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Stalled Samjhauta Express departs for Delhi

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Lahore: The India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express bound for Delhi, which was called back from the Wagah border India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express to the Lahore railway station on October 8, left for Attari on Thursday, media reported.

There are 122 Indian and 70 Pakistani passengers on board, officials said.

The train had earlier departed carrying 193 passengers — both Indian and Pakistani nationals — but was recalled to Lahore after Indian authorities cautioned Pakistani officials of disruptive farmers’ protests in Indian Punjab.

Pakistan Railways (PR) earlier announced that the train would depart on Monday but the departure was delayed a second time as farmers’ protests continued on the Indian side of the border.

The train, scheduled to run on Mondays and Thursdays, departed after Indian authorities confirmed resumption of the train service with PR, Pakistan Radio reported.

Indian passengers whose visit visas to Pakistan expired stayed at the PR headquarters and were provided certificates to validate their stay in the country.

On Tuesday, 14 stranded Pakistanis who were scheduled to return home by the Samjhauta Express arrived in Lahore from Delhi by the Dosti Bus that runs between the two countries.

Their Indian visas expired and they were to return to Lahore by the Samjhauta train on October 8 and then on October 12 but could not travel because of the cancellation of train service in the wake of farmers’ agitation in Indian Punjab.

(IANS)

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Pakistani Authorities ‘Stop’ Import of Cotton and other Indian Agricultural Commodities

Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order

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FILE -(representational image) Pakistani villagers living at the Line of Control between Pakistan-Indian Kashmir, Chakoti, build concrete house in Pakistan, Nov. 21, 2016. VOA

Islamabad, Nov 26, 2016: Pakistani authorities “halted” the import of cotton and other agricultural commodities, including vegetables, from India via the Wagah border, it was reported on Saturday.

Am official from the Department of Plant Protection has said the move came due to escalating tensions between the two countries after Indian troops allegedly targeted a passenger bus and an ambulance near the Line of Control (LoC) and killed “three Pakistani soldiers and 10 civilians” on Wednesday, Dawn reported.

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Cotton importers and customs clearing agents claimed that the department had stopped the import of agriculture commodities from India without a warning or written order citing increase in tensions across the LoC.

Sahabzada Imran Shami, director general of the DPP, a subordinate department of the national food security and research ministry, however, sought to dispel the impression.

“We have stopped import of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables in order to protect our farmers. We have enough tomato and other vegetables stocks, which we import from India only in case of shortages in the domestic market,” he told Dawn.

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The reason behind the “suspension” of cotton imports from India was, nevertheless, different. “No. We have not stopped cotton imports from India. It has just been halted over reports that the Indian exporters are not meeting our bio-security conditions,” Sahabzada Shami contended.

“We’re looking into these reports and will lift restriction on cotton imports if our apprehensions are proved wrong.”

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He said the suspension of cotton import from India would create a huge problem for the textile exporters as the truncated domestic crop target of 11.25 million bales for this year appeared difficult if not impossible to meet.

“The industry requires 14 mn bales. We will still be short by three million bales of cotton even if the crop target is achieved.

“The cotton shortages after ban on Indian imports,” he said, “would lead domestic prices to jack up at the expense of exports.” (IANS)

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