January 2004 News

Permits not visas for Srinagar Bus

20 January 2004
The Nation
Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India are most likely to reach an agreement for the issuance of special travel permits for MuzaffarabadSrinagar bus service instead of visas, The Nation reliably learnt Tuesday. 'The two countries have almost agreed upon doing away with the visa requirements for road travel between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and they are likely to come up with a decision to issue special permits to the people in this regard,' the sources said. They said that the issue was thoroughly discussed through diplomatic channels by the two countries and it also figured in the meeting between Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri here at the Foreign Office. The travel permits would be issued by some competent authorities in Muzaffarabad and Srinagar to facilitate the people. The senior government official appointed for the purpose would be authorised to to give permit, the sources said. AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikander Hayat recently held important meetings with senior government officials in Islamabad and discussed matters pertaining to the repair of Muzaffarabad Srinagar road. The prime minister informed the Pakistani officials that the repair work would be carried out quickly. A Press statement issued after the meeting between the Foreign Minister and Indian High Commissioner said that developments in the relations between Pakistan and India following the meeting between the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India earlier this month were reviewed on the occasion. In this context they also discussed the process of composite dialogue starting next month. It may be recalled that the joint Press statement, issued after the meeting between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee had underlined that the resumption of composite dialogue will lead to a peaceful settlement of all issues including Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Office Spokesman Masood Khan said that matters pertaining to the composite dialogue were discussed in the meeting. He said it was decided to sort out the modalities of dialogue through diplomatic channels. He said that this process would be completed soon. The Indian High Commissioner also held meeting with Speaker National Assembly Chaudhry Amir Hussain and discused matters of mutual interest. It was agreed on the occasion that both the countries should opt for dialogue to resolve their bilateral problems. According to a statement, the NA Speaker said the history had provided India and Pakistan a unique opportunity to normalise bilateral relations and it must be seized to bring healthy changes in the life of their citizens. He asked the High Commissioner to support Pakistan in its bid to revive Commonwealth membership. He reminded the High Commissioner of Pakistan's support for India in the InterParliamentary Union election in Egypt and hoped that India would reciprocate in Commonwealth.


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