GILGIT: The government of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) seems reluctant to consider Indian government plans to open new routes across the Line of Control (LoC) to reconnect divided families in G-B and Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
According to media reports, Governor of IOK Narinder Nath Vohra recently told a joint sitting of the IOK legislature that the state government was considering opening four new routes this year – Gurez-Astore-Gilgit, Jammu-Sialkot, Chamb Jaurian–Mirpur and Nowshera-Mirpur.
“Three other routes – Kargil-Skardu, Turtuk-Khapulu, and Titwal-Chilhan across the Neelum Valley were also being explored,” he was quoted as saying.
The statement drew a lukewarm response in G-B.
G-B government spokesman Faizullah Faraq cast doubt over Indian plans, saying the multi-billion economic corridor project with China might be behind Indian efforts to reconnect with Pakistan through new routes.
“In the past, when Pakistan asked India about opening new routes to reconnect divided families, they did not respond,” Faraq told The Express Tribune on Monday.
“They even didn’t consider the request on humanitarian grounds. What is new for them now, except for CPEC,” he said, referring to Indian interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which G-B serves as a gateway for.
India has publicly opposed the multibillion-dollar project, largely due to the fact that it involves constructions in areas relating to the Kashmir dispute.
The spokesman said “we will look into the proposals once we get something in writing.”
Gilgit Commissioner Sibtain Ahmed also denied the G-B government received any proposal from the Indian government on this account.
In 1971, when the war rapidly escalated, the Indian army crossed the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the Himalayan region into Pakistani and Indian territories, and occupied Chulunkha, Tyakshi, Thang and Turtuk of Chorbat village in Ghanche district on the Pakistani side.
One of the divided families met in Skardu last year after 44 years. The scenes of reunion of the father and son made many teary-eyed at Skardu airport.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2017.