After Samjhauta, Pak to suspend Thar Express (Lead)

Islamabad/Jaipur, Aug 9 (IANS) A day after announcing the permanent suspension of Samjhauta Express, Pakistan on Friday said that it will also shut down the Thar Express, its last remaining train link with India, amid rising tensions between the two neighbours after New Delhi's decision to revoke Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The announcement was made by Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed at a press conference in Islamabad.

Ahmed said that "after the Samjhauta Express, we have decided to shut down Thar Express", Radio Pakistan reported.

Addressing the press conference, Ahmed also said that he will visit "Azad Kashmir after Eid" and reiterated that "Pakistan does not want war with India".

The Samjhauta Express ran twice a week from Lahore to Attari via the Wagah railway station.

Meanwhile, railway officials in Jodhpur have said that they are yet to receive any official communication on the development from the Government of India and hence the Thar Link Express shall depart for its scheduled destination, Munabao, at 1 a.m. on Saturday from the Bhagat ki Kothi railway station near Jodhpur.

Thar Link Express is the Indian part of Thar Express which runs once a week between Jodhpur and Munabao. Passengers from Munabao then clear customs and are transported across the border to the Zero Point station from where the Thar Express takes them to Karachi.

Speaking to IANS, Gopal Sharma, Railway PRO, Jodhpur division, said, "We are ready for the safe departure of Thar Link Express from our side. As of now, we have not yet received any information regarding the suspension of its services. The train shall depart at its scheduled time, 1 a.m., from the Bhagat ki Kothi railway station," he said.

A total of 42 passengers have their bookings to go to pakistan on Saturday, sources said.

The train services were stopped after the 1965 Indo-Pak war before being resumed again in 2006.

--IANS

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