Poonch residents want Pakistan authorities to ease travel regulations

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Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir), Apr 1 (ANI): Residents of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district are disappointed over non-clearance of their travel papers for years from Pakistani side.

The exhausting delay for clearance of travel related papers, needed for gaining permission to travel across the border through bus, has become a major problem for these people here.

Only two passengers from the Indian side could visit Rawalkot during the last trip of bus running between India and Pakistan. These passengers had submitted their papers in 2005.

Locals fear that if things remain unchanged, Poonch-Rawalakot bus service may be discontinued.

"For the last one-and-a-half months I have been asking and requesting them (Pakistani authorities) for verification of my papers. There are around 3,000 forms pending for verification and we are requesting them to clear them, so that people can move across. If things remain unchanged then it may be possible that people stop moving to the other side," said Mohammad Hussain, another resident of the district.

Residents here want special permits issued after verification procedures from both sides to travel from Poonch in India to Rawalakot in Pakistan.

"More than three years have been passed...During earthquake (2005 Kashmir earthquake), I lost several of my relatives. The government had assured us that we would be allowed to visit Pakistani Kashmir within eight days. More than three years have already passed but promises remain unfulfilled. There is no problem from the Indian side but delay is caused from Pakistan side. Years have passed but paper verification remains incomplete," said Mohammad Riyaz, a resident in Poonch.

"Due to this we are facing lot of problems. Whom should I meet after three year of quake?," Riyaz questioned.

Poonch-Rawalakot bus service was started in 2006, a year after the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Commencement of bus services between India and Pakistan are widely viewed as one of the finest confidence building measures and a part of futuristic peace process. By Pradeep Sharma (ANI)

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