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Cabinet approves suspension of rail links, trade with India

August 9, 2019
 

Photo: PID

The federal cabinet approved on Friday the government’s decision to suspend bilateral trade and rail links with India.

Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties, and suspend trade and rail links with India came in the aftermath of New Delhi’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.

India earlier this week repealed article 370 and 35A of its constitution, revoking autonomous status of Indian-administered Kashmir. Article 370 granted special autonomy to Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. It allowed the state’s assembly to make its own constitution and gave it autonomous state power.

Article 35A allowed the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly to define who is and isn’t a permanent resident of the state. It also allowed the assembly to determine who gets state grants, who has the right to purchase land and property and who can permanently settle in the region.

During the cabinet meeting held Friday, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed told the participants that the Samjhauta Express was bringing alcohol and drugs to Pakistan from Attari.

The minister earlier announced discontinuation of Thar Express. “I am closing operations of Thar Express and there is no one to stop me,” Rasheed said at a press conference on Friday.

Related story: Fawad Chaudhry’s comments on Samjhauta Express irk Sheikh Rasheed

Samjhauta Express, which runs from Lahore to Attari, has already been discontinued. The train operated on Mondays and Thursdays and took passengers from Lahore to Attari.

It has been learnt that Rasheed and Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaydhry traded barbs during the cabinet meeting over the former’s decision to discontinue Samjhauta Express.

On Thursday, Chaudhry had said that the railways minister did not have the authority to make this decision. The foreign ministry and the National Security Committee should’ve made the announcement, he had said.

Chaudhry’s comments did not go down well with Rasheed. He accused the minister of science and technology of interfering in other ministries.

“He shouldn’t do this,” Rasheed had said.

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