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Bus service: PoK thrilled, militants unimpressed

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
February 17, 2005 18:35 IST
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The people of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir have welcomed the Indo-Pak agreement to start a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad from April 7.

However, Hizbul Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based militant group, described the initiative as 'unimportant'.

PoK Prime Minister Sardar Hayat Khan said the bus service is a major breakthrough that could ultimately lead to the resolution of the thorny Kashmir issue.

The people in Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, are excited about the new bus service. Most of them have not met their relatives, who live across the border in India, because of the long time it takes to secure a visa.

Another deterrent is the long, circuitous route they have take to visit the Kashmir valley just across the Line of Control in India.

"I am very happy and even if they allow me to go on foot I will not waste any time," said 66-year-old shopkeeper Abdus Sattar, who hails from Magam village in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hafiza Bano is very excited because she has never visited her family in Srinagar after she moved to Muzaffarabad in 1980 after getting married. "I called my mother and she was crying. She wants me to take the first bus home. I hope the bus service starts without any problem," she said.

Shopkeeper Ziauddin Pirzada also supported the agreement. "I am excited. It is a positive effort to help divided families meet," he said.

However, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin said the bus service will not improve the plight of the Kashmiris. "The bus is a failed effort to put ointment on the wounds of Kashmiris," he said.

Hizb spokesman Salim Hashmi also said the agreement is not significant. "It [the agreement] does not carry any importance to the Mujahideen and the freedom of Kashmiris," he told the local daily Dawn.

"Killings in Kashmir still continue. As long as the Kashmir issue is unresolved, such cosmetic measures won't make a difference," Hashmi added.

Also read:
Bus to Muzaffarabad from April 7
Bus service will aid militancy: RSS
Mixed reactions from Hurriyat factions
'Bus service a political compulsion'

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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