ISLAMABAD: The government decided to shut the Samjhauta Express rail service between Lahore and New Delhi and placed a complete ban on the screening of Bollywood movies in the country, as tension between the neighbours continue to rise following India’s revocation of special status of Kashmir.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid told a news conference on Thursday the train service between Pakistan and India had been stopped immediately and the passengers, who were scheduled to depart from Lahore on Thursday, had been shifted to Wagah border for their onward journey.
“Pakistani nation cannot sit idle when India is committing massive human rights violations in Kashmir,” Rashid said, making a formal announcement of the suspension of the train service. “So being the railways minister, today I announce to close down the Samjhauta Express forever. As long as I am the railways minister, it will not operate."
The minister assured that people who had bought tickets will be reimbursed. He advised the passengers to get their tickets refunded from the Office of Divisional Superintendent in Lahore. He directed the authorities to detach bogies of Samjhauta Express and use them to accommodate passengers' influx on Eidul Azha.
Answering a question, the minister said whatever was happening in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) was part of a well-planned conspiracy against the people of Kashmir. He predicted that the next three to 12 months were crucial. "There can be a war," he said, adding Pakistan did not want war, but peace.”
The minister recalled that whenever tension mounted between Pakistan and India, extremist Hindus targeted Pakistani passengers in India, referring to the burning incident of Samjhauta train in 2007. "They (Hindus) burnt alive Pakistanis in 1947 and 2007 in trains."
The Indian government rushed through a presidential decree on Monday to revoke the special status of occupied Kashmir. In response Pakistan on Wednesday expelled Indian envoy and downgraded the diplomatic ties. The government also announced that Pakistan would revisit the bilateral arrangements.
Rashid said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an unwise decision of revoking Article 370 and expressed confidence that people of Kashmir would bury Modi's politics in Srinagar that started from the Babri Masjid episode. “People of Kashmir and Pakistan are enjoying common values, culture and religion, so they were integral part of each other,” he added.
Also on Thursday, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said in a tweet that screening of Indian films in the country’s cinemas would be banned. “No Indian movie will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan.”