Islamabad: Tense relations and the never-ending rivalry between Pakistan and India has reflected in a daily joint parade at the border openings for decades, where both sides showcase aggressive gestures and emotions filled parade with massive crowds chanting slogans on both sides everyday.
However, with the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic, this spectacle has come to a halt, silencing the echo of slogans that attracted masses from both sides of the border.
The joint parade between India and Pakistan is unique as it has continued even at the worst times of tensions. However, this year, the parade was called off when both sides closed their borders to stem the virus spread.
The three borders of Pakistan with India, Wagah border in Lahore, Ganda Singh border in Kasur and Head Sulemanki, the Pakistani Rangers Punjab and the Indian Border Security Forces used to salute and unfold their country’s flags in ceremonies with boots hitting the floor hard and personnels showing their aggressive angry faces as they would come eye-to-eye with each other.
“The atmosphere has been gloomy for the last nine months due to the ongoing pandemic,” said a resident of the area, located in the vicinity of the Wagah border.
“Every afternoon was bright and vivacious, with loud slogans of Allah hu Akbar and long live Pakistan vibrating through the air. Daily, a round of applause was heard, but now there exist deep shadows of silence,” the resident recalled.
The ceremony, being by far, one of the most unique in the world, used to attract a large number of both foreign and local tourists, who made special plans to attend the ceremony.
The joint parade between India and Pakistan started in 1959 and since then, it has continued without any interruption.
In the past, the parade was held for one day after a suicide attack on the Wagah Border on November 2, 2014, due to which India cancelled the parade on its side.
On September 29, 2016, India halted the parade on its side due to strained relations.
However, the nine-month halt due to the pandemic is the longest in decades.
Forces deployed on the borders lower down flags of their respective countries every evening without holding any joint parade.