| A quake survivor with his child in PoK. (Reuters)
New Delhi, Oct. 13: Pakistan has sought access through Indian territory to areas in occupied Kashmir that have become unapproachable after the earthquake.
If India grants the request ' chances are bright as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has twice made such an offer ' it will be a pathbreaking gesture.
Singh initially made the suggestion when Pakistan’s high commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan met him on Monday. He repeated it on Tuesday on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said Pakistan today formally approached India “through the diplomatic channel” for access to remote areas of occupied Kashmir (PoK) from the Indian side.
It is not clear yet whether Islamabad’s request is for using Indian airspace to fly rescue teams into PoK or whether it wants to launch relief missions from Indian territory.
The Line of Control is not a straight line in many places and juts into territory on either side. This has created enclaves that could be more accessible from the other side.
Some of the possible points for access from the Indian side could be:
• Uri Bowl (so called because of the shape of the enclave) to reach Lipa Valley in PoK
• West Tangdhar, badly affected on the Indian side
• Bugina Bulge to access northern areas in PoK
• Poonch to access PoK’s western region
No official announcement of Pakistan’s request was made till late tonight, perhaps keeping in mind “the sensitivities” President Pervez Musharraf and the Indian Prime Minister have been referring to while commenting on cross-border coordination.
Concerns about domestic reaction had forced Pakistan two days ago to deny Indian Air Force choppers permission to bring back bus passengers stranded in Muzaffarabad. India had to get the passengers back home via Islamabad.
The extreme caution was on display again when Islamabad denied reports that Indian troops helped some Pakistanis rebuild bunkers along the LoC.