Islamabad: Pakistan has closed the Samjhauta Express train service with India, Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Thursday, a day after Islamabad downgraded the diplomatic ties with New Delhi. Addressing a press conference here, Rasheed said the bogies of the Samjhauta Express will now be used for passengers travelling on the occasion of Eid.
“Till I am Railways minister, Samjhauta Express train service will not operate,” he was quoted as saying by the Geo TV. The Samjhauta Express train service was suspended earlier this year, due to escalating tensions between the two neighbouring countries. However, the service was later resumed.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for “agreement”, comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on 22 July 1976 under the Simla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations. On the Indian side, the train runs from Delhi to Attari and from Lahore to Wagah on the Pakistan side.
Reacting to the decision, Pakistan on Wednesday expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, soon after deciding to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move. “Recent decisions by the government and Parliament of India are driven by a commitment to extending to Jammu and Kashmir opportunities for development that were earlier denied by a temporary provision in the Constitution,” the MEA said.
It said the intention behind Pakistan’s announcement on downgrading diplomatic ties was to present “an alarming picture to the world of our bilateral ties”. The government of India regrets the steps announced by Pakistan on Wednesday and would urge that country to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved,” the MEA said. India’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir will result in the removal of gender and socio-economic discrimination.