Pakistan turns beating retreat ceremony at Wagah into show of strength
A routine daily flag-lowering ceremony at an Indian-Pakistani border crossing became a show of strength and patriotism Saturday on the Pakistani side thanks to simmering tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Thousands of Pakistanis thronged the border town of Wagah to watch their soldiers lower the flag. The ceremony takes place daily and features a formal set of handshakes between Indian and Pakistani soldiers. Very few people attended from the Indian side.
Saturday’s ceremony took on extra meaning because of an ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over the contested territory of Kashmir. Both countries claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety and are separated by the heavily guarded Line of Control.
Since 2003, a cease-fire has largely held despite regular small-scale skirmishes. Each side routinely blames the other for starting any violence and insists they are only retaliating.
India blamed Pakistani-supported Kashmir-based militants for a deadly September 18 assault on a base in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 17 Indian soldiers.
On September 29, the Indian military claimed to have carried out a “surgical strike” across the Kashmir border that destroyed what it called a “terrorist launching pad” used by Kashmir-based militants. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed in that barrage.
The latest spike in tensions has spilled over into a cultural and political stand-off. The Indian Motion Picture Artists Association announced it would ban Pakistani actors from Bollywood movies and several large Pakistani cinema chains announced they would stop showing Indian movies.
Saturday’s ceremony began with the march of two female border guards. Then a Pakistani Sikh soldier shook hands with his Indian counterpart; the soldier also shook his fist aggressively at the Indian soldier as the Pakistani crowd clapped in approval.
Among those who travelled to witness the ceremony Saturday was 70-year-old Mohammad Ahsan, who said he came from southern port city of Karachi.
“I am so happy that I saw today’s parade and flag lowering ceremony. The way our soldiers sprint and march is a rare experience of my life,” he said, as his daughters and others chanted, “long live Pakistan.”
Anam Fatima, 17, said she came to Wagah along with her classmates and teachers to boost the morale of Pakistani soldiers.
“I did not know that our soldiers are so handsome, tall and brave and I saw them today closely and God willing no one can defeat our brave nation,” she said.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- Under the Trekking Traction Homestay Scheme, villages near important and popular trekking routes are being developed by the tourism department as trekking clusters.
- Congress leaders accused the police of using force to create a nuisance during a peaceful protest of farmers and Congress workers.
- Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling Uttarakhand the Sainya Dham - fifth dham after the traditional Char Dhams -- Rawat in 2019 had announced that the state government will set up a Sainya Dham in Dehradun.
- A police team has been deployed in the village to ward off any fresh trouble. The police have also initiated an investigation to nab all the accused.
- Some leaders and political experts even described Modi’s visit as an exercise to woo Bengali voters on whom Bose’s ideology has great influence even after 76 years of his mysterious disappearance.
- With the scheme, nearly 5 million CAPF personnel and their families can avail cashless medical treatment.
- The scheme aims at reduction in livelihood vulnerabilities of the urban poor including migrant labourers and informal workers.
- Presently, over 5,000 cases are pending with the Tribunal of which the bulk of matters arise out of proceedings under PMLA.
- Gandhi is on a tour of the western belt where he will next visit Erode, Tiruppur, Karur and Dindigul districts to meet farmers, weavers and youngsters.