India has suggested issuing multiple-entry visas to Jammu and Kashmir residents to facilitate hassle-free travel across the Line of Control (LoC), among the slew of new measures proposed at the meeting of cross-LoC Joint Working Group.
“Currently they have a form which is a single-entry thing. Because there is now(cross-border) trade going on, they require more than one entry.
“So, a suggestion was made by us if there could be a multiple-entry booklet,” said Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
He said New Delhi had also raised the issue of strengthening standard operating procedures(SOP)-- so that there are more stringent checks on the Islamabad side to prevent drug trafficking-- at the March 4 JWG meeting, which was convened on India’s request.
Pakistani officials also took up the matter relating to the release of the truck driver, who was arrested after drugs were found among the on board cargo. Following his arrest, the cross-LOC traffic had come to a complete standstill for several weeks after Pakistan blocked the movement of all goods until India released the driver.
“Of course they did raise the issue of the driver, who is currently in our custody, and we have explained to them that there is nothing in the standard operating procedures, which will entail the release of a driver or anyone else, who comes across the LoC if he is involved in criminal activities,” said Akbaruddin.
The Indian side made it clear that the driver will face the full force of the law and reiterated its demand to the Pakistani authorities to share the details of investigation carried out by them.
“And we have assured them that he will face the law as far as we are concerned and based on that any information that is available with us from those proceedings, we are willing to cooperate with them to ensure that such incidents do not happen, because we are of the view that the cross-LoC trade should not be held hostage to such incidents,” the MEA spokesperson added.