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Passengers on April 7 will travel free: Pakistan

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD, MARCH 29. In a special gesture over the commencement of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, the Prime Minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, has announced that passengers on the first bus on April 7 would travel free of cost.

"This is a mere beginning and not the end. I think this is the first step towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute," Mr. Khan told the Voice Of America in response to a question. Mr. Khan argued that the U.N. has given a right to the Kashmiri people to move freely across the border from either side. At the same time, he said that commencement of the bus service was not a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

`No permanent solution'

He said India and Pakistan would resolve their disputes through talks but as far as Kashmir was concerned, Kashmiris were an important party to the dispute. He urged the international community to help resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the "aspirations" of the Kashmiri people. Mr. Khan said all arrangements, including repairing roads, had been completed in preparation for the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service. As per arrangements between India and Pakistan, passengers would travel by a local bus up to the Line of Control (LoC) and cross the point on foot before boarding another bus.

The first bus would carry 30 passengers from each side. While the road it would take has not been used since 1947, surrounding areas have been de-mined and work was being carried out at a rapid pace to construct shelters for passengers.

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