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Has anyone ever visited Indo-Pak border?

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    Has anyone ever visited Indo-Pak border?

    This isnt a political discussion. Just something to talk about. So has anyone ever visited any border crossing between India and Pakistan? How about line of control?

    I must say its an experience in itself. And the atmosphere there is barely reflective of the relations between the two countries, as portrayed in the media. I have been to the international border in Sialkot and Lahore. Well...other that the flag hoisting and taking down, the mood is friendly. Soldiers from both ends can be seen gossiping and exchanging K-2 cigarettes for Babu beeris. Villagers flock along the chain links, often talking to their relatives on the other side, or just mingling with 'foreigners' on the other side of the rope.
    The atmosphere on a line of control is relatively different however. I've been to the LOC in Sialkot, Kharian and Qadirabad. You can cut the tension with a knife, and even the slightest unusual sound can elicit gunfire. Flash of a camera will draw gunfire. And the funny part is, every bullet fired from one side HAS to be answered with a bullet from the other side, even if it is aerial shot. Its just a show of force, like telling the other that we're awake. The no-mans land makes things even more precarious, because there is no set definition of land as to where the no mans land starts. So you have to be careful where you step, cause the enemy might be taking that spot as no mans land...and if that happens, get ready for some more gunfire. Most of the firing is done to intimidate the other...not necessarily to kill.
    Just something i felt like talking about. I wish there were no borders though. Wish Indo pak could have a no visa policy. We could become the next north america....but alas, that day seems too far off, in neverland.

    I've been to the border near bahawalpur.
    It was actually a dear hunting expedition , of course we couldnt make a kill...( those were old days, I am very much against hunting now),
    Anyway , we went first to pakistani rangers post to get some one to gude us...Border in that area was largely unmarked...but you could see the ranger posts of both countries in front of each other..
    The captain of that post told us that his indian counterpart's family had visited a week earlier, to have dinner together....
    He told us of another interesting tradition. when pakistani rangers see an indian officer , they salute him , and vice versa.
    There was obviously no tention at that time , but the rangers told us about times when it can get very tense.


      Note: sorry for the long post. I hope you finish it

      Interesting topic Akif and a very interesting one for me perosnally.
      I have visited Wagha border crossing many times and seen people crossing and guards standing still while other workers on both sides relaxed and chatting and talking with each other. Flag hoisting and taking down is very synchronised and very patriotic event for both sides.

      But. What I have seen of the broder is not just that. I was born aprroximately 600 yards away from the Indo-Pak border. The village is right on the border and outer wall of the outer most house on the border side is about 250 yards away from the Internation border line. Our ancestral house where we lived untill 70s is right in the middle of the village and that is where I was born in the chubaara, one of whose windows opens towards the border side, right in a perpendicular direction. Other houses between our house and the border are single stories and lower than the chubaara....hence tale goes that when I was born Daiyee took me in her arms and opened the window to give me a peek outside through the window...I am sure I could not see Pakistan as my eyes were still closed.....and since then I have been in a constant search to see more of it..always.(I think I am getting a bit emotional here.excuse me)

      Our primary and high school were right on the outside of the village although you couldn't see the border directly from there but the playgrounds added later where we used to play Kabaddi kabaddi were very outside the village and view was open. We could see BSF jawans patrolling and occasionally Pakistan Rangers on the other side also. The next village in Pakistan facing directly ours was(is?) a one of the biggest villages of Lahore district and is only about less than 2 KM from our village. On a clear day the view is so crystal clear that you can spot tractors, buses etc moving around. Thats where the nearest high school was before '47 and my dad used to walk 2 km to attend his 7th grade in '47. He still remembers each and every galli of that village which he got chance to visit once again during/after the war of 1971.

      On thick winter mornings when Mullah gives 'baangh', people of my village can still here it.....although none is left behind to answer that call. Our own bhai ji puts the Gurdawara speaker on at full volume the same time and deep voice of mullah ji reciting Koran is intermingled with the shabad kirtan from the loud if it is one voice praising the almighty Rabb.

