Srinagar - Muzaffarabad Bus Route
India-Pakistan relations goes in a confidence building bus drive. The two countries have agreed to flag off a bus service on April 7 between Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir, India and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This was jointly announced in Islamabad on Wednesday, 16th Feb 2005 by external affairs minister Natwar Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Khursheed Kasuri.
No passport or visa will be required for travel on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus. "Travel will be by an entry permit system, once identities are established," said the joint statement issued by Singh and Kasuri. The regional passport officer, Srinagar - a ministry of external affairs functionary - will grant permits to travellers coming from Pakistan, and the deputy commissioner, Muzaffarabad, to Indian visitors.
The joint statement said the application forms for the entry permits would be available in Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Any Indian or Pakistani can take this bus, but not a third country national. The permit will allow visitors from Pakistan to travel in J&K but not beyond. Similarly, visitors from India taking the bus will be allowed to travel in PoK, Gilgit, Baltistan and the Northern Areas - in other words, to areas that defined the territories of undivided Kashmir - but not beyond. Indications are that the service will be either weekly or fortnightly.
Briefing journalists, foreign secretary Shyam Saran said that this simplified procedure was a "humanitarian" one, aimed at making it relatively hassle-free for the ordinary Kashmiri to go across and meet relatives and friends. He stressed that the arrangement was "without prejudice to the position of either side on Kashmir".