As the stand-off on the Line of Control (LoC) continues, New Delhi on Thursday rejected Islamabad’s demand for the release of a Pakistani driver arrested on charges of smuggling narcotics and said that he will have to face the “full force of Indian law.”
India had already summoned Pakistan’s acting high commissioner on Tuesday in connection with the suspension of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot-Poonch bus services by Pakistan, which has demanded the release of its driver.
Pakistani authorities argue that under standard operating procedures, which guide cross-LoC barter trade, the driver should not have been arrested by Jammu and Kashmir police and instead he should have been handed over to Pakistani authorities. However, rejecting Pakistan’s contention, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said there was “no modality which exempts any person alleged to be involved in criminal activity from facing the full force of Indian law.”
Observing that there were confidence-building measures (CBMs) relating to trans-LoC trade and travel which bring about immense humanitarian benefits to people of Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said, “It is surprising that these CBMs have been chosen by Pakistan to be held hostage for the sake of persons indulging in drug trafficking.”
The spokesperson also said the foreign ministries of the two countries were making all efforts to resolve the situation as early as possible, and added that it was a “difficult situation” for the Indian drivers who have not been allowed to return by PoK authorities.