Srinagar, May 4: The decision by India and Pakistan to start a bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from June 19 and to allow plying of trucks for trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route from the first half of July has been welcomed by one and all.
''I am only overwhelmed with joy. The doctrine of Khushali will now emerge as a reality for people of both sides of the Line of Control (LoC),'' Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a statement here.
After painful and prolonged period of turmoil, a new era of economy and trade has started which will further strengthen the pillars of peace and tranquility, he added.
Mr Azad said the Poonch-Rawalakot road will help in developing Poonch and Rajouri areas to a great extent.
''The partition in 1947 left thousands of families divided. The bus service from Poonch will help in bringing these divided families together. The people will no longer have to travel all the way to Srinagar to catch the bus for Muzaffarabad,'' he added.
The Chief Minister lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for addressing the basic issues which will take Jammu and Kashmir on the road to progress and prosperity.
''It is due to the astute leadership of both India and Pakistan that such decisions are taken which will prove instrumental not only in giving a boost to the state's economy, but accelerate the economic activities of both the countries,'' he added.
Former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed also welcomed the move. In his statement, Mr Sayeed termed as historic the initiative and hoped that trade through the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road would prove a harbinger for achieving the goal of a long-lasting and dignified peace in Jammu and Kashmir besides boost socio-economic profile of the trouble-torn state.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, in her statement from New Delhi, appreciated the move, saying it was a great achievement for Kashmir-centric as well as Jammu-centric Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
Both the leaders appealed to the people to discourage the elements hell-bent upon jeopardising the ongoing peace process.
Welcoming the decision, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said it was a step ahead in the right direction to make the LoC porous at all traditional points.
The opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road for trade would certainly boost the economy of the divided Jammu and Kashmir, he added.
''It will have great psychological bearings of belonginess and renewal of bilateral relations,'' Mr Tarigami said.
He said Nowshehra-Kotli, Rajouri-Mendhar-Mahahol, Jammu-R S Pora-Sialkote should also be opened for greater people-to-people contacts and called for simplifying procedures for trans LOC visits.
The CPI(M) leader demanded that travel documents for travel on the Poonch-Rawalakot road should be issued at Jammu and not in Srinagar for ''expediency and practicality''.
''An era of peace and reconcilliation has set in. Both India and Pakistan should tirelessly work for tension-free South Asia which is in the interest of their own people,'' Mr Tarigami said.
He asserted the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be actively involved in any such process.