Dekho Yahan Hindustan our Pakistan

This is not some synchronized sports event or a scene in street theater in one of New York’s ethnic festivals. This is during the official flag lowering ceremony at the Indian-Pakistan border at Wagha between the states of Indian and Pakistani Punjabs — yes, India and Pakistan have states with identical names. The white line at the bottom is the official border. Soldiers in black are Pakistani soldiers and those in khaki are Indian jawans.

This 50-plus year old well choreographed simulated spectacle in jingoism by Pakistani and Indian soldiers is a daily tourist attraction. One wonders how the two countries that do not agree diplomatically on anything, mutually evolved this absurd synchronized jugalbandi tamasha.

There is a new twist to this daily ritual. In July 2010, India unilaterally decided to lower the theatrical aggression in what The Hindustan Times calls “good-natured rivalry.” Soon, Pakistan reciprocated, lowering its simulated belligerence. But don’t expect any thaw between the two countries whose views of their own common history is at such wide variance.

The reason for the reduced belligerence in the ridiculous enactment is more orthopedic than diplomatic. The soldiers participating in the daily rituals ended up with mild-to-severe knee injuries. If you Google search “Change of guard at Wagha border,” you will get several video clips and see for yourself the absurdity of this aggressive seema-tamasha.– KSV

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