Talks on opening LoC started with India: Aziz

Posted in Broader Middle East | 20-Oct-05 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

An Indian Kashmiri man argues with aid workers as relief operations are carried out in the earthquake hit area of Chamkot, near Line of Control (Loc), October 19, 2005.

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19: Pakistan and India have started discussing modalities to open the Line of Control (LoC) so that Kashmiris can meet their quake-hit relatives and join relief activities across the divide.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz disclosed this while talking to journalists here on Wednesday. President General Pervez Musharraf had declared on Tuesday that Pakistan was ready to open the LoC.

The prime minister said that the decision made by Pakistan and welcomed by India would enable Kashmiris on both sides of the divide to share their sorrow and help each other.

In reply to a question, Mr Aziz called for a solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris. He stressed the need for trilateral talks in this regard, saying Kashmiris were a basic party to the issue.

He reiterated that Pakistan would never budge from its principled stand on Kashmir and hoped that invaluable sacrifices rendered by Kashmiris would not go in vain.

He welcomed the gesture shown by visiting Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, who has brought relief goods for the quake-affected people of Azad Kashmir.

Referring to the forthcoming United Nations donor conference to be held in Geneva on Oct 26, the premier said Pakistan would explain its needs in connection with relief operations and expressed the hope that the conference would help the country get more aid.

He said a 30-member team of the World Bank had arrived in Pakistan to assess the cost to be incurred on reconstruction of the infrastructure. He said the government and the army were also assessing the loss, adding that estimates would be made public.

The prime minister said that work was going on to set up tent villages aimed at sheltering the people rendered homeless by the disaster. He said that non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and governments of Azad Kashmir and NWFP had also been working on similar plans.

Medical, food, and informal education facilities would be made available in tent villages, he said, adding that there would be no compromise on the education of quake-hit children.

He said options of importing pre-fabricated structures and big tents for schools were being looked into.

Mr Aziz pointed out that the human face of Pakistan had been highlighted by the spirit with which the nation had responded to the challenge posed by the quake.

He said that heavy construction equipment had already arrived from the United States and added that Pakistani and American engineers would work together to clear roads in the valleys of Jhelum, Neelum and Kaghan.

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