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First Dosti bus from Lahore brings Reshma
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, January 20
Named ‘‘Dosti’’ (friendship), the bus from Pakistan that entered Indian territory today flaunting the national flags of both the countries on its front screen, bridged the gap between two Punjabs (East and West), that were divided by the Radcliff Line 58 years ago.

However, the famous folk singer from Pakistan, Reshma, who got her air tickets cancelled to board the inaugural bus, was the star attraction on the occasion. The melodious voice of Reshma, who was accompanied by her daughter and other relatives wafted through the Joint Check Post and there was pin drop silence as everyone listened with rapt attention.

For Reshma it’s been a ‘‘lambi judaai’’ (long separation) from Amritsar and her fans welcomed her with open arms today. It has been over two decades since she sang the song ‘‘lambi judaai’’ for Subhash Ghai’s film ‘Hero’. ‘‘I really wanted to pay obeisance at Harmander Sahib’’, she said.

The people showered rose petals as the Punjab Police band played the song ‘‘Ghar aaya mera pardesi…’’ when the bus entered the Indian territory.

As music knows no barriers so a few stanzas from her famous songs like ‘‘Hai o rabba nahion lagda dil mera …’’ enthralled all those who had gathered here to welcome the ‘‘Dosti’’ bus.

Born in Bikaner, near the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, Reshma’s family had migrated to Pakistan at the time of Partition.

‘‘What is the difference between India and Pakistan? We’re one people, one nation. There is no difference in the minds of artists and common man,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, the third road link between the two countries opened today as the first Lahore-Amritsar bus crossed the Joint Check Post at the Wagah border a little behind the scheduled time of 11.30 am. The bus from Pakistan would arrive in Amritsar every Friday and would return the next day. The Indian bus ‘‘Punj Aab’’ (named after five rivers in the state) will leave every Tuesday and would return on Wednesday. In all 26 persons, including four Indians, Pak officials and mediapersons arrived here today.

The trial run on the Amritsar-Lahore bus route had been completed in December. Two road links operational earlier were the Delhi-Lahore and Srinagar-Muzaffarabad links, while the only open rail link is between Lahore and Attari. Two more road and rail links are expected to become operational in February, when the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus and Munnabao-Khokrapar train services will start.

The first-ever bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, linking the city of Golden Temple with the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev — the founder of the Sikh faith— will begin by next month-end.

Pakistan and India launched their first bus link between Delhi and Lahore in 1999. The service resumed in July 2003 after being suspended following the attack on Parliament. The second bus link opened between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in PoK in April last year.

Mr Fardosh Alam , Joint Secretary , Ministry of Communication, Pakistan, hoped that there was possibility of opening Visa Centres at Amritsar and Lahore so that the passengers did not face inconvenience . ‘‘With the grace of Allahtala the bus service will bring people of both the countries closer. The bus service would also help in increasing trade between both the countries’’, he said and added that people from Pakistan were very much excited and a large number of them had gathered at Lahore to witness the flagging off ceremony.

Mr Sardul Singh , Excise Minister , Mr Raj Kumar, an MLA , Mr Sunil Dutti, Mayor Municipal Corporation, Mr Kirandip Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner and Mr Narinderjit Singh, State Transport Director, were among those who received the bus.


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