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Countrywide train operations resumed after brief interruption: Minister

KARACHI: Countrywide train operations resumed on Sunday morning after the authorities accede to some demands of drivers’ association, providing relief to thousands of stranded passengers at various railway stations across the country, ARY News reported.

On late Saturday night, the Train Drivers Welfare Association announced an unanticipated strike to meet their demands bringing countrywide railway operations to a halt.

In a tweet on early Sunday morning, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that the strike has foiled and railways passenger operations were completely restored across the country.

Declaring the drivers strike unjust, Rafique said the railway ministry had already hinted of acceding to all justified demands of drivers. “[However], calling for a strike was unwarranted and blackmailing,” he added.

In response to a demand of reemploying the terminated staffers of the railways, Rafique said: “The cases against the drivers will not be withdrawn for their negligent attitude resulting in train accidents causing loss of lives.”

It is to be mentioned that hundreds of Pakistan Railways drivers went on strike in favour of their demands on late Sunday night. These demands include scale upgradation, higher salaries and reemployment of terminated staffers.

As result of the strike, dozens of trains including Millat, Karakoram, Allama Iqbal and Fareed Express were halted at different stations, causing disquiet among the passengers.

The association asserted that the drivers would not withdraw from their just demands and the strike would continue till their demands are not met.

On the other hand, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that all railway operations would resume within 48 hours while addressing a press conference.

He called upon the protesting drivers to get back to their duties while offering negotiations to them. “Those who will not return, has to go back to home.” he asserted.

As many as 278 drivers submitted a leave request all at once which the railways management rejected. Railway police made some arrests to compel other protesting drivers to continue their normal duties.

Six drivers from Rawalpindi and eight from Karachi had been arrested, railway police sources said while confirming that they had been directed to launch operation against the drivers and register cases under the Terrorism Act.

The spokesperson of Pakistan Railways said he had received five-day leave applications by several drivers which were dismissed. “The drivers’ refusal to work is tantamount to terrorism,” he remarked.

The spokesperson further said that contractual drivers have been called in to keep train operation running smoothly in the country. “The management is also considering taking strict action against the association,” he added.

Stranded Passengers:

Amid the Railway drivers’ strike, the cafeteria owners and shop keepers at various stations had increased prices of basic items twofold.

Many of the passengers were heard complaining about shortage of water and lack of contingency plan by Railway management.

Talking to media passengers said that railway officials are shying away from their due responsibilities and completely unaware of any development.

As result of the strike, trains at 13 stations in the Sukkur Division were halted when the protest began.

Khyber Express and Sukkur Express, going to Karachi, were halted at Shahdadpur Station, while Shalimar Express (Karachi-Lahore), Allama Iqbal Express (Sialkot-Karachi), Pakistan Express (Rawalpindi-Karachi), and Fareed Express were stopped at Rohri Station.

On the other hand, Tezgam,  en route from Karachi to Rawalpindi, was parked at Begmaji Station.



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