If the Uri terror attack was expected to put a stop to the weekly Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, it didn‚Äôt happen. The bus called Caravan-e-Aman (Caravan of peace) plied as usual on Monday leaving Srinagar early in the morning with eight passengers on board.
‚ÄúThe Government has no objection to the bus so far,‚ÄĚ the sub-divisional magistrate Showkat Ahmad told the media. Ahmad is a nodal officer for the facilitation of bus service between the two countries.
The bus crossed over to PoK after due frisking of the passengers and the checking of their luggage.
Started in April 2005, the cross-LoC bus was billed as the biggest Confidence Building Measure between India and Pakistan on Kashmir since 1947. It was the outcome of the sustained peace process between Vajpayee and Musharraf and later between Manmohan Singh and Musharraf.¬† Though only a limited number of the persons travel through the bus ‚Äď the travel is limited to the divided families only – it stands as a symbolism of the normalcy between the two countries.
The cross-LoC travel was later followed up with cross-LoC trade between the two Kashmirs. Started in October 2008, and evolving further since the re-opening of cross-LoC routes for the movement of people in April 2005, cross-LoC trade has, however, remained stuck in symbolism and politics rather than economics.
The move was geared to foster economic interdependence between the two parts of Kashmir and ameliorate the political conflict, but it has achieved little success on this score. The trade has been struggling to retain its relevance to the evolving discourse over the state. It continues to be impeded by barriers such as the barter exchange of goods, lack of communication and banking channels, deficient legal contract enforcement, limit on tradable goods and structural difficulties in free movement.