May 2004 News

Srinagar bus idea may be dropped

7 May 2004
The Nation
Shaiq Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India are most likely to drop the very idea of starting MuzaffarabadSrinagar bus service as the diplomatic efforts aimed at removing differences on the issue have failed to yield the desired results. Despite the twice postponed technical level talks on Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service in the recent past Islamabad and New Delhi have been insistent in rejecting the impression of any differences over the issue and they have been terming it a minor problem that has arisen out of schedule conflict. However, well- placed sources confided to The Nation on Friday that after unsuccessful attempts to do away with divergent views between South Asian nuclear states on travel documents etc both the governments have almost decided to put this issue on the back burner. Only a day before the talks, the foreign ministries in Islamabad and New Delhi had announced that after mutual consultations they have postponed the technical level talks on historic bus service scheduled for 8-9 April. Before that the talks were scheduled for the last week of March. ' Fresh dates would be worked out through diplomatic channels later,' the two identical statements issued in Pakistani and Indian capitals on April 8, said. However, those diplomatic channels could not deliver in terms of finalising new schedule for the talks, the sources said. They said despite hectic engagements on diplomatic front Islamabad had been adamant to stick to its stance of travel under the auspices of UN documents whereas the Indian authorities were preferring to use passports of the two countries for the purpose. A source said that the Islamabad's refusal to issue visas to a transport minister and other officials from Indian Held Kashmir led to the postponement of talks to be held on April 8-9. Pakistani authorities believed that any such step would have been taken as Islamabad recognising the Occupied Kashmir government, he added. 'Both the sides have also been unable to remove irritants as far as this issue is concerned,' the source said, adding that now any breakthrough on the issue needed intervention from the topmost offices of the two countries as the junior authorities have failed to break the impasse on the matter. The sources said that both the countries earlier agreed to start bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad as a part of confidence building measures aimed at lowering tension between the nuclear states, but the stalemate over the historic route was also likely to impact the more important dialogue on the Kashmir issue.


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