Politicians Don't Want To Miss The Bus To Peace
29 March 2005
The Times of India
Srinagar: It is meant to boost people-to-people contacts and build confidence among hostile neighbours. But trust any politician to miss a propaganda bus. As the 19-seater bus trundles out of Srinagar towards a historic border crossing into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, it's much space will be taken up by politicians of all hues. Among 10 politicians who have sought rides to Muzaffarabad on April 7 are National Conference president Omar Abdullah, the ruling PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and J&K deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma, Congress party politician. The politicians filed applications to board the first bus after India and Pakistan apparently agreed to consider such requests by politicians from both sides and not just members of the public who wanted to be reunited with their families across the LoC. The first bus headed from PoK to Srinagar is to carry its share of public figures too. According to lists exchanged by the two governments, many retired judges, lawyers and politicians were likely to be on the bus. According to sources in Srinagar, the decision to allow politicians of two parts of Kashmir to travel was taken at the highest level after chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed convinced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the importance to allow politicians to travel in one of the two buses that will be flagged off from Srinagar. Omar Abdullah told The Times of India he had filled up the forms and if Pakistan had no objections, he along with party colleague, A R Rather would be boarding the Muzaffarabad bus.