India and Pakistan to discuss points on LoC

India will have to take a relook at its plans to set up relief and rehabilitation centres at three points along the Line of Control after Pakistan turned down the proposal, saying such centres were not needed now as sufficient relief was available on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

New Delhi had taken the initiative on October 22 and announced that it was ready to set up composite relief and rehabilitation points at three places: Kaman (near Aman Setu in Uri), Tithwal (Tangdhar) and Chakan da Bagh (Poonch), to provide facilities for medical assistance and relief to people from across the Line of Control.

The idea was to make large enclosures at these points, where people from the Pakistani side can walk in without any documentation for purposes of relief. The area would have been a sanitised zone and fully secured. It was also decided that those receiving medical treatment could also stay overnight on doctor’s advice. This was an innovation of the Indian proposal to set up meeting points along the LoC. South Block officials felt that such a measure would directly address the problems being faced by people coping with the aftermath of the earthquake.

But at the talks held to discuss these proposals on Saturday, Islamabad felt there was no requirement for such an effort now.

Instead, what was agreed is that depending on feasibility, relief items could be sent in either direction and handed-over to local authorities at the five crossing points.

On a positive note, the two sides agreed on five cross-over points along the LoC with preference to divided families to cross over at five points on foot. The documentation will be the same as followed for the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, though both sides will try and expedite the process. They agreed to operationalise this by November 7.

Pakistan had suggested an easier procedure for Kashmiri families, saying they could be granted permission at the crossing points. But India was not in favour of making any such distinction. So it was decided to stick to the arrangement for the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus which involves a pre-verification exercise that both sides will try to complete within 10 days of receiving an application.

The five crossing points are: Nauseri-Tithwal, Chakoti-Uri, Hajipir-Uri, Rawalkot-Poonch and Tattapani-Mendhar. These points had been suggested by Pakistan, hours after India had announced its willingness to set up relief centres.

The two sides also failed to reach an understanding on the numerous non-governmental organisations willing to help in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. They will have to apply through the normal process. Some NGOs have applied earlier but are still awaiting a response from Pakistan, reports Indian Express. I.L.