Now, Anyone Can Board Bus To PoK

21 May 2009
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: The Mumbai attack may have reduced air traffic between India and Pakistan, but the road to PoK is still smooth. In fact, rules for cross-LoC bus travel have been relaxed to facilitate more passenger traffic, in a step towards realising PM Manmohan Singh's dream of making borders with Pakistan irrelevant. Earlier, members of divided families alone could board the Karavan-e-Aman. Now, however, anyone who can give two references from PoK can travel across the border on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad peace bus. Kashmir regional passport officer BS Manavalansaid the new rules were framed a long time ago and okayed by the Centre in January but could not be implemented. 'There was confusion on both sides over selection of passengers. But we are now clear and anyone who wishes to travel to PoK can board the bus. The only condition is s-he should provide details of two people across the border who they know. These need not necessarily be members of divided families,' he said. People wishing to travel by the bus do not need a valid passport but a permit issued by the passport officer in Kashmir. 'Anyone can apply for the permit now. The application with two references will be verified and a permit issued,' Manavalan said. CM Omar Abdullah welcomed the move. 'We have been pressing for it for a long time. We want no restrictions on the bus, rules easy and procedures simple,' he told DNA.