POONCH, JAMMU AND KASHMIR, INDIA —
In a bid to strengthen ties between neighboring India and Pakistan, the state transport department of India's northern province rejoiced over the faster clearance of transit permits for the bus service to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Nostalgia ruled hearts when long separated cousins from India and Pakistan got to meet each other due to the regular bus service that has emerged out of strengthened bonds between the two countries.
Citing confidence from both nations that is apparent in the faster clearance of permits, the Custodian of Cross Line of Control (LOC) Travel, Mohammed Bashir Lone, predicted flourishing ties.
“The CBM [Confidence Building Measure] is running smoothly from both the countries and it is flourishing everyday. Both the nations are expressing confidence towards the CBM and while earlier the clearance used to take two to two and half years, now we procure the clearance in maximum three months by the grace of God,” he said.
Passengers who travelled from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to India's Kashmir rejoiced over meeting their long separated relatives.
“I am feeling great after I met my brothers and sisters whom I had not met for long. I liked the place and I don't feel like going back. I feel like coming back to India to be able to stand by my cousins when they need me,” said a passenger from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Mohd Takeel.
Frontier violence had taken a toll on the trade and travel between the two nations on earlier occasions and this appears a welcoming step towards easing the existent Line of Control (LOC) tensions.
Diplomats from both nations met earlier to form a Joint Working Group to work for enhancement in India-Pakistan relationship.
The relationship between the two neighbors has faced heat despite repeated attempts from both sides through trade and transit measures.
The two nuclear-armed countries have fought two wars over Kashmir but had sought to ease access and commerce in a region at the heart of more than 60 years of hostility.
Both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif, who took power last year, are keen to rebuild ties and diplomats say closer integration of Pakistan with India's giant economy could lay the ground for improving political relations.