India, Pak agree to release detained trucks
New Delhi: Ending a three-week stand-off, India and Pakistan on Wedesday agreed to release trucks detained in their respective territories but a driver from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, who was arrested in North Kashmir with a truck allegedly carrying brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore, will not be freed.
According to official sources, Pakistan finally agreed not to insist on its demand for release of the arrested driver and his vehicle as the Indian side made it clear that he will have to face the due process of law.
As per the agreement, PoK will release 27 trucks detained in its territory since January 17 and also take back 48 trucks which have been held up in Salamabad check post at Uri in North Kashmir.
Cross-border trade was suspended from January 18, a day after Jammu and Kashmir police seized a truck coming from PoK, saying it was carrying 114 packets of brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore in the international market. The matter was taken up at diplomatic and other levels to find a solution.
PoK authorities had stated that it will release the Indian trucks only after the seized truck alongwith the driver and drugs were let off by the J-K authorities.
As the deadlock continued, Pakistan suspended cross-border bus service also until its demands were met. This was later resumed on February 3. However, there is uncertainty over resumption of cross-border trade, the sources said.
Pakistan Acting High Commissioner was summoned by the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi on January 21 in connection with the suspension of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot-Poonch bus services by Pakistan.
Based on the interrogation of the arrested driver, two more persons were arrested from Bandipore in North Kashmir.
External Affairs spokesperson had said that India has repeatedly emphasised to Pakistan to allow the full resumption of travel and trade across the LoC and to hold an immediate meeting of the Trade Facilitation Officers at Kaman so that both sides can exchange information with regard to the narcotic seizures that have been made.
"We regret the fact that for the sake of a drug trafficker caught red handed smuggling narcotics into India, the Pakistani authorities have continued to refuse to allow the resumption of trans-LoC travel and trade that brings great benefits to the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir," he had said.