Pakistan suspends Samjhauta Express service


New Delhi: Two days after the Indian parliament passed the bill to scrap Article 370, Pakistan has suspended Samjhauta Express service on Thursday leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at the Wagah-Attari border.

Notably, on Wednesday, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and suspended bilateral trade in the wake of New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

It also decided to expel Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspended bilateral trade with India.

The Indian government on Monday abolished Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

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.

The train had started on July 22, 1976, following the Shimla Agreement and ran between Amritsar and Lahore, a distance of about 52 km. Following disturbances in Punjab in the late eighties, due to security reasons, Indian Railways decided to terminate the service at Attari, where customs and immigration clearances take place.

On 14 April 2000, in an agreement between Indian Railways and Pakistan Railways (PR), the distance was revised to cover just under three km.

It was a daily train when the service started and changed to a bi-weekly schedule in 1994. Earlier the rakes were returned to the home country the same day but later in 2000 the rake remained overnight at that location.

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