After deciding to downgrade ties with India, Pakistan on August 8, 2019, suspended the operations of the Samjhauta Express, the four-decades-old train service between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani media has reported.
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.
Following a meeting of the National Security Council on August 7, 2019, which was 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.
Moreover, it also partially shut off its airspace and suspended bilateral trade with India.
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.
Last time, the operations of Samjhauta Express were suspended on February 28, 2019, following the Pulwama terror attack that was carried out by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-eMohammed or JeM that killed more than 40 CRPF jawans on February 14, 2019. But it was resumed shortly later.
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 August 8, 2019, rejected Pakistan’s unilateral move to downgrade diplomatic ties and asked Islamabad to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved.
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