- Pak said the train service has been suspended "till further notice"
- The Samjahuta Express departs from Lahore on Mondays and Thursdays
- The bi-weekly train comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach
Authorities in Islamabad have indefinitely suspended the Samjhauta Express, a decades-old train service between India and Pakistan. A statement by Pakistan's foreign office said that the train service with India has been suspended "till further notice". The move by Islamabad comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
Bilateral ties between the two countries have taken a severe beating after Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM carried out its latest terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, in which more than 40 paramilitary soldiers were killed. While India has revoked the 'most favoured nation' status to Pakistan, raised tariffs on Pakistani goods by 200 per cent and stopped India's share of river water from flowing into Pakistan, authorities in Islamabad today suspended the Samjhauta Express train service.
"The operation of Samjhauta Express has been suspended today (Thursday) in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India," Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson said in a statement.
"Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan," Pakistan's foreign office said, without giving any specific date for resuming the train service. The statement came after a spokesperson of the Pakistan Railways said early in the morning that the train service scheduled to depart for India at 8:00 am (local time) was cancelled.
The Samjahuta Express departs from Lahore on Mondays and Thursdays. The bi-weekly train was scheduled to leave Lahore with 16 passengers when the suspension took effect. The train had already embarked on its journey from Karachi but the passengers are stuck at Lahore railway station, the report said.
The Indian Railways, which said it wasn't informed of the move by Pakistan in advance, is planning to stop the train service from India too. Sources in the railways told news agency Press Trust of India that India will put a halt to the Samjhauta Express starting March 4.
From the India side, the Samjhauta Express runs on Wednesdays and Sundays. The train departs from the Old Delhi Railway Station at 11:10 pm.
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 Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack by the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan.
India carried out air strikes against the biggest terror camp of JeM in Pakistan's Balakot. In the operation, a "very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated." The facility at Balakot was headed by Yousuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of the JeM chief.
(With inputs from PTI)