Amid strained Indo-Pak ties, DTC cancels Delhi-Lahore bus service
On Monday, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) canceled service of Delhi-Lahore bus, after Pakistan took a similar decision last week. The bus was scheduled to leave from the National Capital at 6 AM but stayed put. "Consequent to Pakistan's decision to suspend the Delhi-Lahore bus service, DTC is not able to send bus (from Delhi to Lahore) from August 12," a statement from DTC read.
Pakistan has been fuming (?) since last week after India scrapped Article 370 and withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, the northernmost state was divided into two union territories- J&K, and Ladakh. In a bid to "lodge a protest", Islamabad downgraded diplomatic relations with India and suspended bilateral trade. In fact, Indian envoy to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria returned home too.
Considering how Pakistan has been acting lately, it didn't come as a surprise when Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) suspended service of the bus and informed DTC over the phone. Delhi Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said since Pakistan took the first step, they didn't have any option. "We are supporting the Central government's decision. The nation comes first," he told ANI.
Notably, Delhi-Lahore bus service started in 1999 with the aim of improving ties between the warring neighbors. On February 19, 1999, the bus took late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore, where he was received by former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. As both leaders exchanged pleasantries, the world watched. After the 2001 Parliament attack, the service was suspended but was restarted in 2003.
To note, even earlier this year, DTC had requested the Centre to suspend the service, citing financial losses. Continuing the bus thrice a week increased financial load, DTC reportedly told the Centre. "We have written to the ministry of external affairs to suspend the bus service, taking into account the fall in the number of passengers," a senior official said at the time.
This development comes a day after India canceled Samjhauta Express' service. In this case, as well, Pakistan stopped the service initially. "In consequent to Pakistan's decision to cancel Samjhauta Express 14607/14608 running between Lahore and Atari, the link express train number 14001/14002 running between Delhi and Atari also stands canceled (sic)," Deepak Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northern Railway told PTI.