Islamabad, August 9 (Geo News): Pakistan’s railways minister announced on Friday that the country’s second train service, Thar Express, would be suspended by midnight over heightened tensions with India over the Kashmir dispute.
Thar Express, which runs from Khokhrapar in Pakistan’s Tharparkar district to the Indian village of Munabao, would be closed off by 12 PM, Friday night, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said in a press conference here in the federal capital.
The move comes a day after Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed had said Pakistan had closed the Samjhota Express train service with India.
“Rawalpindi’s Lal Haveli has a blood relation with Srinagar’s Lal Chowk,” the minister said, referring to his political centre in the city’s old area and the city square in Indian occupied Kashmir’s capital.
“Whoever doesn’t stand strong with the Kashmiris is the most traitorous of traitors,” he added.
On Thursday, Rasheed had said the Samjhota Express’ bogies would now be used for passengers travelling on the occasion of Eid. “Two special trains will run on Eid.
“We will try to improve the train schedule, timing, coaches and hygiene. The addition of 38 trains has enabled us to pick seven million more passengers and earn Rs10 billion,” he had noted, adding: “Till I am the railways minister, Samjhota Express train service will not operate.”
Rasheed had added that all those who had bought Samjhota Express tickets would be given a refund and there would be no deduction at all.
He had mentioned that the refund could be collected from the “Railways Divisional Superintendent office in Lahore.
“The next three to four months are very important. Pakistan is a proponent of peace and does not want war.
“If war is waged on us, it will be the last one,” he had warned.
Rasheed had also criticised the decision made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, saying it was “highly unwise and such decisions change the course of history. The hearts of Kashmiris and Pakistanis beat in unison.
“I know Kashmir from inside. Modi’s governance ends at Lal Chowk in Srinagar,” he added.
The Samjhota Express train service was suspended earlier this year as well due to escalating military tensions between the two neighbouring countries but was resumed later. It ran twice a week from Lahore to Attari via the Wagah railway station.
The move comes days after the Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had stripped occupied Kashmir of its special autonomy. New Delhi had rushed through a presidential decree on Monday to abolish Article 370, which revoked the special status and made the state a Union Territory with the legislature — a decision condemned by Islamabad.
It followed days of uncertainty in the region that began last week on Sunday when India ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave “immediately”, sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed valley, and put hundreds of Kashmiri politicians — including two former chief ministers — under house arrest.