Indo-Pak tension fails to impact LoC crossing

12 January 2009
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: Strained relations between India and Pakistan after 26-11 Mumbai terror attack, talks of a war and increased deployment on Line of Control (LoC) notwithstanding, citizens between two parts of divided State (Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir) continued to exchange sides from cross-LoC point at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district. Among a total of 100 persons, who crossed the LoC point in weekly Poonch-Rawlakote bus service today, 54 were first timers crossing the LoC to meet their divided family members and relatives in two parts of the State. 'There has been no impact of tension between the two countries or the borders following reports of deployment by Pakistan. The civilians from J&K and PoK continued to exchange sides every week to meet their divided families and relatives', official sources said. Number of the visitors from PoK had virtually come down to negligible during first two weekly crossings on Poonch-Rawlakote route but after that the number has again started picking up. However, as reported, no fresh guest from PoK arrived in Kashmir through Uri-Muzaffarabad route last week. Today, 53 citizens arrived in Poonch from PoK. Of them, 16 were guests from PoK visiting this part of the State for first time while 37 others were returnees from this side. This was for the first time after 26-11 that 16 PoK citizens crossed LoC to visit this part of the State. During last four to five weekly crossings after Mumbai terror attack, the number of PoK visitors had sharply decline and on one occasion, only three persons were on board Rawlakote-Poonch bus service. From Poonch, 47 civilians left for PoK including 38 first timers from this part of the State and nine PoK returnees. According to sources, though the number of PoK guests has touch 16, the highest since 26-11, still it was much below the number of 60 persons the authorities in two divided parts of the State could send to each otherís territory every week as per an agreement between the two Governments. Prior to Mumbai attack, the number of PoK visitors to J&K used to be more as compared to the people crossing LoC to PoK from Poonch. However, now the position was reverse with more people visiting PoK from Poonch as compared to people arriving to this part of the State from across the LoC. There was no sign of any fears among the people crossing LoC from Chakan-Da-Bagh despite strained ties between the two countries including an advisory issued by the Central Government to its citizens against visiting Pakistan. The visitors, as usual, were seen leaving for PoK from Poonch enthusiastically to meet their divided family members or relatives after several years.