Indo-Pak Bus Reunites 15,000 Families18 April 2011
Islamabad: It’s an anniversary that Indian and Pakistan can celebrate, together. The intra-Kashmir bus service between the Indian and the Pakistani administered parts of Kashmir has completed six years. During this time it has played its part in reuniting around 15,976 Kashmiris divided by the Line of Control (LoC). To mark the occasion, officials from Indian Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir exchanged greetings and sweets at the LoC bridge in Chakothi. Hattian Bala deputy commissioner Abdul Hameed Mughal, addressing the anniversary ceremony, said the bus service between the two parts of Kashmir was a “welcome step which had improved relations between India and Pakistan”. The Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service started on April 7, 2005, as a confidence-building measure between the two countries. Initially a fortnightly service, in August 2008 it became weekly. Following its success, another bus service was launched on June 6, 2006 between Rawalakot in Pakistan and Poonch in India. Bashir Mir, trade and travel officer of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service said that 9,581 people crossed over the LoC from Pakistan into India, while 6,395 people crossed over to Pakistan. The Indian authorities are more stringent while clearing travel documents resulting in a smaller number of passengers entering Indian Kashmir. “On average, 30 to 35% Pakistani applicants who send their forms to India are given a travel permit,” he said. Authorities are planning on issuing triple-entry forms to facilitate divided families’ journeys.