Pakistan envoy summoned over cross-LoC trade, bus service suspension

Pak authorities also indicated that they would not allow the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad bus service to run.

Updated: January 22, 2014 12:42:04 am

Amid the standoff between India and Pakistan over the arrest of a driver from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the biggest ever brown sugar haul at the Trade Facilitation Centre in Uri, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday summoned Pakistan’s acting High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan to discuss the suspension of trans-LoC trade and bus services.

Sources said Pakistani authorities manning the Kaman post on the LoC refused to send back Indian trucks carrying cross-LoC trade consignments after Indian authorities impounded a truck coming from PoK and arrested its driver for ferrying narcotics that were meant for an Indian national.

Pakistan authorities also indicated on Monday that they would not allow the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote bus services to run till the impounded truck and arrested driver were released, sources said.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “While the two Foreign Ministries are working towards resolving the matter through diplomatic channels, it is indeed surprising that Pakistan chose to hold hostage trans-LoC trade and travel… for the sake of persons indulging in drug trafficking.”

Passenger bus services and movement of goods between the two sides have remained suspended on both Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads since last Friday.

Sources said PoK authorities were adamant on not allowing trade and travel on both the routes until the driver was released. The driver was arrested by Indian authorities following a seizure of 114 packets of brown sugar — worth over Rs 100 crore — from his truck in Uri on Thursday.

The stalemate has led to a large number of passengers and truck drivers from India and PoK getting stranded along LoC. The number of PoK people stranded on Indian side is higher than those having gone across the LoC from J&K. According to the Custodian of Cross LoC Trade at Poonch, Bashir Ahmed Lone, a cross-LoC bus left Chakkan Da Bagh for Rawalakote on Monday with 21 passengers, but PoK officials did not open the gate, forcing the bus to return to India.

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