The horrific tradegy of the Kashmir earthquake that killed tens of thousands in Pakistan and in India as well has also created a diplomatic opportunity. The Indian government today responded to Pakistani President Gen. Musharaff's call yesterday to open routes between Kashmiris living and struggling to cope on both sides of the infamous Line of Control (LoC).
India agreed to allow a few routes to be opened and is providing cell phone access for both sides of the LoC. According to the Deccan Herald:
"Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called on India to allow earthquake-stricken Kashmiris cross the LoC. 'We will allow any amount of people coming across Line of Control,' he told a news conference in the destroyed PoK capital of Muzaffarabad.
'If India agrees, we would like to work out the formalities.... We would like to open many other points. We will allow every Kashmiri to come across the Line of Control and assist in the reconstruction effort,' he said."
Such steps by both governments to reduce tensions in the region will help the long-term security and economies of both nations. Nevertheless, India needs to maintain the ability to keep Islamic terrorists from crossing over into India. Confidence-building steps such as these, especially in a time of great need, hopefully will lead to further Indian-Pakistani engagement.
Update: Pakistan and India are in negotiations over opening 5 points across the LoC (see here). October 22, 2005.
Update 2: India announces the planned establishment of 3 relief camps on the Indian side of the LoC for Pakistani refuges (see here). October 22, 2005