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Sayeed visits Kalian De Khan bridge on LoC

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
March 13, 2005 21:28 IST
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday visited the Kalian De Khan bridge on the Line of Control, the first dignitary to do so in over half a century.

Mufti visited the last Indian picket on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in north Kashmir's Uri sector to take stock of the preparedness for the bus service to be launched on April 7.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will flag off the first bus, in which 30 locals are expected to travel to meet members of their divided families living in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Mufti walked a few steps on the bridge that is being repaired by both India and Pakistan on a war footing to meet the April 7 deadline.

The CM said Jammu and Kashmir will become the bridge of friendship between India and Pakistan. He dismissed apprehensions that the re-opening of the road will result in an increase in militancy.

"A year ago nobody believed that the road to Muzaffarabad could be opened," Mufti told accompanying journalists.

When signposts depicting the distance between various places in Kashmir and Muzaffarabad were being erected in the valley many laughed at the idea, he noted.

He said the bus service would be fortnightly initially.

He described the opening of the Jhelum Valley road as the 'mother of all confidence building measures' taken so far by India and Pakistan to normalise relations.

Earlier, on his arrival at Uri, senior army officers informed him that the road would be completed by March 31.

Sayeed also inspected work on the upcoming Tourist Reception Centre at Salamabad.


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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar