October 2004 News

Bus service without passport favoured: Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route

14 October 2004
The Dawn

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on Thursday said Pakistan favoured a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar without passports and visas. 'This is not something that I am saying. I have met a large number of Indian intellectuals and they say it seems quite alright. They also say it is also consistent with India's own position,' he said while talking to reporters after addressing an international seminar here. The proposal of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service is part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) being discussed by the two countries. Mr Kasuri said he met the Kashmiri leaders in India and also in Pakistan and there was not a single leader who had said they would like to travel with passports and visas. 'These are the Kashmiri people who are going to travel and if they do not wish to travel with passports and visas, then how will the travel take place,' he added. The foreign minister said Pakistan was not laying any harsh condition. 'We are not being stubborn. It is just being reasonable.' Mr Kasuri said the expert-level meetings on Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service had been planned in November and hoped to make progress when the two foreign secretaries meet in December. The minister said that there had been a lot of increase in people-to-people contact between Pakistan and India. 'We are interested and encouraging the people-to-people contact across the Line of Control (LoC),' he added. Replying to a question, the minister said there was no change in Pakistan's stated position on Kashmir. 'Our stated position has consistently been that we need durable peace in South Asia and, for this, it is essential that Kashmiris should be satisfied with the solution,' he said. Mr Kasuri said no solution that did not reflect the aspirations of the Kashmiri people could lead to a durable peace in the region. He said it was for this reason that President Pervez Musharraf had been saying that the Kashmiri people should be involved with the peace process 'sooner rather than later'. -APP Click to learn more...


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