Pakistan Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad on Friday announced that the services of Jodhpur-Karachi bound Thar Express has been stopped. This comes day after Pakistan suspended the Samjhauta Express train service with India. "We have decided to suspend the Samjhuta train service," Rasheed said while addressing a press conference here. "Till I am Railways minister, Samjhauta Express train service will not operate," he said, adding that the bogies of the train will now be used for passengers travelling on the occasion of Eid.
Reacting to Pakistan's action, Raveesh Kumar (Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson) said, "Actions taken by Pakistan unilateral.This has been done without consulting us.We've urged them to reconsider their decision.Our sense is that whatever is being done by Pak is to present an alarming picture of bilateral relationship."
"It is time for Pakistan to accept the reality and stop interfering in internal affairs of other countries. Pakistani airspace is not closed, only re-routing has been done, airspace is operational," he further added.
On being asked about the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Raveesh Kumar said, “he is not in Delhi. We have requested Pakistan for review of their decision. The timing of his return will be determined later.”
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 next three to four months are very important. War can happen, but we do not want a war. If war is waged on us, it will be the last one," the railways minister warned.
The minister made the announcement as passengers were waiting at the Lahore station to board the train to travel to India.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 July 22, 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. Pakistan's latest move comes a day after it expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Wednesday and decided to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision was taken during a National Security Committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and top civil and military leadership. India on Monday revoked Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.