Kashmir Bus Deal Incites Mixed Reactions
18 February 2005
New Delhi: Three Kashmiri militant groups have declared their opposition to the newly agreed bus service between India and Pakistan, and have threatened to disrupt it. The threat, reported Friday by News International, a Pakistani news service, prompted worries about security for passengers using the service. The bus service, one of several announcements made after a meeting of the two countries' foreign ministers Wednesday in Pakistan, is widely seen as a positive development. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw commended the move, and Kashmiri politicians on both sides of the Line of Control which divides the region welcomed the decision. The leader of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Sikandar Hayat, described the move as a 'breakthrough in resolving the core issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.' But India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party criticized India's decision to drop a demand for passports to be used as entry documents. Militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir were more vocal in their opposition. Mufti Abdur Rauf, a spokesman for the outlawed militant Jaish-e-Mohammed group, said: 'This will weaken the idea of Kashmir uniting with Pakistan. This is a conspiracy by India to weaken jihad (holy war).'