Stories about Wagah Border

Partition 1947: Their worlds suddenly changed, never to be the same again

Partition. A simple word used to refer to the extremely traumatic events of August 1947. A word that seems devoid of any emotion whatsoever; concealing the atrocities committed and the thousands slaughtered in the name of religion. As boundaries were rashly drawn by the British and their colonial country was left ravaged by war, how aware were these higher orders that communities, families and friendships would be so ruthlessly ripped apart? Everyone from both sides of the border have their own tales of Partition. My own daadi and naani (paternal and maternal grandmother respectively) often narrate their accounts of pre-Partition India, Partition, and ...

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Why is the Wagah border ceremony a competition of nationalism?

It has been 70 years since India and Pakistan emerged from a single, coherent geographical unit as two sovereign nations, and both states do their best to remember and reaffirm this. Every day at around 4:30pm, the Wagah border prepares for a unique ceremony, wherein the soldiers stationed at and near the border gates on both sides re-state the identity of India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, while their people cheer for them. As the dusk sets in, it is time to lower their respective flags, but both countries do so by giving a warning to each other. The gates ...

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I was not just a Pakistani visiting India; I was travelling back in history

Several years ago, I chanced to visit India for a conference. Our immediate destination after crossing the Wagah-Attari border was the Jallianwala Bagh, followed by the Golden Temple – the two famous destinations that appear when you Google “sites to visit in Punjab”. For those living in Lahore today, touring these sites, which are located at a mere 50-kilometre distance, is next to impossible given the visa restrictions. Crossing the border I was excited of course, but at the same time, I was lost in my thoughts. In their teen years, my grandparents had made the decision of ...

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We will spread the colours of Basant thousands of miles away from home

It may not be a national holiday in South Asia, but the advent of Basant (spring) is certainly celebrated there in all its yellow glory, whether it is in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India. The colour yellow can be associated with the blooming fields of mustard which paint the plains from Punjab all the way to Bengal. One of the many passions that this season excites is kite flying. Even if one cannot differentiate between a patang, guddi or tukkal (types of kites) kite, it is okay because Basant is all about enjoying yourself. It also passes any religious and ethnic lines in the region, making it the perfect blend of spirit and fun. ...

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When Uncle Prem Naat Mehra finally made it across the border

There sat a man, terminally ill, writing a letter. It was a combination of intuition and denial which compelled him to write a letter to a man who was declared dead. Yet he sat there, holding onto his last wish which gave him hope that may not have any fruit to bear. Using a yellow directory, he wondered to himself if it would reach Afzal Cheema, his Muslim friend in Pakistan with whom he had enjoyed his childhood in the green fields of Lahore. Like a story of novels or thematic compilations, the journey of this friendship took a turn ...

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Pakistan and India: Friends abroad always, enemies at home always always

As someone who had been raised in the United States by Pakistani immigrants, I have always found it difficult to fathom the animosity between Pakistanis and Indians living in South Asia. All the aspects of life that bring the two groups together – from music and food, to values and mannerisms – get clouded out by the venomous politics between the countries’ governments. During this time of celebration for the 69th year of independence of Pakistan and India, I strongly believe that the only way forward is for the citizens of both these countries to recognise their shared experiences ...

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Nawaz Sharif’s speech: It’s time the PM stops talking the talk and starts walking the walk

Following the March 27th Easter Day massacre of 72 people – mostly women and children – Sunni militant group Jamaatul Ahrar proudly claimed responsibility via this ominous tweet, “Let Nawaz Sharif know that this war has now come to the threshold of his home. The winners of this war will, God willing, be the righteous Mujahideen.” In turn, the PM appeared on live television with a comeback to remind these terrorists, “…that we are keeping count of every drop of blood of our martyrs (and) this account is being settled, and we will not rest till it is paid.” Within hours, reports poured in of the launch of an ...

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Unveiling Pakistan, chapter by chapter, page by page

Fear, it’s both a vital gift housed by human nature and an insidious enemy of the human race. On one hand, it whispers warnings and protects us from danger. On the other hand, it has the tendency to dramatise risk, rationalise rumours, glorify assumptions, and conjure terrifying truths in order to fill gaps in knowledge and experience. In this regard, fear often places two hands over our eyes and blinds us from hidden opportunities. It closes the gate on enlightening international relationships, thrilling life experiences and character-building adventures. I recently stared fear in the face and told it to take a ...

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Why 374 families will not be celebrating Eid this year

Eid is often considered synonymous to happiness, joy and companionship. Eid helps people reconnect and it works as an excuse for Muslims to celebrate three days with their family and friends. However, this Eid, we should not forget those who have lost so much of their world in the past year that Eid for them is as bland as any other day. For such people, who have experienced real loss and real pain, celebrating Eid is beyond comprehension. And we, who have been fortunate enough to not be struck by tragedy as yet, should partake in their pain and pay tribute ...

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What makes Pakistan a great country

Flip through our TV channels, skim through our newspapers and scan through a dozen latest international reports on indicators of some sort and they will all give you only a few reasons to be happy about our country. In fact, if you do this long enough, you’ll probably start noticing initial symptoms of prolonged depression. Are there any problems of the world that this nation has been spared off? Floods, drought, earthquakes, terrorism, corruption, infant mortality, diseases, illiteracy, sectarian conflicts, ethnic disputes, border disputes, domestic violence, water scarcity, electricity shortages, gang wars and what not. It’s tragic and scary. But there is a flip ...

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