Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the deadlock in cross border trade with Pakistan, after the Indian authorities seized drugs, will now be discussed at the ministerial level.
Omar said that Pakistan's continuous support to the alleged drug smuggler was 'unfortunate'. "This matter is unfortunately now out of the state government's hand, initially we were negotiating with the Pakistani counterparts. They have raised it to a higher level. Now the ministry of external affairs and ministry of commerce are involved. We hope that the governments of India and Pakistan will arrive at an amicable settlement so that our drivers come back. Drug smugglers cannot be spared and they have to be punished as per the law of the land," Omar Abdullah told media here today.
"I think the way in which Pakistan has handled this is very unfortunate. A criminal is a criminal regardless of the country. These truck drivers whether we like them or not, do not have diplomatic immunity. We have arrested a smuggler of drugs. I think, to hold our truck drivers hostage because we have arrested a drug smuggler is extremely unfortunate," Omar added.
On January 17, India had detained a Pakistani driver for his alleged involvement in smuggling of narcotics. Afterwards Pakistan had made it clear that they would not allow the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote bus services to run till the impounded truck and arrested driver were released.
Pakistan had also detained 28 truck drivers from Jammu and Kashmir who had crossed command post with their vehicles last week.
On January 22, the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan was summoned by India in connection with the suspension of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and the Rawalakot-Poonch bus services by Pak authorities.