India, Pakistan bus link restored

A bus from Pakistan carrying a sick child and 27 other passengers ended its eventful journey in the Indian capital New Delhi on Friday, marking the re-establishment of road links between the two South Asian rivals.

    Officials said the green-coloured bus that began its journey from the Pakistani city of Lahore early on Friday reached the bedecked Ambedkar Stadium bus terminus at 8:00 pm (1430 GMT).

      

    A reciprocal bus service from India with 32 people on board reached Lahore, officials in Pakistan said.

      

    Among passengers on the bus from Pakistan was two-year-old Noor Fatima Sajjad who was being taken by her mother for cardiac treatment in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

      

    "We are very happy to have reached Delhi. Noor is quite exhausted by the long ride but is in good spirits. She has a hole in her heart. Doctors back home told me a Bangalore hospital has the expertise to cure her," Tayyaba Sajjad told reporters, adding she was very happy to be in India.

     

    Police from the two countries escorted the vehicles through their 12-hour journeys.

     

    Emotions run high

     

    Indians aboard the bus to Pakistan shared a moment of joy with passengers from Pakistan as the two buses crossed paths in the northern Indian state of Punjab.

      

    "It was an emotional moment when the green-colored bus came from the opposite direction as it too carried people like us who are eager to start new relationships," said passenger Virendra Kumar.

      

    Just hours after the resumption of the bus service, India said it was ready to resume airlinks with Pakistan.

      

    "We are ready for the resumption of airlinks and overflight facilities with Pakistan, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said, adding that New Delhi was awaiting a response from Islamabad.

      

    The buses are the first cross-border transport links between the neighbours since ties snapped after a December 13, 2001, attack on the Indian parliament by Kashmiri fighters who New Delhi says were backed by Islamabad. Pakistan denies the charge.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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