Pakistan, India agree to open five LoC points
29 October 2005
Islamabad: Pakistan and India have agreed to open foot crossings at five points across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir from November 7. The agreement was reached between the two sides after intense negotiations at the senior officials’ meeting held at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on Saturday. A one-page joint press statement issued at the end of the marathon talks well past midnight announced that the five crossing points across the LoC that the two sides agreed to open are Nauseri-Tithwal; Chakoti-Uri; Hajipur-Uri; Rawalakot-Poonch and Tattapani-Mendhar. The agreement on the five crossing points proposed by Pakistan covers the three meeting points suggested by India in a counter-proposal. “It was agreed that because of non-availability of or damage to infrastructure on these points, crossings across the LoC would be permitted on foot, the statement said, adding “The parameters and procedures as already agreed upon between the two sides being used for the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service would be used for the above additional crossings and both will endeavour to expedite the clearance process, preferably within ten days.” It was further agreed that priority for crossings would be accorded to members of divided families on either side of LoC. “For relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction purposes, it was agreed that with prior information and acceptance and depending on feasibility, relief items can be sent in either direction and handed over to local authorities on the aforementioned crossing points,” the statement said. It added “The two sides agreed on operationalization of the arrangements on November 7, 2005, as a humanitarian measure.” The delegations of Pakistan and India met here as a follow-up of President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s October 18 announcement that Pakistan was ready to open the Line of Control to allow two-way movement of Kashmiris in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The Pakistan delegation was headed by Syed Ibne Abbas, Director General (South Asia), at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indian delegation was led by Mr Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary (Pakistan), at Ministry of External Affairs. The meeting, said to be held in a “cordial and constructive” atmosphere”, was marked by back-and-forth consultations by the two delegations with their respective principles, it is learnt. According to informed sources the delay in finalizing the agreement was caused by a disagreement on the clause pertaining to involvement of Kashmiris in relief and reconstruction work on both sides of the divide. India apparently did not want it to be confined to just Kashmiris. During the meeting Pakistani side also expressed its appreciation for the assistance provided by India for the earthquake victims. The meeting was in progress when the triple bomb blasts rocked the Indian capital New Delhi late afternoon. The Indian delegation was informed about the blasts during the meeting. Pakistan immediately condemned the blasts. The two delegations then had their last session at 10.30pm and it ended at around 1am. Talking to Dawn ahead of the last session Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said “We are concerned about Kashmiris and are willing to go an extra mile to alleviate their sufferings and facilitate contact between divided families so that they could meet and help each other in whatever way they can.” Additional routes and meeting points along the LoC have been part of the ongoing Indo-Pakistan discussions aimed at facilitating increased interaction between the Kashmiris and promoting intra-Kashmiri dialogue.