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Pakistan summons Indian envoy over Samjhauta Express disruption

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Islamabad: Pakistan summoned a senior Indian diplomat on Friday to convey concern over cancellation of a cross-border train service, authorities said.

The Delhi-bound Samjhauta Express, carrying both Indian and Pakistani passengers, was called back from the Wagah border on Thursday after Indian authorities informed Pakistani officials of farmers protest on the Indian side of the border.

The Indian farmers were holding a demonstration to demand compensation for destruction of their cotton crop, according to reports.

The train, which carried 193 Pakistani and Indian nationals, will depart for Delhi on Monday, said Pakistan Railways spokerman Rauf Tahir.

“Acting Deputy High Commissioner of India Raghuram was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to express concern over the cancellation of operation of Samjhauta Express,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The cancellation caused inconvenience to more than 200 passengers from Pakistan and India,” a foreign ministry statement quoted Mohammad Faisal, the Director General South Asia, as telling the Indian diplomat.

Pakistani authorities issued special certificates to allow the Indian nationals, whose visas to visit Pakistan were expired, to extend their stay in the country till Monday.

“The Government of Pakistan has taken all necessary steps to accommodate the stranded Indian passengers, who were not permitted to cross the border,” the foreign ministry added.

A deadly bomb attack on the Samjhauta Express in February 2007 on the Indian side of the border killed 68 people, including 42 Pakistanis.

Pakistan has been demanding punishment to those involved in the terrorist attack blamed on extremist Hindus.

 

(IANS)

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Vow To Hold Peace Talks With India: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan prepares to speak at the opening of the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighbouring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at a Saudi Arabian investment conference where the newly minted leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payment crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the crowd at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to upcoming nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

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Imran Khan, wikimedia commons

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan’s call for peace talks comes as his administration is desperately seeking funds from “friendly” countries, including Saudi Arabia, to shore up Pakistan’s deteriorating finances.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, surrounded by host country representatives and other participants, attends an investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

The prime minister’s attendance at the FII comes as leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs shunned the conference in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

During his address at the FII Khan confirmed that Pakistan was also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a new bailout.

Also Read: Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project With China

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent. (VOA)