The Pakistan government on Friday said that it will suspend Thar Express services between Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Karachi over the revoking of Article 370, that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have decided to shut down the Thar Express as well. As long as I am railways minister, no train will operate between Pakistan and India,” Reuters quoted Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed as saying.
The train has been running between Jodhpur’s Bhagat ki Kothi station to Karachi every Friday night since services resumed on February 18, 2006, after a 41-year suspension.
Jodhpur division spokesperson Gopal Sharma, however, said that North Western Railway has not received any communication or information from any side till now regarding Thar Express.
The move comes a day after Pakistan disrupted Samjhauta Express service at Wagah border earlier on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Centre slammed Pakistan for the recent actions calling them “unilateral decisions”.
“We have seen reports that Pakistan has decided to take certain unilateral actions in respect to its bilateral relations with India,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Kumar reiterated that “whatever is being done by Pakistan is to present an alarming picture of the bilateral relationship”. The reasons cited by Pakistan are not supported by facts on the ground, the ministry said.
He further said that it was time for Pakistan to “accept the reality” and “stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries”.
The MEA spokesperson further said that Pakistani airspace has not been closed and that only re-routing has been done.
Pakistani authorities stopped the Samjhauta Express at the Wagah border citing security concerns on Thursday, days after India moved a presidential order to revoke Article 370 that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special status under the Indian Constitution.
High drama was witnessed at the Attari Railway Station as passengers travelling in the Samjhauta Express were left stranded at the station after the driver and guard refused to enter India.
After Pakistan suspended services, the cross-border train carrying 76 Indian and 41 Pakistani nationals reached Delhi early on Friday after a delay of around five hours.
Railway crew and guard from India had gone with a train engine to Pakistan to bring the train to Attari Railway Station, from where it was taken to Old Delhi station.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has reportedly announced that it is permanently discontinuing the Samjhauta Express train service with India.
The move comes after a series of steps taken by the Pakistan government in the wake of Centre repealing Article 370.
Islamabad on Wednesday decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with India over the Kashmir move. It expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspended trade with India.
The decision was taken at a meeting of National Security Committee (NSC) – the second within a week – presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the situation following the Indian government’s move on Kashmir.
As per the Pakistan National Security Council decision, the government has decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with India, suspend bilateral trade with New Delhi, review bilateral arrangements, take up Kashmir matter with the UN and observe August 14 in solidarity with brave Kashmiris.
Following the unilateral decisions taken by the Pakistani government in respect to its bilateral relations with India, India said it regrets the move by Islamabad and urged the neighbouring nation to “review the steps taken so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved”.
The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement on Thursday made it clear that the recent developments pertaining to Article 370 were “entirely the internal affair of India”.
“The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed,” it firmly stated.