Feb 28: Pakistani authorities have suspended the Samjhauta Express train service between Pakistan and India until further notice, an official said Thursday, amidst tense bilateral ties in the aftermath of air strikes.
The train departs on Monday and Thursday from Lahore.
“The operation of Samjhauta Express has been suspended today (Thursday) in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said in a statement.
The biweekly train was scheduled to depart from Lahore with 16 passengers.
“Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan,” the FO said without giving any specific date for resuming the train service.
The FO statement came after a spokesman of the Railways said early in the morning that the train service scheduled to depart for India at 8.00 AM (local time) was cancelled.
Dawn news reported that the train embarked on its journey from Karachi but stopped at Lahore railway station after officials suspended its service.
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.
Sources said that the footfall of the train, which generally records an occupancy of around 70 per cent, has fallen drastically post the Pulwama attack.
Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
India carried out air strikes against the “biggest training camp” of JeM in Balakot.
An Indian fighter jet was shot down and its pilot captured by Pakistan in retaliatory action on Wednesday.
At least 49 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a JeM suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into their bus in Pulwama district.