Lahore-Amritsar bus crosses Wagah border

The first bus connnecting two Punjabs carried 39 passengers including Pak officials and folk singers on board.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 15:48 IST

In another milestone in India-Pakistan relations, the first bus from Lahore to Amritsar arrived at the Wagah border on Friday.

There were 39 passengers on board the bus connecting the two Punjabs.

Among those on the bus were renowned Pakistani folk singer Reshma's seven-member troupe and three Indians who had gone to Lahore to watch the first Pakistan-India Test.

The bus from Lahore has generated a lot of excitement in the area and people crowded at both sides of the border cheering the bus.

As passengers alighted from the historic bus, huge applause amidst tears of joy welcomed them. Relatives of passengers were seen holding garlands and distributing sweets while welcoming them.

The bus raised hopes of reunion among long separated relatives in both Punjabs and a chance for a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev.

Also on the bus were 14 officials of the ministries of communication, foreign affairs and interior and the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

The secretary of the Punjab Tourism and Resorts Development Department, Hasan Nawaz Tarar, and Lahore District Coordination Officer, Mian Ijaz, were there too.

The inaugural bus service was flagged off by Punjab Tourism Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal from the PTDC bus terminal in Lahore's Gulberg area.

The fare of the bus has been fixed at Rs 740 (Indian) and Rs 900 (Pakistani).

The Indian side plies its first bus from Amritsar to Lahore on January 24.

Pakistan and India will run the Lahore-Amritsar bus once a week. The Pakistani bus will leave from the PTDC office each Friday and return on Saturday while the Indian bus will reach Lahore each Tuesday and return on Wednesday.

The decision to launch the service, which is expected to enhance people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan, was taken during the third round of technical-level talks in Lahore last month.

This is the third bus service between the two countries -- after Srinagar-Muzaffarabad linking the two Kashmirs and Delhi-Lahore.

India and Pakistan have also decided to start a bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, Guru Nanak's birthplace, by Feb 27 as well as reopen a key rail link between Munabao and Khokrapar, shut down 40 years ago when the two countries went to war.

First Published: Jan 20, 2006 12:12 IST