Pakistani officials sent several letters to Indian colleagues to take the coach back but they did not respond
LAHORE: Because of the suspension of Samjhauta Express – a biweekly rail service started between Pakistan and India – train cars will not be exchanged between the two countries this year.
Sources say that around 10 Indian Railroad bogies have been stuck in Wagah for the past nine months but Indian authorities are not ready to take them back.
The Samjhauta Express train is exchanged between Pakistan and India in June each year. The Pakistan one is used for six months, while the Indian one is used for the remaining six months of the year (4 June to 4 December). However, Pakistani engines run trains all year long.
When approaching to comment, Pakistani Railroad officials said they wrote several letters to Indian Railways about the return of trains, but they did not respond at all. They added that nine trainers belonging to Pakistani freight trains have also been trapped in India since the suspension of services, but because Indians did not answer, no arrangements could be made to bring them back to Pakistan.
Beginning on July 22, 1976, under the Simla Agreement to improve inter-state relations between the two countries, the train service runs from Lahore to Attari. Initially, the 936-seat train had a three-year contract. In July 1991, another agreement was signed between India and Pakistan and services were resumed.
In May 1994, the Samjhauta Express schedule – according to which the train runs every day – was changed and the train started biweekly services. The train first went from Lahore to Delhi but then the travel distance was reduced and Attari became the last station.
From there onwards, passengers must board a local Indian train to go to Delhi or other Indian cities. Sikh groups from India regularly travel to and from Pakistan using the service to visit their religious sites in Pakistan.
However, with the suspension of the service, Sikh pilgrims were forced to walk across the Wagah border.
Pakistan decided to stop the Samjhauta Express service on August 8, 2019, after the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“The state of Pakistan cannot sit still when India commits massive human rights violations in Kashmir,” Pakistan Minister for Railroad Sheikh Rashid said at the time of suspending services. “So as the railroad minister, today I announce to close Samjhauta Express forever. As long as I am the railroad minister, it will not operate. “
According to sources, Indian Railroad officials Ferozwala then requested the Pakistan Railroad to continue operating the Samjhauta Express. However, Pakistan’s Ministry of Railways rejected the request and issued a shipment to division overseers in Lahore and Karachi, directing them to keep train services suspended indefinitely.
Apart from Samjhauta Express, Pakistan also decided to stop the Thar Express which runs from the city of Khokhrapar in Thar, Pakistan, to the village of Munabao in India located in the Rajasthan desert.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2020.
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