Indian-Pakistan families fear border shutdown

Like many other Indians, he has extended family on both sides of the frontier and travels regularly between the nations that were divided after independence from Britain in 1947.

Indian-Pakistan families fear border shutdown

World Bulletin / News Desk

Mohammad Iftakar waits with sweets and gifts at the Wagah border crossing, a lifeline for families violently separated during the founding of India and Pakistan, fearful of dangerous new divisions as hostilities flare once again.

He worries authorities might close the main border crossing at Wagah in India's northern Punjab state, leaving families like his in limbo, after New Delhi said it had conducted military strikes inside Pakistan.

"There are some agencies and jihadi groups in Pakistan that don't want peace, but all of the other people are like us," said Iftakar, who was travelling with his wife and two sons and carrying bags loaded with sweets and gifts.

"They (Pakistanis) love us and they too want close relations between our two countries," he said, before clearing customs and making the short walk to the border crossing.

The wealthy farming state of Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan at partition, becoming the epicentre of the violence in which at least a million people were killed as Hindus fleeing the newly formed Pakistan clashed with Muslims moving the opposite way.

Iftakar, whose wife Aarafa is from Pakistan, nervously remembers when India shut the border in 2001 after Pakistani militants staged a deadly attack on the parliament building in New Delhi.

The Wagah crossing itself is famous for its colourful "flag lowering" ceremony, that draws huge cheering crowds on both sides of the border post each sunset to see the display of military preening and pageantry.

The ceremony was briefly closed to the public on the Indian side after the strikes in disputed Kashmir to the north of Punjab, which have led to a spike in tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ekim 2016, 10:27