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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Eyewitness: Along the Kashmir ceasefire line
Border between Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir
The border is very mountainous and hard to define
Andrew Whitehead recently visited Pakistan-administered Kashmir and sent this report

We drove along what is still known as the Srinagar Road, although it has not actually led to Srinagar for more than half a century.

It is the mountain road which leads out of Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, towards the line of control - the ceasefire line that divides Kashmir.

It follows the majestic Jelum River which runs like a thread through Kashmir.

"You can see it is very hard to define a proper line because there is no barbed wire, there is no checkpoint, as on the international border," my guide explained.

That and the mountainous terrain must make it very difficult for the troops on both sides to actually police the ceasefire line. It seems to me they can never absolutely sure exactly where it runs up and down the mountains.

War zone

We passed through Jakoti, the last border town on the Pakistan side of Kashmir and made our way through what are really World War I style trenches. They are perhaps about 1.5m deep and 500cm wide and these lead towards the line of control.

They are cut through the hillside and open into a larger open area. There is a platform and a wall in front of the trench with a bit of canvas on top and overlook the line of control.

Indian soldiers, Indian-administered Pakistan
Soldiers patrol both sides of the border
Colonel Jaffe explained exactly where the line of control runs from here.

"Now if you look straight away just in front of you, you can see these wall types made in the clumps," he says. "So these are the forward posts of the Indians and you can see after some time they'll come out and you'll see their sentry also standing over there."

The Indian soldiers are only about 140m away, within waving distance.

"We don't wave but if the guests are around, people like you, they always wave and they get the response from the other side," says the colonel.

Quieter lives

Before the ceasefire, he said, there was artillery fire throughout the day.

"It was not even possible for us to bring you within about 8km of the line of control, he says. "Other than that if you just look on the left side of the river you can see these fresh fields, the cultivation is in process.

"So the basic beneficiaries are the civilians which reside towards our side of the line of control."

I visited a farm, which I guess is within 400m of the line of control, to find out if life improved since the ceasefire. One woman says life is a little better, and the last few months in particular have been peaceful and quiet.

But she is worried that the trouble is going to return. In fact she is convinced that one day soon it will all start again.

The Pakistani troops are keeping their weapons primed and ready, but after months of hesitant moves towards a settlement in Kashmir the big gain is that the guns on both sides of the India-Pakistan ceasefire line have fallen quiet.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | South Asia
Kashmiri militants reject talks
28 Mar 01 | South Asia
'Top Kashmir militant' shot dead
27 Mar 01 | South Asia
Suicide raid on Kashmir police
08 Aug 00 | South Asia
Kashmir ceasefire called off
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