Buses and commerce between India and Pakistan resume as tensions ebb
AFPSRINAGAR, India -- A cross-border bus service between India and Pakistan, suspended along with trade after deadly army clashes earlier this month, resumed Monday in a sign of easing tension between the neighbors.
January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
Officials said 64 passengers from Pakistan crossed the de facto border in Kashmir into India while 84 went in the other direction on the bus service from Poonch to Rawalakot.
Cross-border trade, which had been encouraged in recent years as a means to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, was also set to resume on Tuesday after being frozen for the last two weeks.
“We are assessing losses the traders suffered because they could not send perishable items across on time,” Shant Manu, secretary for industries and commerce in Indian-held Kashmir, told AFP.
The recent flare-up along the Line of Control (LOC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan saw a total of five soldiers killed earlier this month, with fears that tensions between the two countries could escalate.
A cease-fire agreement on Jan. 16 between commanders in both armies has held, however, with politicians on both sides seen as keen to avoid wrecking recent progress in their slow-moving peace process.
The cross LOC bus service from Poonch on the Indian side to Rawalakot on the Pakistan side began in 2005 to enable members of divided families in the region to meet each other.
Another bus service that departs from the Uri sector of Indian Kashmir to the Pakistani side has been closed because of heavy snowfall in the area.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir which is administered in part by each of them but claimed in full.