      Both these villages were so much close that still people on Indian side know my village by reference to the Pakistani village's name(X-Y village). That village being much bigger than ours has some very tall houses from the mughal times, 3 story house with a 'mamtee'(small room/veranda at the fourth floor) was occupied by a Sikh family(Known as SardaraN da ghar) before 1947, half of the members of which migrated to India. One of the sardars from that fmaily rose to be a Major General in the Indian Army in the 60/70s. One(2?) of the brothers who stayed back in the village partly because they had so much property there and thought rolla is going to be temporary, later converted to Islam, now known as Chaudhary Talib is a well known person in the area....a friend from Lahore told me few months ago. The Pakistani village used to have a Gurdawara on the outskirts of the village where 6th Sikh Guru stopped on his journey from Kashmir. Like many other religious places on both side of the border that Gurdwara got abandoned. You can see the white dome of the Gurdwara from the roof of our house.....the building was used for storing tooRhi(chaara for animals) for many years. Last i heard it is vacated now...and willl be left alone. My suggestion: turn it into a school for Pakistani kids...what else could be a better use for it..let the students(also means Sikhs) occupy it again...

      A Hindu Jatt faqeer who was a resident of our village about 500 years ago was well respected in the whole area. There was a samaadh of this faqeer(now a big Gurdwara being built at this location, as descendents of the faqeer joined Sikhism about 300 years ago, about the same time my ancestors became Sikhs fro Hindus) used to be the venue of a Vaisakhi mela every April even befoe partition. Mela is used to host games of Kabaddi, dauR, horse races,pollo(yes it is slowly fading away in Indian Punjab)etc. During good old days of 70s and early 80s, BSF and Pakistani rangers jointly used to manage the security and let people from pakistan come to the border and watch these games. On many occasions they will let them play kabaddi between teams from both side or have wretsling contests bewtween the 'ghabroos' of both sides. People used to look forward to the mela when they will see their neighbours from the other side, some old folks who used to know each other before 1947 could be seen hugging each other and getting emotional sometimes while remembering the past and asking about each other's families. Now India has layed down barbed wire(kandiali taar) along the boreder and chances of seeing those friendly glimpses of each other are gone for long time to come.

      When I went there last year and stood few yards away from that barbed felt like someone has layded that sharp edged wire right through my childhood. the place, I so intimately knew, is not the same anymore. but glimpses of friendlyness and sanity can be seen here and there if one looks around hard enough....on the net and off the net.

      Iqbal Qayser is a Punjabi writer/journalist in Lahore. He took the task of identifying abandoned Sikh historic Gurdwaras and places in Pakistan and published a book on it few months ago. He is visiting USA these days. I incidently, not even knowing that he is in USA, met him the other day in the Gurdawara where he was delivering his speech. I have read some of his articles on the historic and cultural richness of Pakistan, so I was familiar with his work. When we started talking he remembered one of my punjabi poems he has read in a Punjabi magazine(which is well known for its generosity of publishing pictures of contributors) published from Lahore and we felt like long lost friends right away. In his search of historic monuments in Pakistan he had visited the village in Pakistan next to my village. It was a very memorable moment for me when he metioned that he has seen my village from the Pakistani side by climbing upto that 3rd story building of Chaudhary Talib. He said it was so clear and beautiful. I never saw my village from Pakistani side, as I never went there. He promised me that when I go to Pakistan he will take me to that village and let me have a look at my village from Pakistani side. I am looking forward to it. Looking oneself from other side, from another's perspective....has deeper metaphorical meanings than it sounds....kaash we could all do that.....I mean see things from each other's perspective.



        Yeah CM, I read your details. I think I'm gonna annex your village to make you a happier person. °°smilies°°

        Sarfraz Khan


          Sarfraz, it is not about annexing or conquering, it is about being good neihbours and respect each others physical as well psychological boundaries.....brothers living in separate houses can still love each other the same...don't you think so?



            Chann Mahi ..."brothers living in separate houses can still love each other the same...don't you think so?"

