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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 12:42 GMT
India-Pakistan buses close down
The first bus leaving Delhi for Lahore, 1999
The first bus from Delhi in 1999 needed a police escort
By Ayanjit Sen in Delhi

The historic Delhi-Lahore bus run by the Delhi Transport Corporation has embarked on its last journey from Delhi to Lahore.

It is sad the bus service has failed to repair the relationship between the two countries, but war is not a solution

Passenger Maqbool Khan
The Indian Government has decided to halt the service as part of diplomatic steps to make Pakistan crack down against militants blamed for the attack on parliament in Delhi.

The bus service began two years ago when Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee himself travelled on the bus in its inaugural run, in what was described as a goodwill gesture.

It was the first bus service of its kind to Pakistan since the independence of these two countries.

Bitter cold

Gloom marked the departure of the last bus to Pakistan. It was clear that most of the 33 passengers heading for Lahore were sad leaving their relatives and friends.

A Pakistani woman bids farewell on the train to Delhi
Train services are being suspended too

In dense fog and bitter cold, the passengers were huddled with those who had come to see them off at the bus station.

Maqbool Khan from Lahore told the BBC the bus service had been a vital link between the people of these two countries.

"It is sad the bus service has failed to repair the relationship between the two countries. But war is not a solution.

"Both India and Pakistan should hold talks to solve the problems between the two countries," Mr Khan said.

Cheap travel

The bus journey to Lahore normally takes about 12 hours.

It is also one of the cheapest forms of travel between the two countries.

The first bus from Delhi started taking passengers from March 1999.

The last bus run by the Pakistan Road Transport Corporation from Lahore to Delhi is expected to reach Delhi on Friday evening and set off back to Pakistan on Saturday.

The Delhi-Lahore bus service has been a commercial success.

Even the conflict in Kargil in Indian-administered Kashmir two years ago or the military take over in Pakistan last year could not stop the run of this gold-brown luxury bus.

The bus service was one of the last symbols of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

See also:

27 Dec 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan crisis deepens
26 Dec 01 | South Asia
US adds pressure on Pakistan
24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan freezes militant funds
28 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK urges Pakistan action on terror
08 Jan 99 | South Asia
India-Pakistan bus arrives
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