Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday announced that it will suspend the Thar Express train service with India which links the two countries across the Rajasthan border, a day after it stopped the Samjhauta Express following its decision to downgrade bilateral ties.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Friday announced to suspend the services of Thar Express and said that the last train would leave for India late Friday night, the official APP news agency reported. "As long as I am the Railways Minister, the services of Thar and Samjhauta Express would remain suspended," he was quoted as saying.
The Thar Express 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. He said 133 km new track was built with the cost of Rs 13 billion for Thar Express and now the track would be used for Thar coal project.
Since its resumption, the Thar Express has been popular with people visiting families across the Rajasthan border, and for Pakistani Hindus who plan to migrate to India. According to one estimate, over four lakh passengers have taken the train in the past 13 years.
The Samjhauta Express was held up at Wagah on Thursday for some time by Pakistan authorities, citing security concerns. An Indian locomotive then brought the train to its side of the border.
Though the Samjhauta Express was briefly suspended after the Indian Air Force struck a terror base in Pakistan's Balakot in February, Thar Express continued unaffected.
Pakistan's decision to suspended the services of the two trains came 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.
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.