Expressing concern over the cancellation of Samjhauta Express, Pakistan has summoned India’s acting Deputy High Commissioner Raghuram in Islamabad for an explanation. The cancellation of the train, which runs between Lahore and Wagah border, has stranded more than 200 passengers from both countries.
The train has been cancelled due to the ongoing farmers’ protests against the Punjab state government in India. The tracks have been blocked by farmers and nearly 75 trains have been stopped due to the ongoing agitation. Refuting reports by Pakistani media that India had stopped the train services to Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Samjhauta Express was among 75 trains travelling through Punjab that were cancelled due to local agitation, including rail blockade.”
“Railway authorities had informed their Pakistani counterparts in advance that the train would not be able to run in such a situation,” added Mr Swarup.
Samjhauta Express, which was started to improve relations between India and Pakistan, helps facilitate travel for people between the two countries. The Samjhauta Express bomb blast, which took place in 2007, has also been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan during allegations and counter allegations of terrorism. The train, which was supposed to depart on October 12, has now been pushed back to October 15. Pakistan called back the train after Indian officials cited potential security risks due to widespread protests by farmers.
The cancellation of the train also comes at a time when the relationship between the two countries is at a low. While, Pakistan alleges that India railway authorities had once again refused to receive the Samjhauta Express, which was scheduled to depart on October 12, Indian security agencies have cited the prolonged protests of farmers as the reason. Both countries are looking at means to help stranded passengers reach their respective destinations. The possibility of transferring some of the passengers to a bus is
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