            Very true....unfortunately I don't think we consider each other brothers any more. Very nice post though. Unfortunately it must not be the best of villages to live during war time. I have lived far far away from the border so I wouldn't know what kind of emotions must be going through people who live there. Funny thing is I've always found out that Pakistan brings out extreme emotions from the people from North India (especially Punjab). Either you guys hate them (due to some bad experiences) or you guys love them. There's never been an inbetween thing for you.


              Bombaykid, whether we consider ourselves brother or not is very subjective depending upon whom to ask. There are lot of people who think that we have too much of past baggage(good and bad) to break the link so quickly. I happen to meet and know people whose views enforce the belief in me that we are more alike than different. Also it is a political issue and my post was not talking about it. I am talking more at a personal terms of human tragedy than nationalistic feelings.

              If you notice from my past posts, I have never said that partition was wrong or right, or whether creation of Pakistan was right or wrong. That is the past. Now Pakistan exists so does India and Bangladesh. No one can and should reverse the time clock. I think the future is to accept the boudaries as they are and live and let live in peace.

              Living in these border villages is not that bad during peace time which was 52.5 years our of past 53 years. During brief periods of war in 65 and 72 we left our places and went back about 15-20 miles and it was considered safe(unfortunately that won't be the case if it happens in future). Lot of people stayed in the village also. for example, my grandfather in 71 war never left our farm/house which is on the indian side of village and about 2.5 kms from border. Indian army was all around us that time. I have very little memory of that as I was too young then. on this border sector, indian army moved forward to Pakistani territorry many miles in 65 and 71 and the Pak area was occupied for days untill the settlement. It was during this period that my dad was able to visit the villages on pak side by going with some army officers. His birthplace is actually in one of those villages on the other side of border which is my dadi's parents ancestral village. He saw the house and the room where he was born...according to him was very memorable moment for him.

              As for North Indian's feelings on Pak..I think Begalis, Punjabis, Kashmiris and gujrati/Sindhis are in a very unique situation than rest of the India and Pakistani population.....It is very hard for say Tamil, UPite, or Balochi to understand it how we feel about each other.

              I am not sure what is your definition of "inbetween thing".... believe it or not most people are on the middle ground...its our politicians and religious zealots who hate each other...and the people interested in the coomon heritage, culture and language, local intelligentia,educationists,writers etc are in love with each of the majority is neutral...and unfortunately more easily manipulated by politicians and religious fanatics than their intelligentia.



                Very impressive Chanmahi. Will respond in detail a bit later


                  BombayKid and CM

                  People who had to leave everything behind including their homes don't feel very generous toward Pakistan, at the best they try ignore it. CM - you are very lucky that your village didn't become part of Pakistan and you could enjoy your ancestral home and its Chabutra. My whole clan (in fact I have never met a relative who was living in present India before partition) was forced to get out of the place they have lived for centuries because a few politicians decided to divide India. Sikhs and Hindus living in that areas were never consulted. Delhi is full of Punjabis who used to live in Pakistan and I know lots of them. Most Hindus and Sikhs didn't want to convert to Islam in order to stay in Pakistan like the Sikh in your neighboring Pakistani village.

                  I enjoyed your post, I personally have no animosity towards anybody but most of Punjabis I know don't think about Pakistan.

                  [This message has been edited by Rani (edited May 11, 2000).]


                    First of all, I personally agree that we have more in common with each other and I am all for people to people contact. But somehow I get the impression that Pakistanis donot want this (maybe I am a being unfair). I thought Pakistanis are more keen on projecting a "different" culture than ours while we are trying to show how similar we are. Like we had discussed once, even our interpretation of history is so much different --- our heroes are their villains and vice versa.
                    I feel that it's no use just blaming the politicians --- maybe we just don't love each other like we should. We meet Pakistanis in the US and other foreign countries and we get along really well with them, but then we donot discuss things like Kashmir etc and thats probably why discussions stay on a "civil" level. Just look at what one mention of Kashmir does to the political section of this forum and you'll understand what I mean .
           was a really nice post --- a refreshing change I must say. However sadly I have become kind of a pessimist as far as India-Pakistan relations are concerned. But I hope your dream of better relations will one day come true.


                      I believe even kashmir is not as emotional issue in india as in Pakistan. In day-to-day life, who cares. On the other hand, the fact that Pakistan is able to recruit jihadis and none objects a big defence expenditure means pakis do, at least a big section of them.


