Quake Strains 58-Year-Old Fault Line

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The latest face-off between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Oct. 8 earthquake centers on the question of how to deliver aid across the heavily fortified Line of Control that divides Kashmir.

That line is the central source of their dispute of more than a half-century - as well as virtually the epicenter of the quake. Since it struck, the two sides have fired off proposals and counterproposals on how to best assist survivors on each side. Relief has been offered and rejected. Credit and blame have been assigned.

Asked about his relationship with the government of India, the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, testily told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Friday, "If they don't trust me, I don't trust them." He added, "It's mutual."

Later that day, Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian defense minister, responded in kind. One earthquake, he told the BBC, "cannot alter the history of the last 50 years."

Last Tuesday, General Musharraf suggested to reporters in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that the two countries should open the Line of Control, to help Kashmiris on both sides. On Saturday, India proposed that quake victims living in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir be allowed to avail themselves of medical relief at three points on the Indian side. Pakistan countered that Kashmiris on each side should be allowed to cross at five points, and not just for medical help. On Sunday, the comments from each capital made clear that no deal was imminent.

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