Villagers in Pakistani Kashmir hail cease-fire with India

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Pakistani villagers living on one of the world’s most militarized frontiers in the disputed Kashmir region Monday hailed a two-month-long cease-fire between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India.

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But residents also demanded a solution to the decades-old issue of Kashmir and a durable peace for the Himalayan region. Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Villagers spoke with journalists who were taken to Salohi village in Pakistan-administered Kashmir by the military. The visit came two months after the Pakistani and Indian armies pledged to halt cross-border fighting and adhere to a 2003 accord that has been largely ignored in Kashmir.

Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and is claimed by both in its entirety.

Since February’s landmark announcement, the cease-fire has been holding. It has enabled residents to freely harvest crops, do their business and move around in the region.

“We are happy because of this ceasefire but we also want to see a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem,” said farmer Mohammad Razaq.

Standing beside him, villager Afzal Ahmed suggested the resumption of peace talks between Pakistan and India but he said Kashmiris should be included in any discussions. He said they have spent most of their lives in fear of war.

Prior to the cease-fire, residents were caught in the cross-fire of clashes between Pakistani and Indian troops that caused civilian casualties.

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