Lahore/Gandhinagar | The Dosti bus service connecting Delhi and Lahore has been restricted to Wagah border by Pakistan for the first time since the bus link with India was launched in 1999.
Increased terror threats were cited by Pakistan for the decision as a result of which passengers will now have to change buses at Wagah border on both directions and not be able to travel in a single bus between the two countries.
The bus service between the two countries was started on March 16, 1999 primarily to enhance people-to-people contacts following an initiative by the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation(PTDC) today said the Pakistan-India Dosti bus service will now on be operated only up to Wagah Border. The PTDC has shifted the entire bus operation at its sub-office at Wagah. Passengers leaving for New Delhi and Amritsar from Lahore will now have to catch another bus at Wagah.
Similarly, those arriving in Lahore from across the border by the service will disembark at Wagah too and switch buses, an official of PTDC said in Lahore. He said the decision has been taken in the wake of growing terror threats. After the Taliban militants killed 150 people, mostly children at an army-run school in Peshawar on December 16, the Nawaz Sharif government is not taking chances with regard to security matters.
Reacting to Pakistan’s move, India hoped that if there are temporary aberrations it will be sorted out and that the bus service wuld ply in accordance with the vision of Vajpayee and Sharif.
It (the bus service) is an initiative which our former PM and the PM of Pakistan took way back. We hope that it would ply in accordance with their vision and if there are temporary aberrations, we hope these will be sorted, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruuddin told reporters in Gandhinagar.
The spokesperson said the restriction is in force since December 31 last. If there are security concerns that Pakistan is expressing on its side then it is for Pakistan to decide what is in their best interest in terms of security, he said.
Earlier, police used to escort the buses from Wagah to Lahore’s Gulberg and Nankana Sahib terminals. Similarly, the police used to provide escort to the Dosti buses from Gulberg and Nankana Sahib to Wagah. Although it will cause hassles for the passengers of the both sides but we have taken the steps for their security, the official said, adding the government might consider restoring the old terminals (Gulberg and Nankana Sahib) after reviewing the law and order situation.
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