Talks fail to end LoC trade deadlock

Baramulla: The deadlock over the cross-LoC trade continues, even as officials from India and Pakistan on Tuesday held fourth round of negotiations at the Kaman Post in Uri sector of this frontier district over the resumption of trade.
A delegation from this side led by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja held a two-hour long meeting at the zero point with Pakistani counterparts to resolve the crises triggered by the arrest of a driver from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) on charges of smuggling narcotics worth Rs 100 crore into Valley.
Officials said while the J&K delegation stressed upon the resumption of the trade ties, the Pak delegation led by former Brigadier Mohammad Ismail Khan reiterated that trade won’t be resumed unless the PaK driver is released and allowed to return home. The meeting remained inconclusive, even as officials announced to hold another round of talks on February 10 to break the impasse.
“Pakistan officials are demanding release of the driver arrested with narcotics. They not only refused to allow the stranded Pakistani drivers to return, but also refused to allow Kashmiri drivers to return home. We have refused their demand to release the arrested driver,” Sub-District Magistrate (SDM), Uri Dr Abdul Aziz, who also attended the meeting with Pak officials, told Kashmir Reader.
He said another meeting has been fixed on February 10 at the LoC in order to break the ice and resume the trade ties.
The trade between the two parts of divided Kashmir was stopped on January 17 following seizure of narcotics worth Rs 100 crore from the PaK truck. The driver is in custody along with the truck. PaK authorities responded by detaining 27 truck drivers from this part of Kashmir in Chakoti while 49 drivers from PaK side are stranded in Uri.
Police had detained the driver Mohammad Shafiq, son of Abdul Aziz Sarar of Muzaffarabad, who was carrying dry fruits marketed by Al-Fajar Trading Company based in Muzaffarabad. The challan of the vehicle had mentioned almonds as the goods being imported from PaK.
While Pakistan has been demanding release of the driver, the Indian government has made it clear that the law of the land will take its course in respect of the PaK driver and the vehicle detained in connection with the recovery of brown sugar.