Amidst Prevailing Indo-Pak Tensions, Pakistan Suspends Samjhauta Express
Amidst high tensions between Pakistan and India, the former decided to suspend the operations of the Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express which runs between Lahore and Attari every Thursday and Monday. It covers a total distance of 29 km on the stretch and the train’s international route comprises of a 3.2 km stretch between Wagah and Attari in India. The train operates from Delhi on every Wednesday and Sunday.
Why was the train suspended?
According to The Times Of India, Pakistan had on February 27 cancelled the train’s trip on the Wagah-Lahore stretch. As many as 27 passengers, which included 24 Indians and three Pakistanis arrived at Attari at 7 am. The train had left the Old Delhi Railway station at 11:20 pm Wednesday night and on the next day, the Wagah Station master informed the Attari Station Master that the train which comes to Attari from Pakistan at 12:30 pm will no longer be coming.
Earlier that day, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesman in a statement said, “The operation of Samjhauta Express has been suspended today (Thursday) in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India.” The FO further stated that train will resume operations as soon as tensions between the two nations de-escalate. Dawn reported that the train had embarked on its journey from Karachi but was stopped at Lahore railway station after statements from the official.
Later in the evening, India, after observing the drastic drop in occupancy, decided to suspend operations of the Samjhauta Express on its side as well. According to The Times Of India, the Railway Board has decided to cancel all operations from the train’s next scheduled run. Reportedly, a total of 42 passengers including two Indians were supposed to leave for Pakistan on the Samjhauta Express but had to be sent via road after the train stood cancelled.
Originally, the train offered one rake which went all the way between the terminals – Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. Now, a Pakistani rake used to stop at Attari at which point commuters would have to board an Indian rake. The Samjhauta Express consists of six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach and was launched on July 22, 1976, under the Shimla Agreement which settled the war between the two nations in 1971. After the Pulwama attacks which left 40 CRPF jawans dead, the footfall for the train has come down drastically.