Jammu: Asserting that a criminal is a criminal regardless of a country, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said that the way in which Pakistan handled the the issue of the arrest of their driver after recovery of drugs from his vehicle, was unfortunate.
"I think the way in which Pakistan is handling it, is unfortunate. A criminal is a criminal regardless of a country. Whether we like it or not, they do not have a diplomatic immunity," Omar told reporters here today.
PoK authorities had suspended both trade and travel on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route on January 17 after the arrest of the Pakistani driver by Indian authorities following the seizure of brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore at the Salamabad trade facilitation centre in Baramulla district of Kashmir.
PoK officials refused to take back 48 other drivers and vehicles from that side, and also detained 27 Indian drivers and their vehicles, demanding the release of the arrested driver.
Omar, who was replying to queries on the impasse over cross-LoC trade, said, "We have arrested a smuggler of drugs. Now, to hold our truck drivers hostage because we have arrested a drug smuggler is extremely unfortunate."
"We have allowed Pakistani truck drivers to leave, but they choose not to leave. That is no reason why our truck drivers should be held hostage," Omar said, adding, "This matter is unfortunately now out of the state government`s hand."
"Now Ministry of External Affairs and Commerce are involved. We hope that the governments of India and Pakistan will arrive at an amicable settlement so that our drivers come back. That having been said, drug smugglers cannot be spared. They have to be punished as per law of the land," the Chief Minister said.