November 2005 News

First LoC crossing opens today

6 November 2005
The Dawn
Iftikhar A. Khan

Islamabad: One of the five designated relief points along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir will become operational from Monday while India has sought more time, for technical reasons, to open the other crossing points. An official said that Pakistan had completed preparations on all the five points, entailing heavy work by Pakistan Army engineers, particularly clearing minefields and preparing new roads and tracks. The official said India “has informed that it needs some more time to clear landmines and landslides along the LoC”. Initially, the two countries had decided to open five points along the LoC for crossing on foot by members of divided families on both sides at Nauseri-Teethwal, Chakothi-Uri, Hajipur-Uri, Rawalakote- Poonch and Tattapani-Mendhar. The crossing point in Poonch will be the first to open while at least two more are expected to be opened by November 10. Relief material for earthquake victims will be sent through these points and people will be allowed to cross the LoC after their names are approved by both sides. A press release issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said “all preparations on the Pakistan side are complete”, following the October 29 agreement between Pakistan and India to open the Line of Control at the five places. To open the Nauseri-Tithwal crossing a bridge on Neelum is required to be laid at Chehliana. Pakistan airlifted equipment to the site and has prepared the anchorage on the home side. The bridge would be completed once work on the Indian side is completed. At the Chakoti-Uri crossing, the track has been prepared by Pakistan Army engineers and work on widening the road is in progress. At the Haji Pir-Uri crossing, the road from Haji Pir to Khoja Bandi, almost 23 kilometres, has been widened in the past few days while a track of half a kilometre length from Khoja Bhandi up to the LoC has also been built. At the Rawlakot-Poonch crossing, one-and- a-half kilometre long track from Titrinot to the LoC has been prepared. Clearing of minefield has also been completed and the road surface is being improved. At Tatapanni-Mehander, the fifth crossing site, Pakistan Army engineers have built a 1.5 kilometre long track. Mines have also been cleared on the track. Six telephone connections, including two international dialling telephones, have been installed at the crossing site. Relief centres have been set up at all the five sites, with shelter and storage facilities for goods. Medical teams will be there for people coming from the other side. The proposal to open the LoC was made by President Pervez Musharraf on Oct 18 to allow flow of relief goods and reunion of divided families affected by the quake.


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