A spooked Pakistan on Thursday tried to provoke India by halting the Samjhauta Express service. As per Attari station master AK Gupta, the Pakistan authorities said that their driver and guard had refused to take over the train as they did not want to enter India. As per Gupta, Pakistani authorities asked India to send crew to take back the train.
The Indian engine then crossed over the border in Attari with a staff of three and brought back the Samjhauta Express taking passengers to India. The train was stuck at the border since 9.00 am. Uma Shankar Yadav the driver said before leaving for Pakistan, "Three staff will be going to bring back the train "
However, as per reports from the neighbouring country it appears that Pakistan government is trying to sensationalise the issue with a narrative that it has closed the Samjhauta Express train service with India. Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Thursday, a day after Islamabad downgraded the diplomatic ties with New Delhi. "Till I am Railways minister, Samjhauta Express train service will not operate," he was quoted as saying by the Geo TV. Addressing a press conference here, Rasheed said the bogies of the Samjhauta Express will now be used for passengers travelling on the occasion of Eid.
Last time, the operations of Samjhauta Express were suspended on February 28, following the Pulwama terror attack that was carried out by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM that killed more than 40 CRPF jawans on February 14. But it was resumed shortly later.
The Samjhauta Express is the four-decades-old train service between India and Pakistan. The move by Islamabad comes in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 (A) by the BJP-led Central government that provided special rights and status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The Samjhauta Express, commonly called the Friendship Express, is a bi-weekly train--Thursday and Monday--that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan since 1976 after the Shimla Accord between the two countries. The word Samjhauta means "agreement", "accord" and "compromise" in both Hindi and Urdu.
It was a daily train when the service started and changed to a bi-weekly schedule in 1994. The border crossing takes place between Wagah in Pakistan and Attari in India.
Meanwhile, calling its steps in Jammu and Kashmir as an "entirely internal affair", India on Thursday rejected Pakistan's unilateral move to downgrade diplomatic ties and asked Islamabad to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved.
On Thursday, after a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan decided to downgrade diplomatic ties. It asked India to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan and also decided not to send its High Commissioner-designate to New Delhi. It also partially shut off its airspace and suspended bilateral trade with India.
(With agency inputs)