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Report sought on Indian minister 'entering Pakistan'

Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh's "stroll on Pakistani soil is being seen by some diplomatic observers as a show of disrespect for Pakistan's sovereignty", says a Pak daily.

world Updated: Jan 20, 2008 19:18 IST

The Pakistan foreign office has sought a report on how and why an Indian minister crossed into Pakistani territory at the Wagah border "in violation of all rules and regulations".

Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh's "stroll on Pakistani soil is being seen by some diplomatic observers as a show of disrespect for Pakistan's sovereignty", The News reported on Sunday.

Accompanied by Indian officials, including Amritsar Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu and some Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, Ramesh is reported to have walked up to the conference hall of the Pakistan Rangers, about 40 yards inside Pakistan.

"The government in Islamabad has taken a serious view of the incident as it does not comply with diplomatic norms. The interior ministry has also asked the officials concerned to submit their report about the incident," The News said.

Interior ministry spokesperson Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema told the newspaper that he could comment only after receiving a report.

A similar incident is reported to have taken place soon after partition in 1947 when former Indian Army chief Gen KM Cariappa drove to Lahore in his jeep when former Pakistan Army chief Gen Musa Khan was commanding the Lahore garrison.

"They were then brigadiers and were friends since before independence. On seeing the Indian brigadier in his garrison outside his office, Brig Musa shouted at him and ordered him to return to his soil immediately otherwise he would be arrested or shot," The News said.

"I went only two steps and did not go to Pakistan," Ramesh was quoted as saying when asked how he crossed the international border without any legal papers.

According to BSF Inspector General Arvind Ranjan: "We don't allow anyone to cross the border without visa or legal documents, but we ourselves go to attend the meetings across the border as per schedule."

Saying he was not present when Ramesh crossed the border, Ranjan said he would look into the matter after getting reports from BSF officials who were at the spot.

A highly placed immigration source said: "The minister crossed the border just out of curiosity. Even the Pakistani Rangers did not stop him, while he was entering Pakistan."