Hurriyat hopes for border crossings soon
Special Correspondent
Oct. 19, 2005

Kashmir's main separatist alliance said on Wednesday it hoped that India and Pakistan would soon allow people in the divided region to cross the a heavily militarised frontier to help earthquake survivors.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf made a dramatic appeal on Tuesday to India to allow the quake-stricken people of Kashmir to cross the Line of Control running through the Himalayan region to help each other deal with the catastrophe.

"The government of India has welcomed Musharraf's proposal but little time is left and I hope both countries will allow Kashmiris to cross to help each other as soon as possible," Maulana Abbas Ansari, senior leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, told Reuters.

The quake that struck South Asia on Oct. 8 killed 42,000 people and left over a million homeless in Pakistan's Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. At least 1,300 died on the Indian side of the border.

India welcomed Musharraf's proposal for cross-border movement for relief but there was no immediate word on when the two sides would sit down to work how it could be implemented.

"Both countries should rise above politics and help grief-stricken Kashmiris. This will give them a chance to come closer," Ansari said. "Let there be no barriers at this hour of crisis."

Survivors have accused both governments of putting politics before humanitarian help since the quake, which struck Pakistani Kashmir particularly hard.

An agreement to open the border would be a leap forward as thousands of people are still waiting in their ruined villages for relief which Islamabad says could take up to another 10 days to reach them.

Many villagers, cold and hungry, have given up waiting for help and trekked to the nearest town. Some villagers walked as far as 35 km to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir to pick up food and blankets as winter looms.


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