Cross-LoC trade standoff: No breakthrough at India, Pak meet

Baramulla: The cross-Line of Control bus service remained suspended for the second time on Monday, even as the meeting between officials from the two sides at the LoC failed to end the deadlock caused by the arrest of a driver from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK)on charges of smuggling narcotics worth Rs 100 crore into Valley.
“The weekly bus service remained suspended for the second time. The PaK authorities had informed the passport officer here about the suspension of the service. They’re refusing to resume trade and travel unless their driver is released,” Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja, told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, the meeting between the two sides at the Kaman Post here on Monday remained inconclusive.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that a delegation led by Director Industries and Commerce Javed Khan met with the officials from PaK led by former Brigadier Ismail Khan at the Kaman Post. The meeting started at 3:15 pm and ended inconclusively at 5:00 pm. The next meeting has been fixed on January 30.
“The PaK authorities refused to resume trade and travel unless their arrested driver is not released. They also refused to release the 27 Kashmiri drivers from their custody,” sources said.
Besides, sources said, the PaK side also asked the state officials to share with them the information related to the investigations into the brown sugar smuggling case.
Pakistan suspended trade and travel demanding the release of a Pakistani driver and his vehicle from which 114 packets of brown sugar—valued at Rs 100 crore in international market—were recovered.
The PaK authorities have detained 27 drivers with their trucks at Chakoti across the LoC since Friday following recovery of the drugs on this side.
While one driver has been arrested, 48 other drivers from PaK are also stranded at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre since the stand-off began last week.
It is unlikely that cross LoC trade on Srinagar- Muzaffarabad route will commence on Tuesday in view of the ongoing row. While the Karavan-e-Aman Bus Service runs on weekly basis, the cross LoC trade is conducted from Tuesday to Friday every week.
The passenger bus service was started in April 2005 while the trade began in October 2008.