Kashmir Floods: Narendra Modi Offers Help To Sharif

7 September 2014
LiveMint
Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: South Asian rivals India and Pakistan on Sunday condoled the loss of lives in the disputed Kashmir region following large scale floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains. This came on a day the two prime ministers of India and Pakistan separately conducted aerial surveys of the destruction caused by the swirling waters in parts of the divided Kashmir region administered by the two governments. Reports say at least 73 people have been killed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir while at least 175 have been killed in the Indian side of Kashmir. Following the survey by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India offered assistance to the government of Pakistan to help relief efforts, India's foreign ministry said. 'My heart goes out to the affected people & my deepest sympathies are with them & their families,' Modi said in his letter to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif according to Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson with the ministry of external affairs. 'It is a matter of great distress that retreating monsoon have played havoc in many parts of our two countries,' Akbaruddin said in another post on the micro-blogging website Twitter. On Sunday, Modi flew over the Kashmir valley, where the worst flooding there in 60 years has submerged villages and ruined crops. 'This is a national-level disaster,' Modi said as he announced Rs1,000 crore in disaster relief payments, as well as compensation to victims and their relatives. A text of the letter to Pakistan's Prime Minister Sharif provided by the Indian foreign ministry quoted Modi as saying that 'it is a matter of great distress that the retreating monsoon rains have played havoc in many parts of our two countries...' 'While reviewing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, I was informed the damage to life and property is equally, if not more, severe in areas across the Line of Control as well. My heart goes out to the affected people and my deepest sympathies are with them and their families. In this hour of need, I offer any assistance that you may need in the relief efforts that will be undertaken by the Government of Pakistan. Our resources are at your disposal wherever you need them,' Sharif wrote. A Pakistan foreign ministry statement e-mailed by the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi said, 'Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif carried out an aerial survey of the affected area in Kashmir and Pakistan and is monitoring relief and rescue operations. We also feel the pain of the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir and are ready to help in whatever way possible to mitigate suffering of the people affected by the floods.' India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Kashmir that is administered in parts by both countries. Kashmir has been the trigger for three of the four wars between the two countries since 1947. Both countries claim the region in its entirety. Many rounds of peace talks between the two sides have not yielded a solution to the dispute though it has resulted in increased people to people ties and limited trade between the two countries. Last month, India called off peace talks with Pakistan after Pakistan refused to accept India's condition that it do not hold consultations with Kashmiri separatists prior to the one day foreign secretary level talks that were to be held in Islamabad on 25 August. The one-day talks had been billed as an exploratory 'talks about talks' move and flowed from the talks Modi had with Sharif when he invited him for his swearing-in ceremony along with leaders of six other South Asian countries. Both prime ministers will be in New York for the UN General Assembly session later this month, but it is not known whether the two will meet for talks on the sidelines of the conference.