Flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah border to become history
Islamabad: The traditionally hostile flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border post between India and Pakistan will become a relic of the past after almost five decades from Monday as authorities from both sides have agreed to do away with the show-piece event of aggression.
The decision was reached in Lahore, capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, Saturday after a meeting of visiting Director General of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Raman Srivastava with Maj. Gen. Yaqub Ali Khan, director general of Pakistan Rangers (Punjab).
"We have decided to end the angry eyeball-to-eyeball exchange, thumping of boots and other aggressive gestures from the flag-lowering parade," said Maj. Gen. Khan. "I had come to Pakistan to extend a hand of friendship and feel happy that it has been emphatically reciprocated," said Srivastava.
The animated display by the border guards had become synonymous with the parade at Wagah border and was greeted by loud cheers and slogan-mongering from spectators on both sides.
The traditional event always attracted spectacular coverage and has been covered by almost every publication and TV channel around the world.
"The jawans taking part in the flag-lowering ceremony will shake hands properly from here onwards," the officials said.
Both sides also agreed to hold regular sports events between Indian and Pakistani troops to promote friendship and ease tensions.
A similar effort was also made to lessen animated gestures in the parade during former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's tenure when the peace process was initiated between both countries in 2004, but it could not last long as tensions resurfaced.
The current style of flag-lowering ceremony started at the Wagah border in 1960.
The 19-member Indian delegation spent five days in Lahore to discuss issues related to cross-border tensions, smuggling and release of fishermen and will now pursue these points with their respective governments to form a joint mechanism to resolve such issues.