Pakistan said on Monday it has invited Indian officials to talks about opening the de facto border in disputed Indian state Kashmir to help survivors of the shattering earthquake on the Pakistani side.
"We are not sitting on any proposal," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told reporters amid criticism that the nuclear-armed rivals were putting politics before people in a region over which they have fought two of their three wars.
"We have asked India to send a delegation as soon as possible," she said. "If they send them today, we are ready to receive them."
Islamabad had sent its formal proposal on Saturday for opening the heavily militarised frontier "in the spirit" of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's dramatic call last week to allow divided Kashmiri families to help each other, she said.
"We are awaiting a formal response from the Indian government," Aslam after the earthquake killed at least 53,000 people in the rugged mountains of northern Pakistan and 1,300 in Indian Kashmir, informs Reuters.
Yesterday, a train of more than 40 mules set off for the Indian border from the mountain ranges high above the Pakistani town of Muzaffarabad carrying enough food from the UN World Food Programme to last 2,000 people a week.
But with hundreds of villages along the line of control cut off, the aid convoy remains a drop in the ocean.
India's foreign affairs spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said yesterday that the operation to build relief camps at three points along the line of control to aid those worst affected by the disaster had already begun and that the centres would provide relief to survivors in the hardest-hit Pakistani zone.
He said: "Within the next few days people from across the line of control will be allowed to come in during daylight hours after suitable screening and then return. Arrangements are being made for providing relief material, medical aid, food, drinking water and temporary accommodation at these points."
India has already provided tons of relief to its northern neighbour but has been moving ahead cautiously with proposals from Pakistan that Kashmiris be allowed to cross back and forth between the two zones of a region claimed in its entirety by both countries, reports News Telegraph.