JEHANGIR ALI | 30 SEPTEMBER, 2016
Kashmir Wants India-Pakistan Tensions Diffused: Cool Down!
SRINAGAR: The escalation at the Line of Control has triggered migration among residents living along the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir with the mainstream political parties as well as a Hurriyat group urging India and Pakistan to take immediate steps for defusing the situation.
A day after the Indian Army claimed to have carried out surgical strikes at four places along the Line of Control in Kashmir, residents of dozens of villages in these areas have abandoned their homes, unsure of when the situation will return to normalcy.
"We become primary victims of any escalation between the armies of two sides. The shelling has forced my family to abandon our home. War will not achieve anything. It only leads to death and destruction," Rashid Din, a resident of Kanzalwan in Gurez near the LoC, told The Citizen over phone.
The strikes carried out by the Army have also sparked panic among the residents in Jammu region of the state where petrol pumps and banks registered heightened activity on Thursday and Friday amid fears of the two countries going to war.
In Kashmir valley, however, the news of the strikes was met with disbelief and shock, evoking humorous commentary on social media where many users, while mocking the claims of 'surgical strikes', urged India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and resolve the Kashmir dispute to avoid such situations.
In the capital Srinagar, funeral prayers in absentia were held at the historic Jamia Masjid for the two Pakistan soldiers who were killed in the strikes by Indian forces.
The mainstream political parties including the ruling Peoples Democratic Party president chief and J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed concern over the situation, saying any confrontation could lead to "disaster of epic proportions".
“New Delhi and Islamabad must open the channels of communication realizing the dangerous consequences of any escalation of on-going confrontation along the borders,” she said, while calling upon India and Pakistan to exercise restraint for the sake of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister called for revival of the spirit of the Joint Statement issued in Islamabad on December 9, 2015 following the meeting of External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj with her Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz.
The Opposition National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah said his party was concerned at the alarming situation along the Line of Control. Hoping that cooler heads would prevail, Dr Farooq Abdullah has made an appeal to uphold the ceasefire agreed upon in 2003, a party spokesman said.
“We hope cooler heads will prevail and the ceasefire of 2003 will be upheld. Our thoughts are with people living along the Line of Control and the International Border as it is them who suffer the most in times of such escalation,” Dr Farooq Abdullah said in a statement issued from National Conference headquarters in Srinagar.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's group expressed shock and concern over “unprovoked” firing by Indian forces on Pakistan while underlining that "military aggression and war is no solution to any problem".
“It instead worsens problems further which the three previous wars between both the two counties has shown,” a statement issued by moderate Hurriyat said yesterday.
The Hurriyat also criticized electronic and print media for “creating war hysteria and arousing passions” among the people of the two countries in confrontation between the two countries.
While the relations between the two countries are nearing a tipping point, the cross LoC trade between the two parts of Kashmir remained unaffected on Thursday.
According to officials, the flare-up didn't affect the LoC trade, which was suspended in July, with at least 26 trucks crossing the Kaman-Aman Setu bridge towards Muzafarabad while at least ten trucks from other side of divided Kashmir reached Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre in north Kashmir's Uri.