Kashmir Buses Set Off Quietly Despite Rebel Threat
21 April 2005
Srinagar: The second bus run linking Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, a major symbol of revived hopes of peace between South Asia's nuclear rivals, began quietly and peacefully on Thursday despite threats of violence. Twenty-two Indian Kashmiris and 11 Pakistanis who arrived on the inaugural service on April 7 left for the 170-km (105-mile) drive to Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir, officials said. Four Muslim groups fighting Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region at the centre of 60 years of war and hostility between India and Pakistan have threatened to turn the cross-border buses into coffins. They attacked a complex housing passengers for the first run in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's main city, on the eve of the inaugural service, but did not stop it. No passengers were hurt. The two buses that left Srinagar on Thursday were escorted by police under tight security. At an informal leaders' summit in New Delhi last week, India and Pakistan declared their peace process irreversible after coming close to a fourth war in 2002 and said neither would tolerate militant attacks on the Kashmir bus run.