Cross-LOC Bus, Trade Resume As Tensions Ebb

SRINAGAR: India and Pakistan Monday resumed bus service across their de-facto border in Kashmir where two armies recently engaged in deadly skirmishes.

The resumption of the cross-LOC passenger bus service between two parts of divided Kashmir, suspended for a fortnight along with trade after the tensions at the Line of Control earlier this month, signals de-escalation of the situation.

Officials said 79 residents of Pakistani side of Kashmir, who had travelled to this side to meet their relatives in Poonch, returned in the bus service between Poonch and Rawalkote via Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point.

15 people from Pak Kashmir and 44 from Indian side in a total of 59 travelled in the other direction, they said.

Cross-LoC trade, which had been encouraged in recent years as a means to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, was also set to resume on Tuesday after being frozen for the last two weeks.

“We are assessing losses the traders suffered because they could not send perishable items across on time,” Shant Manu, secretary for industries and commerce was quoted as saying.

The recent flare-up along LoC saw a total of five soldiers killed earlier this month, with fears that tensions between the two countries could escalate.

Cross-border trade, which had been encouraged in recent years as a means to improve relations between the two countries, is set to resume on Wednesday after being frozen for the last two weeks.

The cross-border bus service from Poonch to Rawalakot was started in April, 2005 as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan. Agencies

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