Uri, India, Asharq Al-Awsat- Indian and Pakistan opened a second border post on Wednesday on the de facto border in the disputed region of Kashmir to help survivors of last month’s earthquake.
Officials from both sides met at the Line of Control and shook hands during the opening crossing that links the Karman Post on the Indian side with Chakoti in Pakistan- administered Kashmir.
This contrasted with the scene on Monday during the opening of the Rawalakot- Poonch crossing, when police fired tear gas to break up a protest by villagers from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
The bridge at Karman was used when the two countries re-launched a bus service across the LoC in April 2005.
Kashmiri men from the Pakistani side carried emergency relief material donated by India on their backs to the village of Chakoti since the road was badly damaged in the quake.
Dilshad Khan, head of the Indian relief effort, handed over the first bag of rice to his Pakistani counterpart Shafiq Ahmed. In total, New Delhi provided 600 tons rice, 50 sets of utensil sets, 3000 blankets, 700 tents, medicines, soap and household accessories.
Sajjad, a doctor from Uri who was part of a team of doctor setting up a health center was pleasantly surprised to see his first cousin Zulfiqar for the first time in 16 years. The men had spoken on the telephone.
“How are you? How is everyone”, shouted Sajjad. “Everytone is fine,” his cousin answered.
“We are so near and yet so far. It is unfortunate but I am seeing my cousin for the first time in 16 years,” Zulfiqar said.
No civilians were allowed to cross the LoC.
Representatives of the local and national media used the occasion to communicate with each other.
A third border crossing is scheduled to open on Saturday with Indian President Abdul Kalam expected to visit quake-ravaged areas around Uri and Tangdhar and meet with survivors on Thursday.