Pakistan bars relief goods to flood-hit Indian Kashmir

A Kashmiri man works at his flood-damaged house in Srinagar on Oct 3, 2014. 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 wi
A Kashmiri man works at his flood-damaged house in Srinagar on Oct 3, 2014. 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. -- PHOTO: AFP

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 5km 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 Sept 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.

Speaking to the gathering in Chakothi, Abdul Aziz Alvi, chief of Kashmir chapter of Jamat-ud-Dawa, a Pakistan-based hardline Islamist group which arranged the relief supply but which India accuses of terrorism, said they would make another attempt.

"We will come again after Eid with more relief goods, food and medicine and will sit here until permission is granted to send it across the border," Alvi said.

Sardar Atiq Ahmed Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, said that the two countries exchanged relief goods at the time of a deadly earthquake in October 2005, "so there was no point to stop the relief goods now".

Kashmir has been a flashpoint in South Asia since the subcontinent was divided by Britain at independence in 1947 into India and Pakistan.

Both countries claim Kashmir in full and have fought two of their three wars over its control.