MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistan on Saturday barred activists from taking relief goods intended for flood victims to the border of Indian-controlled Kashmir, where delays in aid have created widespread anger among residents.
The frustration has spread to the Pakistani-controlled area of the territory because of the family ties across the de facto border, where movement even for close relatives is tightly restricted.
Around 300 protesters from Pakistan-administered Kashmir took 11 truckloads of relief goods to the border town of Chakothi in an attempt to send them across the border for flood victims on the Indian-controlled side of the mountainous region.
Monsoon-induced flooding has wreaked havoc on both sides of the Himalayan region, which is divided between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistani authorities stopped the activists in the town of Chakothi, around five kilometres from the Line of Control (LOC), which divides Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
“We stopped them because we did not have any instruction by the ministry of foreign affairs or the government,” Tehzeeb-un-Nisa, senior administration official in Chakothi district, told AFP.
The floods, which hit on September 7, have been particularly devastating in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir where thousands of people lost their homes and were stranded for weeks without aid.
They caused devastating economic losses running into billions of dollars to the area’s famed carpet exporters, with separatists heavily criticising New Delhi’s response.
“Around 300 people wanted to take relief goods to the LOC for supply to the Indian part. It’s a matter between two countries, so we stopped them,” she said.