Pakistan on Thursday announced that it had to suspend train service of Samjhauta Express - a biweekly train plying between Pakistan and India - a day after Islamabad downgraded the diplomatic ties with New Delhi. Addressing at a press conference here, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said: "As long as I'm Railways minister, Samjhauta Express cannot operate."
Samjhauta Express train service had been suspended earlier this year due to escalating tensions between the two neighbouring countries. However, the service was later resumed. The minister said that passengers who have purchased tickets in advance will be refunded without any deduction and asked them to contact divisional superintendent office Lahore for collecting money. The bogies of Samjhauta Express will be used to facilitate passengers on Eid-ul-Azha, he added.
Samjhauta Express is a bi-weekly train - Thursday and Monday - that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan. The train was started on July 22, 1976, following the Simla Agreement and it plied between Amritsar and Lahore. "The next three to four months are very important. Pakistan is a proponent of peace and does not want war. If war is imposed on us, it will be the last one," Railways minister warned.
The minister said that Pakistan wants peace not war, but if war is imposed, the country would not act as a silent spectator. Rashid further warned that he sees a war in a year which would be the 'final war'. "I know Kashmir from inside. Modi's governance ends at Lal Chowk in Srinagar," he added.
Rashid said that railways guest houses are being built near Nankana Sahib railway station. While talking about the Afghan peace process, the federal minister maintained that the United States now wants to quickly leave Afghanistan whereas the Taliban are in no hurry.
"Two special trains will run on Eid. We will try to improve the train schedule, timing, coaches and hygiene. The addition of 38 trains has enabled us to pick seven million more passengers and earn Rs 10 billion," Rashid said.
He went on to say that he was not aware of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz's arrest. He affirmed that those who plundered the national money must be held accountable and the opposition cannot be given any relaxation in corruption cases.