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Pakistan - Endnu en grænseovergang til Indien er åbnet i Kashmir

PAKISTAN: Second border crossing-point opens to allow relief from India

IRINnews.org, 9. november 2005

Efter en måned med konstant udvidelse af nødhjælpsaktiviteterne efter jordskælvet i den pakistanske del af Kashmir er der nu åbnet endnu en grænseovergang mellem Indien og Kakistan ved Kamran Post i en af de tidligere mere omstridte regioner. Initiativet har mødt stor velvilje og man håber på at den netop indgåede aftale mellem Indien og Pakistan om at åbne ialt fem grænseovergange bliver realiseret, så man nemmere kan nå frem til de mere afsidesliggende regioner, hvortil der faktisk er lettere adgang fra den indiske side af grænsen "Line of Control".

CHAKOTHI, 9 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - A straggly, single file of porters, hunched over as they carried sacks of relief goods sent across from Indian-administered Kashmir, were watched by dozens as they walked up the broken road towards Chakoti on Wednesday morning.

The opening up of the Chakoti-Uri crossing-point, known as Kamran Post, on the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered portions of the Kashmir Valley, a disputed territory over which India and Pakistan have fought two wars, has been widely welcomed.

It's now more than a month since the devastating regional quake that has killed at least 86,000 and injured more than 100,000. Adequate relief has still to reach tens of thousands of vulnerable people and winter snows are threatening to kill those housed in emergency camps.

But people in the valley hope the decision reached a few days ago between Islamabad and New Delhi to open up five points along the LoC can at least reunite divided families. Many have been kept apart for over 50 years due to hostilities between the two South Asian neighbours. They also hope the new crossing points can ease the supply of relief to some of the worst-hit areas in the Neelum and Leepa valleys of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where access by road to many villages is still impossible.

"Our Kashmiri brothers on the Indian-administered side are desperate to help us. We have received many telephone messages offering us support. Now perhaps they can bring the relief goods themselves," said Imdad Hussain, 65, a tailor from the small town of Rawalakot, close to the frontier.

He had reached Chakothi, the last town on the Pakistani side of the frontier along the road leading from Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, to Srinagar, the capital of the India-administered portion, to witness the border opening.

"Some day, I hope to see my niece Sameera, who lives near Poonch [in Indian-administered Kashmir]. She was a baby when I last saw her, in 1947," said Imdad, who was himself little more than a toddler at the time.

So far, civilians have not been permitted to cross the LoC. While the agreement between New Delhi and Islamabad allows for Kashmiri residents to cross briefly and visit relatives on the other side of the divide, bureaucratic details to enable this have yet to be put in place. Lists of applicants who wish to go across and a process to register them and monitor their return, are still being completed.

The desperation of people to move freely across the tightly patrolled frontier was evident on Monday, when the first crossing-point was opened at Titrinote, between Rawalakot in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Poonch, on the Indian side.

Soon after, soldiers from both sides shook hands in a rare gesture of friendship and relief goods were handed across to Pakistani authorities. Several dozen people on the Pakistani side attempted to race towards the frontier, apparently hoping to cross over. They were held back by police who eventually had to resort to tear gas to control a crowd of hundreds, which began angry protests shouting loudly: “We want freedom”, “Allow us to meet our brothers”.

Kashmiris gathered on the Indian side responded with similar slogans, some insisting: “We want to help our fellow Kashmiris - let us go.”

Many in Kashmir hope that the humanitarian disaster the quake has brought will persuade governments to allow Kashmiris to reunite. They also believe utilising routes from India can somewhat ease the task of swift relief delivery to the worst-affected areas. On Tuesday, World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume called for “opening up of roads” from across the India-Pakistan border to allow aid to reach those in "the most desperate need of help”.

The sight of soldiers clearing landmines and lifting barriers off roads leading towards the frontier caused rare joy among local people. Haseeb Khan, 74, a retired building contractor at Chakothi, said: "Maybe my great grandchildren will know a childhood like my own, when there were no mines, no guns and no soldiers in Kashmir and people were not held apart by barriers that have still not completely come down even when thousands have died before our eyes."

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 9.1.2006