India, Pak to hold talks on opening points along LoC
India and Pakistan will hold talks in Islamabad on Saturday on opening some points and relief camps along the Line of Control and finalise modalities to permit Kashmiris on both sides to meet each other.
The one-day talks will 'decide the modalities for Kashmiris to cross the LoC to meet each other', Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said.
Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary in External Affairs Ministry, will hold talks with Ibne Abbas, Director General of South Asia Division in Pakistan Foreign Office, to reach an agreement on proposals by India and Pakistan to permit visits of Kashmiris on both sides. Sinha will lead a six-member delegation while the Pakistan side will include officials from ministries of Defence and Interior, officials said.
Sinha is expected to hold informal talks with Pakistani officials on Friday night after his arrival.
Aslam thanked India for pledging the 25-million-dollar assistance at the UN Conference for the earthquake victims in Geneva.
India has proposed to open relief camps at three points-- Aman Setu in Uri, Teetwal in Tangdhar and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch-- on the LoC where quake victims from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir can come over and avail medical treatment and relief material. Pakistan has suggested five locations along the LoC.
Earlier, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, while proposing to open the LoC, said it cannot be 'free for all' and will open only to Kashmiris.
Saturday's talks will also focus on the timeline, documents and category of travelers visiting each other.
The two countries are expected to follow modalities of identification agreed for the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, which was suspended after the October 8 earthquake.
"We have opened relief centres on various proposed points of movement across the LoC," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, currently visiting Moscow to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, told Pakistani media.
He said there were people on both sides of LoC who wanted to visit each other and take part in efforts to provide relief.
"This aid will be going in both directions, not one-way traffic."
Aslam said relief is being provided by Pakistani Army and the country's relief agencies along the Line of Control in Neelum and Jhelum Valleys.
The two valleys close to the LoC were cut off with key roads blocked by landslides. The relief supplies in these areas were being delivered by helicopters, mules and by foot, she said.
"Anyone who is able to come down from the mountains gets relief and medical assistance at the camps established for this purpose. They do not have to cross the Line of Control to find relief assistance," Aslam said.
This apparently meant that Pakistan did not see any need for people on its side of the LoC to visit relief camps being set up by India to obtain medical and other aid.
She, however, said Pakistan had already conveyed to India that both sides could receive relief goods at five points, including the three points suggested by New Delhi.
"India could send relief goods to these points to be received by our side for distribution. "Similarly, if they need any items from Pakistan, we would be ready to hand them over if these are readily available locally to help the affected people on the other side of the Line of Control," Aslam said.
Pakistan in its proposals sent to India identified five crossing points-- Tangdhar-Tithwal, Uri-Chakoti, Uri-Hajipeer, Poonch-Rawlakot and Mendhar-Tattapani.
Pakistan had opened relief centres at Chakoti, Titrinot and Babar Post in Neelum Valley opposite Tithwal and Khwaja Bhandi between Uri and Hajipeer to extend maximum relief to those residing in Uri, Pakistan's Defence Spokesman, Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said.
"We have set up these centres closer to the LoC so that the affected people from across could come over to Pakistan's side and have an easier access to medical and other relief supplies," Sultan was quoted as saying by The News daily.