Islamabad: Pakistan has suspended the Lahore-Delhi friendship bus service, after suspending two cross-border trains, in the wake of India’s decision revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories, a senior Pakistani minister has said.
The bus service was first started in February 1999 but suspended after the 2001 Parliament attack. It was restarted in July 2003.
The move is in line with the decisions taken during a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) held on Wednesday, Pakistan Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed said.
“In line with the decisions of NSC Pak-India bus service is suspended,” Saeed tweeted on Friday.
Two passengers left for Lahore early Saturday morning from Ambedkar Stadium Terminal here in a PTDC bus, officials said.
“A bus of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) carrying two passengers left for Lahore at 6am from the Ambedkar Stadium bus terminal. Three passengers are on-board a DTC bus coming from Lahore to Delhi,” said a senior Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) officer.
He said the PTDC telephonically communicated the DTC regarding suspension of the service.
“A formal written communication from the PTDC will be received today,” he said.
The Lahore-Delhi bus service is operated from Ambedkar Stadium terminal near Delhi Gate. DTC buses ply every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) buses every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, from Delhi to Lahore.
For the return trip, DTC buses leave Lahore every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday whereas the PTDC buses are available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Earlier, Pakistan Minister of Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad had announced on Friday that it will suspend the Thar Express train service with India which links the two countries across the Rajasthan border, a day after it stopped the Samjhauta Express following its decision to downgrade bilateral ties.
Rasheed announced to suspend the services of Thar Express and said that the last train would leave for India late Friday night, the official APP news agency reported.
The Thar Express has been running between Jodhpur’s Bhagat ki Kothi station to Karachi every Friday night since services resumed on February 18, 2006 after a 41-year suspension.
He said the 133km new track was built with the cost of Rs13 billion for Thar Express and now the track would be used for Thar coal project.
On Thursday, Pakistan suspended the Samjhauta Express train service with India.
Rasheed said the train service will not operate till he is the Railways minister and the bogies of the train will now be used for passengers travelling on the occasion of Eid.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for “agreement”, comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Simla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
On the Indian side, the train runs from Delhi to Attari and from Lahore to Wagah on the Pakistan side.
Pakistan’s decision to suspended the services of the two trains came after it expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Wednesday and decided to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
India on Monday revoked Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.