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Briefing by MEA Official Spokesperson on earthquake relief material sent to Pakistan, visit of MOS Mr. E. Ahamed to Pakistan and schedule of opening of crossing points on LOC

New Delhi 
November 17, 2005

Official Spokesperson: First, as you know the third relief train was dispatched this morning carrying relief materials for Pakistan. This train which has 27 wagons is carrying 600 tonnes of relief material. This added together with the other relief material sent by the two trains, one aircraft and 45 trucks across the LOC, (makes) the total amount of material that has been sent by the Government to 1300 tonnes. In addition, private entities have been facilitated in sending relief material to Pakistan. To complete the picture, as you recall, India had pledged USD 25 million to Pakistan at the International Donors’ Conference which was held at Geneva on October 26. 

On November 19, Government of Pakistan is holding an international conference to request funding for the long term task of rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the areas affected by the earthquake. Government of India will be represented by the Minister of State for External Affairs Shri E. Ahamed. He will be leaving tomorrow for Pakistan. 

As regards the opening of the crossing points on which there seems to be some amount of confusion and back and forth. I thought it best if we tell you that the schedule for the five (crossing) points (on LOC) which are being opened. This will be for the purposes of relief material and for the crossing of people whose names have been approved. These dates have been agreed to by Pakistan. These are: 

Tithwal-Nauseri (Saturdays): 19 & 26 November and 3 & 10 December 

Poonch-Rawalakot (Mondays): 21 November & 5 December 

Mendhar-Tattapani (Mondays): 28 November & 12 December 

Uri-Chakoti (Thursdays) : 17 November & 1 December 

Uri-Hajipur (Thursdays) : 24 November & 8 December 

Question: On the one hand Government of India has sent 1300 tonnes of relief to Pakistan. Government of India has also pledged 25 million dollars. On the other hand you have a spurt in terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. What is our reaction to this spurt in terrorism with the spurt in our sending relief? Secondly, has this issue been raised with Pakistan and at what level since in the past three days there have been an equal number of terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir? 

Answer: As you know, India had pledged its assistance immediately after the earthquake which was seen as a tragedy for the people of South Asia. India had offered whatever assistance Pakistan would wish us to send. A few days later some elements of this assistance which was required were identified and these were sent immediately by aircraft which you recall was 22 tonnes. This was followed by a gradual increase as the infrastructure improved, as the need for the relief was identified and conveyed, as the points were agreed upon, as the points opened. So, from 22 tonnes on the second or third day you have 1300 tonnes. This has been a gradual build up of relief. While the first train carried, I think, 70 or 80 tonnes, today’s train carries 600 tonnes. I would not call this a sudden spurt or a sudden increase. This has been a gradual build up as the needs have been identified, as the materials have been collected, as the conveyance has been facilitated. 

As far as terrorism is concerned India’s position on terrorism is well known. There is zero tolerance for terrorism and that must be reiterated and that has been reiterated in all places including during the SAARC Conference, in the press conference as well as the briefings on bilateral meetings. 

Question: Will Mr. Ahamed take up this issue during his visit on Pakistan? 

Mr. Ahamed is going there to attend the Pledging Conference. That is the main purpose of the visit. As to what is the content of any bilateral engagement that may take place, I can only tell you after, and if and when, such an engagement takes place. 

Question: There have also been reports in the Pakistani media that the earthquake has come as a blessing in disguise for the LeT and they have increased efforts of relief and in the process they are making jehadis out of quake victims. Has this matter been taken up with the Pakistan Government? 

I do not want to react on press reports - whatever news reports you are referring to - nor are these matters taken up on the basis of press reports. Naturally, if there is any concern that there is terrorism, there we have already made it clear at every stage that the entire bilateral peace process or the dialogue process which began with the January 6 Statement is based on the premise that Pakistan will not allow territory under its control to be used for any terrorism. That is the basic premise on which this entire confidence building exercise, the dialogue, has taken place. 

Question: What is the stand of India on the Iran vote in the light of the stiff opposition from the Left parties? 

I would only best refer you to the Prime Minister’s statement at the end-of-the visit conference at SAARC. 

Thank you