmir as a scapegoat to claw its way back to power won’t help BJP,” she tweeted. “It’s an excuse to worsen ties with Pak despite their peace overtures. By doing this, PM Modi has dismantled a CBM initiated by Vajpayeeji. Won’t be surprised if an attack on Pak is in the offing.”

The trade is meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Trading is allowed through facilitation centres at Salamabad, Uri, Baramulla, Chakkan-da-Bagh and Poonch. The trade takes place four days a week. The trade is based on a barter system and zero duty basis.