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Pakistan, India Agree to Launch Bus Services Next Year

Pakistan and India Wednesday signed two agreements on the commencement of two bus services, one will be launched next month, according to a joint statement.

The statement, issued at the conclusion of the third round of India-Pakistan technical level talks, said that a bus service between the Indian city of Amritsar and the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore will begin on January 20.

The bus, covering a 45-kilometer route, will link the two countries via their only international land crossing at Wahgah.

Another bus service between Amritsar and the Pakistani city of Nankana Sahib in the Punjab province will be launched in February with holding its trial on January 27 2006, the statement said.

The town of Nankana Sahib is the birth place of the founder of Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak Devji Sahib.

Therefore, this bus service will facilitate thousands of Indian Sikhs to directly reach Nankana Sahib from Amritsar, the capital of Indian Punjab.

According to a joint statement, the first Pakistani bus would leave for Amritsar on January 20, while from Amritsar Indian Bus would leave for Lahore on January 24, 2006.

The Pakistani bus would ply from Lahore to Amritsar on every Friday and return on Saturday while the Indian bus would ply from Amritsar to Lahore on every Tuesday and return on Wednesday.

Regarding Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service, two sides decided that the trial run would take place from Amritsar on January 27 and from Nankana Sahib to Amritsar on January 29, 2006.

Regular operation of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service would commence within a month from the trial run.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Communication Muhammad Abbas led the Pakistani side at the talks in Lahore, some 300 kilometers south of Islamabad, while India was led by Joint Secretary of the Department of Road Transport and Highways Saroj Kumar Dash.

The meeting was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, according to the statement.

At present Pakistan has two bus services, one between Lahore and New Delhi and the other between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar. The latter was opened in April this year.

The latest move to increase people-to-people contact is part of the peace process initiated between the countries in January 2004.

(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2005)

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