Nov. 2 – The slightly silly yet somewhat menacing daily border display between India’s Border Security Forces and the Pakistani Rangers at the Wagah border is to be toned down in the wake of fears that it may escalate passions between the two sides.
The 45 minute choreographed ceremony, which officially closes the border each evening between the two countries, is a huge crowd pleaser and has been enacted daily since 1959. Yet supporters from each country have been increasingly keen on expressing their nationalistic sentiments and politicians on both sides want to tone down the aggressive nature of the display.
As Homa Khaleeli of the Guardian writes: “In elaborate turbans topped with huge fans, complicated uniforms and shiny black boots the soldiers from the two nations high-kick towards each other. They snort. They stamp… They meet and snap to attention; pushing out their fists and raising their thumbs, it looks like they might hit each other. But then they are off, high-kicking again, slamming their heels to the ground with a crack that sounds like gunfire.”
However, after talks to control cross-border crime, Major General Yaqub Ali Khan, of the Pakistan Rangers, has called time on the “eyeball to eyeball exchange, thumping of boots and other aggressive gestures from the flag lowering parade;” and the 50-year-old tradition – possibly the ultimate in cross border nonsense – will now be a far more sedate and a simplified affair.
India-Pakistan Border Ceremony (with video)