                        BombayKid, I mostly agree with your first paragraph. Before I answer Rani's niradhar aadosh(?ilzaam) on me let me make few comments on it. I have get the similar impression that Pakistani political discourse is towards highlighting how they are different than India. I am not very happy about it. It does sadden me sometimes but I do to some extent understand it because every nation needs a distinct and homogeneous culture which becomes its identity for its long term survival as a separate entity. So if they are trying that, we cann't blame them for this. We have a very similar movement going on in India behind all this emerging new India. As for them being different than Indians is not totally baseless. When they compare them selves with Tamils, or Keralites they are different. I think when they compare Pakistani culture with Indian culture to be different they don't compare Lahori culture with Amritsar's culture, they compare it with Madrass, Bhubhneshwar or someplace else in India which is not so familiar to them as Ludhiana or Srinagar or Lukhnow. It is same thing as an Indian comparing the metropolitan city cultures accross India and drawing a conclusion that India is same east to west and north to south.
                        There is a good discussion on this subject going on at Chowk all the can see there how majority of people feel.
                        (I have no comments for rest of your post because I have no idea of what to say on Kashmir issue. I believe both countries have made it unnecessarily a prestige issue and no one really knows what the solution is that will bring a pleasant end to the conflict.)

                        I can only empathize what you feel about the displacement of your elders from their homes but don't forget for every one displaced from West to East another one was displaced from East to West. It was a human tragidy and everyone was responsible for it. There is no way to blame it on one side and wash yourself of the historic guilt. I hope you don't make your views on this issue based upon the most vocal posts on various message boards on the net. Talk to them one to one, on and off the net, and discuss these issues with them genuinely with an interest to understand not to prove something. things will get much clearer that way.
                        I too had lot of family members who migrated from Lyalpur and Sargodha area...losing almost everything they had.

                        As for enjoying the chubutra of my house...v/s you not seeing your ancestral house ever...I downplayed the effect of wars of 65 and 71 in my first post. Now that you think my fellow villagers were enjoying such a good life while you suffered... let me say this...its only us who know how the life is on the frontiers, Delhi walas can talk big and make big decisions of blowing big bombs if need be, but they cann't live a night in my village without some prozac, during peace times let alone war times. During War times having stayed away from their fields for a month or two, and ary movement accross the land, most farmers lost the crops...that is their 6 months income. Now tell me who else donated 6 months of their paycheck to the war fund, every time there was a war.

                        Before this thread gets more political...let me share an interesting aspect of the border life.

                        Border people are notorious for smuggling things(gold, afeem, charas,silver, currency etc) accross the border and making millions. Well, not everyone does that. There are only few big fishes and rest just enjoy the gossip.

                        In early 80's the smuggling was so open on the border in Punjab/kashmir and Rajsthan that any one can go to the BSF jawaan and pay 200 Rs./- and cross the border. Of course keep another 300 Rs/- spare for the Pakistani Rangers.and you got yourself a nice trip to the foreign land. And from hearsay all these pehraydaars were so friendly and nice to each other also.....sharing goodies all the time



                          I think what you said about similarities in North Indian and Pakistani culture is probably right. In particular I guess Punjab has more cultural ties with Pakistan than any other state in India, and I don't think those ties will break so easily. I think a war probably affects Punjab more than other state. Till the 70s there was always the threat of war and in the 80's militancy made it a dangerous place again. Fortunately the violence has ended but the problems still remain unsolved. But lets hope for the sake of our people that neither militancy or war ever breaks out again.





                              Thanks for the your reply. I do understand suffering of people living at the border at the same time can appreciate their attraction for the people living across the border.

                              I think in order to have any kind of relationship, hate propaganda should stop, the things mentioned in Muhabbat's post "Prof Nayyar defends himself" are very disturbing. One to one friendship is fine- this was tried by Vajpayee with the blessing of most Indians but didn't work in face all the hate preached in madrassas.

                              I will stop now before this post turns too political.

                              [This message has been edited by Rani (edited May 13, 2000).]