MUZAFFARABAD: Cheered by Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa’s assurances that all will be set right in the areas along the Line of Control, residents of areas hit by shelling say their sense of purpose and security has been restored.
The impact of General Qamar’s maiden address was such that the areas under Indian shelling have gradually started to become normal again.
Hotels, guesthouses and other recreational centres in the 200-kilometers long scenic Neelum Valley are also back to business.
“The army chief’s statement about peace along LoC was encouraging. It gave us sense of security to resume the routine business activities in Athmuqam, district headquarters of Neelum Valley,” said Abdul Salam, a local trader. Neelum Valley was one of the worst hit areas since 1990 to 2003.
In 2003 General (retd) Musharraf had announced the ceasefire on LoC. But since 2014 there have been sporadic skirmishes along the LoC.
The clashes between the two nuclear states reached a pinnacle after the Indian forces attacked a passenger bus in the Neelum Valley area killing at least 11 civilians.
“Our business goes about as usual between October and March as most people prefer to visit the areas during winters however, there are a few people who come to the northern areas to enjoy the snowfall,” said businessman Hayat Awan, while expressing hope that both the countries honour the ceasefire for the larger interest of South Asia.
According to unofficial stats, Neelum Valley attracts more than one million visitors every year who stay in more than 600 hotels and guest houses in the valley.
The tourism business in the scenic valley was widely affected by the firing along the LoC that has so far killed dozens and injured many more. Indian forces have violated the ceasefire on the LoC more than 300 times in Nakyal, Bhimber, Kotli and Hajeera sectors during the last 11 months.
“It is good to see the schools reopen .Hustle and bustle in the markets of LoC areas. I hope that India will not repeat its mistake to violate the ceasefire in the region,” a local Saeed Shah said.
Transporters in the region also pinned hope on the military and political leadership of the country to maintain peace along the LoC.
“Continuous tension on the LoC dents our business and transporters are the worst victims of the LoC unrest. We need to stop this violence for the interest of the people living along LoC,” said Gulnawaz Khan, another resident of the valley.
People in Nakyal, Battal and Bhimber sectors have also resumed their routine activities along LoC.
All schools, colleges, business centres and shops have remained open in all firing-hit areas of Nakyal, Hajeera and Bhimber for the last two days where public transport was back on the roads.__Tribune.com