NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan agreed to simplify travel procedures and increase the frequency of bus services for cross-LoC (Line of Control) travel in disputed Kashmir on Wednesday.
The decision was among the Kashmir-related confidence building measures (CBMs) the two countries unveiled at a meeting between Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar and Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
“Cross-LoC travel would be expanded on both sides of the LoC” said a joint statement issued after Khar-Krishna meeting.
It said travel across the LoC will now “include visits for tourism and religious pilgrimage. In this regard, the modalities will be worked out by both sides.”
Earlier, bus service was only for families. The two countries also decided that facilities, including waiting area, terminal and clearing procedures would be streamlined at the crossing points for “smooth cross-LoC travel”.
The two sides also decided to relax travel permit conditions by having a system of six-month multiple entry permit. Validity of the entry permit till now was only for four weeks.
“Application forms and requisite documentation in respect of travel across LoC will be exchanged by email between designated authorities of both sides. Such email transfer of application forms will be backed up by hard copies,” statement said. This will expedite the travel applications processing time, which shall not be more than 45 days now.