Kashmiri driver thrilled to take bus
4 April 2005
Muzaffarabad: The man chosen to drive the first bus linking divided Kashmir says his selection for the job was a blessing from God and he is thrilled to be playing a part in history. Raja Pervez Khan, from Azad Kashmir, says he has no long-lost relatives on the Indian side, but he is proud to be driving the vehicle that will reunite families after decades of separation. 'I never thought that I would be the one to drive a historic bus. It is because of Allah's grace that I have been chosen,' Mr Khan told Reuters. Pakistan and India are due to launch a bus linking their parts of the Himalayan region on Thursday. The service, one of the most concrete signs of improving ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours, will link the town of Muzaffarabad, in Azad Kashmir, with Srinagar, in held Kashmir, 170km away. Khan, who has been a bus driver for 16 years, was chosen at the weekend from nearly a dozen candidates, after a driving test and interview. He will drive the bus from Muzaffarabad, up to Line of Control, where, until a 2003 cease fire, Indian and Pakistani forces regularly exchanged artillery fire.