Following a terror alert, buses plying between India and Pakistan will no longer be allowed to enter into Pakistani territory but will restrict their journey to the Wagah border. From Wagah, the passengers will travel further in buses arranged by the Pakistani authorities.
“We had received an intelligence input that suggested that buses running between India and Pakistan, especially the Delhi-Lahore bus, might be targeted by terrorists in Pakistan. The input was shared with Pakistani authorities through the ministry of external affairs,” said a Union home ministry official requesting anonymity.
From now on, the Amritsar-Lahore, Amritsar-Nankana Sahib and the Delhi-Lahore buses will be stopped at the Wagah check post, just across the international border.
It has been learnt that the buses could be a likely target for terror outfits since they have a specific identity and have flags of both countries.
The India-Pakistan bus and train services have been on the terror radar ever since the Wagah flag-lowering ceremony was targeted by terrorists on the Pakistani side in November last year which led to the killing of over 60 people. Confirming this, a Border Security Force spokesperson said, “As per our information, not only the regular Indian bus but also the regular Pakistani bus will not be entering Lahore city. All the passengers will be taken forward in private buses.”
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the restrictions have been put in place after December 31. “This is an initiative which our former PM Atal Bhihari Vajpayee and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif started. We hope that it would ply in accordance with their vision and if there are temporary aberrations, we hope these will be sorted,” said Akbaruddin in Gandhinagar on the sidelines of the 13th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas.
The bus service between Delhi and Lahore was started on March 16, 1999. “This is unfortunate. If the Indian government can give security to the buses for a stretch of 500 km then why can’t the Pakistani government do the same for a distance of over 20 kilometres?” asked Delhi-Lahore bus driver Dharam Pal.
“This has been done for our security but I feel the government should stress on increasing security of buses further and allow it till Lahore.” said Nafisa, a passenger.
(With PTI inputs)