October 13, 2005

The first regular buses re-instituting the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route rumbled across the Kaman bridge on April 7 of this year, a visible symbol of the peace signed between India and Pakistan in 2004. Today, many of the telephone links between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir are unoperational, and the "bridge of peace" (aman setu) over the line of control (LoC) has collapsed (with the bridge at Chakothi and the Red Bridge [lal pul] also suffering heavy damage), with the whereabouts of the passengers of the October 6 bus yet to be confirmed.

The whereabouts of the passengers of the October 6 bus have yet to be confirmed. The departure of the October 20 bus has been delayed.

Yet Indian troops have crossed the border in peace on aid missions, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (once the primary instigator behind violent Kashmiri rebellion against India, but which had given up violence in 1994) is actively working to help those in need, and even the United Jihad Council, the major remaining independence-through-militant-action group, has suspended all its militant operations.

A physical symbol is gone ... but the reality might perhaps be the more solid for it.

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