February 2005 News

LoC travel decision welcomed in AJK: Militant group calls it insignificant

16 February 2005
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad: People in Azad Kashmir on Wednesday welcomed the agreement between India and Pakistan to restart Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service , but a leading militant group said the step carried no importance unless the 'core issue' was addressed. As soon as TV channels aired the news about the agreement, it became the talk of the town in the AJK capital with people in markets and streets discussing the likely mode of transportation across the Line of Control. Those who have relatives in the held Kashmir were more excited as for decades it had been impossible for them to obtain Indian visa to visit their near and dear ones. 'If you ask me how I feel about it, I will say I am more than happy. Even if they allow me to go on foot I will not waste a single moment,' said shopkeeper Abdus Sattar. 66-year Abdul Sattar, hailing from village Magam in the Indian held Kashmir, congratulated President Pervez Musharraf and former Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee for making the agreement possible. 'And, of course, the new Indian leadership also deserves credit for that,' he told Dawn. Housewife Hafiza Bano could not control her emotions when she heard the 'long awaited news' at a TV channel. Ms Bano, a resident of Srinagar who was married to her cousin in Muzaffarabad in 1980, had last visited her parents 21 years ago. Soon she called her family in Srinagar to congratulate them. They reciprocated and asked her to try to catch the first bus to Srinagar. 'My mother was also crying. She wants to see me as early as possible. I pray there is no hurdle in start of bus service so that I am able to fulfil her desire' she said in a choked voice. Shopkeeper Ziauddin Pirzada, 34, was also unequivocal in lending support to the agreement. 'I am excited. It is an encouraging development and a positive effort to help divided families see each other,' he said. Echoing his view, his neighbour Sakhi Mohammad said 'I hope India and Pakistan would let buses move between the two capitals as soon as possible.' A big guerrilla group Hizbul Mujahideen, however, offered a careful response, neither categorically opposing nor supporting the agreement. 'It (agreement) does not carry any importance to the Mujahedin and the freedom seeking people of Kashmir,' Hizb spokesman Salim Hashmi told Dawn on telephone. 'We don't think the situation in Kashmir can be changed with such things. If someone thinks so he is victim of self-deception.' Mr Hashmi said there had been a number of CBMs between India and Pakistan, but they failed to bring any relief to the Kashmiris. 'Killings in Kashmir are still going on. As long as Kashmir issue stands un-resolved such cosmetic measures would hardly deliver any good', he added.


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