It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. On the occasion of the agreement to start the bus service between the Indian side of Kashmir to the Pakistani side, you have the Pakistani dictator in his Army uniform shaking hands with the Indian Foreign Minister in an image rich with symbolism. Anyways it is hard to find a democractically elected official to shake hands when you travel north from India.
Now that his breakthrough has happened, and no passports are needed for travel, the question in my mind was how do they prevent a terrorist from boarding a bus in Muzzffarabad to Srinagar ? Here is how it will work.
The history-making bus service that will for the first time link the divided parts of Kashmir from April 7 will actually be two buses whose timings will be carefully synchronised and whose passengers screened before being allowed to travel.
Titled simply LoC Crossing Permit, the application form, similar to passport application forms, will be made available at designated offices in Srinagar and Muzaffarabad alone. Open only to Indian and Pakistani nationals, not just those belonging to Kashmir, each application would require clearance from both sides.
After getting provisional clearance, the traveller from wither side would go up to the LoC checkpoint where his or her name would be handed over to immigration authorities of the other side. Only when the intending traveller gets a final go-ahead from the other side would he or she be allowed to cross the LoC and take a bus belonging to the other side that would take him to his or her destination. [Two buses, not one, will link Kashmir halves ]
- If the militants are unhappy about this, to whom do they complain ?
- Can a PoK Kashmiri entering on this LoC Crossing Permit visit other parts of India ?
Last time the Indian Prime Minister took a bus to Pakistan, we got the Kargil war. I hope this bus service remains uneventful.