Darn, just when I thought today’s post would be a short, fun description of the famous nightly border closing ceremony at Wagah, we went to see Attacks of 26/11. Though it was in Hindi, the message was very clear in actions and in facial expressions. Terror, hatred, pain….Now I see those faces along with other memories,  pictures, and thoughts of friends both Indian and Pakistani.  It is not a simple picture.

First, let me tell you about the border closing. It is nightly at Wagah, the last border check-point on the Pakistani Indian border about 18 miles from Amritsar in the Punjab. All along the road there were large tractor trailers filled to capacity but parked. The guide said it can take up to 3 days for the trucks to be cleared to cross the border. Security is extremely tight.  I had been told that no bags either backpacks or purses are allowed, and we would have to show our passports.  Traffic was heavy and as we pulled into the parking lot, venders were hawking their wares. Our security was faster in the “foreigners’’ line, but we still had the physical pat down which some of the girls object to. No one likes it and it is uncomfortable but it seems to be a necessary invasion of privacy, these days, in order to insure as much safety as possible.  We had bought small Indian flags to wave and got settled in our bleacher seats.Image The atmosphere was one of a sporting event  with chants and cheers from both sides and much flag waving. It could have been a cricket or football match between friendly rivals.Image A soldier from each country in finest dress uniform, goose stepped toward the other with wild cheering all around.  Their steps perfectly mirrored the other. The flags were lowered, taps blown, and it was over.Image  The crowd dispersed, and we were requested to be photographed. Everyone was in good spirits. 100_3086Image There seemed no anger or animosity towards Pakistan. It is easy to forget that the two were once one country and it was here in the Punjab in 1947 where the division into two countries took place.  Even during a period of all-out war, when the two governments thought this nightly ritual was inappropriate, loud cries of “No” were heard from both sides and the ceremony continued.

Now, here are my humble opinions on these matters. The attack in Mumbai movie was told by the Indians showing horrible slaughter of men, women, and children in a hotel, hospital, café, and cab. Of course, we couldn’t understand the dialogue, but no particular reason for the attack was made or was clear. The men from Pakistan made a political statement loudly and clearly. The Indian police were caught unprepared, armed with only stones and sticks. There is much tighter security now all over India. My opinion is that religious differences are not the root of this hatred. My life experiences have shown me that people of different faiths often have a bond and respect for each other even while disagreeing over theology.  There is a kinship of being “faithful” people. I think governments “gin” up the people by accentuating the religious differences which turns to passionate hatred. The real purpose for war is often power, disputes over land, or votes. I saw that in Northern Ireland, where the British were afraid to allow the Irish to vote because their sheer numbers would overthrow them  in an election.

Before moving to Phoenix, I was a real law and order person about the illegal immigration questions prominent in the news in 2005. But after seeing men wait to work for hourly wages, some working 10-12 hours to send money home to their families in Mexico, I witnessed the “faces” of illegal immigration.  At night, the men would stay in crowded flop houses filled to capacity just for a place to sleep before going back on the streets. These men are real, the problems are real here and in Mexico, but something needs to be solved, and while we need to be a nation of laws, we also need to care about “the least among us.”

I have dear friends both Indian and Pakistani whom I cannot imagine hating and killing the others. But this hatred and killing is happening here often according to the news along with severe atrocities. There are angry, hate-filled people in all cultures and religions, but there are loving, peaceful ones as well. I have no knowledge about past or present wrongs on either side, but I do know that violence often makes  change for only a short time. There needs to be heart changes on both sides that move toward mutual respect. I hope and pray this largest of the world’s democracies, birthplace of Gandhi, can reach a prosperous and powerful peace with her neighbor, Pakistan. Change for all of us can be slow, arduous work, but it is worth the effort.

Nameste…..T I I

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in India, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Wagah

  1. I really appreciate you taking time to write about India and Pakistan. Very well-written. 🙂


  2. annetbell says:

    Thank you for taking time to read my tale. . I feel we are all pilgrims “along the way.”


  3. donna marie johnson says:

    Since moving to texas the border discussion is a big one. Many of the workers on the buildings in this housing area were built by those immigrants. Lawn service and even our fence and sun screens were installed by immigrant workers who spoke little english i kick myself for not being fluent in languages but have learned from being in countries were 8 could neither speak or read the language that a smile and a big appreciation for their efforts goes a very long way. If we only have love then the fear will be overcome and peace will follow but we fail to do the greatest commandment given us. Sorry for. Being preachy..your words rang all too true for me.


  4. maverickbird says:

    I love this post and having witnessed the same event at Wagah also feel incredulous towards India-Pakistan’s political strife.Incidentally I met a Pakistani couple in Malaysia who are one of the most wonderful people I have ever known and an extremely talented Pakistani artist at Borobudur.We both watched the sun rise over the ancient Buddhist monument in silence, fell in love with its spiritual power and had a long discussion over all killing we do in the name of religion.It was strange belonging to warring countries and sharing same thoughts.But she remains one of most memorable travel moments.


  5. Rabia Writes says:

    I really loved your this post.. And i would actually love it more, if you visit Pakistan as well, and see the beauty of our land too. I am sure you will learn more about our culture, people and religion. I can assure you that most of us Pakistanis and Muslims have very liberal views and humble attitudes towards people of any country any faith. 🙂

    Hope to see more of your post coming up. And yes thank you for following my blog.


    • annetbell says:

      Hi Rabia, Thank you for your lovely comments. I know that there are lots of kind respectful people in Pakistan. We had 4 Pakistani students who visited in our home when they were at my husband’s university. I had asked specifically for Muslim students in response to the kindness we felt in our trip to Egypt. I am thinking of telling Fayyaz’s story as my friend. I still hear from him years later and we are on LinkedIn as friends. He used to call me on Mother’s Day! He has a PhD in Power Engineering, lives in Canada has his own business and travels all over the world….and is a perfectly lovely human being. I also taught in Arizona with a wonderful American Pakistani women.
      The problem about visitin Pakistan is that there other people who would not welcome us. My husband says that he doesn’t want to be someone’s political statement. I would love to see your country and visit your sites and more importantly to me, meet you, your family and friends. It is the people and my connection with them that is most important to me. The architect likes pictures without people in them and buildings, building and more buildings! Who knows it may yet happen. Anshal alla Sorry that is not spelled correctly, but I imagine you understand! Namase . . . . .


      • Rabia Writes says:

        Yeah i totally understand. But believe me, other people will also welcome you with all their love and heart. We feel so good to see some international brothers and sisters walking in our country, and since i live in Islamabad, i see a lot of people like you in here.
        Plus, i would like to meet and interact with you also, as that would be a pleasure.

        And no problem at all. But it is InshAllah 🙂


  6. I hope and pray this largest of the world’s democracies, birthplace of Gandhi, can reach a prosperous and powerful peace with her neighbor, Pakistan. Change for all of us can be slow, arduous work, but it is worth the effort……………….very heart moved post
    thank u very much
    with regards


  7. Pingback: Wagah Border Crossing | TalesAlongTheWay

  8. Pingback: Wagha Border Closing | TalesAlongTheWay

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