Srinagar, Asharq Al-Awsat- Kashmiri separatist leaders have criticized Pakistan for its rejection of India”s proposal to hold joint rescue operations in undivided Kashmir.
The chairman of the moderate faction, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq asked Pakistan to re-consider its decision and to increase joint rescue and relief operations in the earthquake stricken areas on either side of the Jammu and Kashmir border.
"The tragedy should be looked at from a humanitarian point of view and no one should seek to benefit politically from it. Several lives are at risk and due to the close proximity to either side, joint patrols would have helped many people," said Umer Farooq.
Shabir Choudary, the chairman of the diplomatic community of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in London said, "It was inappropriate of Pakistani authorities to refuse this friendly offer during such a tragic time. Pakistan has ignored this humanitarian issue and has made it an issue of politics and ego." His statement further read, "The aid, had it been accepted, allowing Indian helicopters to drop food and other urgent items, would have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, considering the fact that it is easier for India to reach out to these people. However, politics and pride have prevailed and Pakistan has rejected the offer."
The JKLF leader finally added that, "many people are confused as to why the Pakistani authorities have refused aid. They ask how Indian helicopters that will provide medicine and blankets would endanger the national security of Pakistan administered Kashmir."
Interestingly, a Pakistani foreign spokesperson, while rejecting the Indian offer, has offered India Pakistan”s assistance and has stated that Pakistan is ready to help.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, stated that India understands the pressure that Pakistan is under and that India would not be part of any political games during this time of tragedy. "Some Pakistani officials have bragged that Pakistan is capable of confronting this challenge on its own, yet no help is available to the people of Bagh, Rawalakot, Athmaqaam, Neelam Valley, Chakothi, Chakkar and others, five days after the disastrous earthquake.
JKLF leaders have said that it is not too late for Pakistan to accept India”s offer, and that they must demand the restoration of Pakistan Kashmir by having their own army rather then depending solely upon the Pakistani army.