File photo of Thar Link Express. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
With this both the international railway links that connected India and Pakistan have been shut down by Islamabad in the backdrop of New Delhi's decision to remove the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir
Pakistani's railway minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad announced that Thar express, the weekly passenger train that connects Khokhrapar in Pakistan with Munabao in Barmer district of Rajasthan will be shut down.
With this both the international railway links that connected India and Pakistan have been shut down by Islamabad in the backdrop of New Delhi's decision to remove the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has also announced that Delhi-Lahore bus service, officially known as Sada-e-Sarhad will be suspended. Murad Saeed, Pakistan's communication minister in a tweet said, "In line with the decisions of NSC Pak-India bus service is suspended."
The service which started in 1999 connected Lahore and Delhi and was not even stopped during the Kargil war. The bus service was suspended only once after the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. It later resumed in 2003.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was on the inaugural bus service that took him for the famous Lahore Summit with the then PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistani decision will be considered as a big blow to people-to-people contacts between both countries.
Pakistan earlier on Thursday announced that it will shut down Samjhauta express--the bi-weekly train that connects Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. People who had already brought the tickets for the train service will be refunded without any deduction.
Meanwhile, the last service of Samjhauta express from Lahore arrived at Delhi railway station on Friday morning. Earlier the Pakistani crew of the train had refused to ply it to Delhi citing security concerns. The claims were dismissed by Indian railways. India also sent its crew and engine to get the train from Wagah border where it was stranded for four hours.
Samjhauta express was discontinued after the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001. Service was later resumed in 2004 but again suspended after the assassination of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.
In 2019, Pakistan again suspended the service after its forces attacked Indian military installation on February 27 in the backdrop on Indian counter-terror strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed camps in Balakot.
The service was first started in 1976 as part of the Shimla Agreement and initially ran between Amritsar and Lahore.