New Delhi/Karachi: Hours after announcing that the Thar Express was suspended, Pakistan did the same for the Lahore-Delhi bus service.
Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had announced that the Thar Express, the weekly passenger train that connects Khokhrapar in Pakistan with Munabao in Barmer district of Rajasthan, will be suspended.
With this move, both the international railway links that connected India and Pakistan have been shut down by Islamabad in the backdrop of New Delhi’s decision to revoke Article 370 which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Islamabad has also announced that the Delhi-Lahore bus service, officially known as Sada-e-Sarhad, will be suspended. Murad Saeed, Pakistan’s communication minister, said in a tweet, “In line with the decisions of NSC, Pak-India bus service is suspended.”
The service was started in 1999 and was not stopped even during the Kargil war. It was only suspended once, after the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and resumed in 2003. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was on the inaugural bus service that took him for the famous Lahore Summit with the then PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.
On Thursday, Pakistan had announced that it will suspend Samjhauta Express, the bi-weekly train that connects Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. Those who had already brought Samjhota Express tickets would be refunded without any deduction, it said.
The last service of Samjhauta Express from Lahore arrived at Delhi railway station on Friday morning. Pakistani crew of the train had refused to ply it to Delhi citing security concerns which were dismissed by Indian Railways. Indian Railways sent its own crew and engine to get the train from Wagah border where it was stranded for four hours.
The Samjhauta Express was discontinued after the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001. Service was later resumed in 2014 but again suspended after the assassination of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.
In 2019, Pakistan again suspended the service after its forces attacked Indian military installation on February 27 in the backdrop on Indian counter-terror strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammad camps in Balakot. (Sidhant Sibal/Anas Mallick)