Soldiers take joint action to tone down high-stepping
Thursday 22 July 2010
For decades, the high-stepping, border closing ceremony at Wagah-Attari has been an opportunity for both Indian and Pakistani soldiers to put on their most aggressive, intimidating display of martial rigour.
But such behaviour comes at a price. Over the years, senior officers have complained that the goose-stepping action and fierce stamping included in the so-called Beating the Retreat ceremony has led to serious ankle and knee injuries among their men. As a result, the two countries – nuclear-armed neighbours that have gone to war four times since they secured their independence from Britain – have decided to take it easy with each other.
Reports suggest the flag-lowering event that takes place every evening at the border, located approximately halfway between the Pakistani city of Lahore and the Indian city of Amritsar, will now feature a performance with slightly less testosterone.
"We have proposed a lowering of the aggression in the gestures during the daily parade, and subsequently took a unilateral decision to implement that," Himmat Singh, a senior officer with the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), told the Hindustan Times. "The Pakistan Rangers have also agreed to the proposal, and toned down their drill."
The daily ceremony attracts hordes of tourists from both countries, who take seats overlooking the border. As the soldiers march towards each other, feet up high and eyes glaring, the patriotic crowds shout and cheer for their side.
Such is the co-ordination required by the soldiers – each country allows only its tallest and fiercest-looking troops to participate – that they often hold joint practice sessions. DVDs of the event are big sellers in shops, both in the Indian border village of Wagah, and at Pakistan's Attari.
The agreement to lower the temperature, coming a week after bad-tempered, ineffectual diplomatic talks in Islamabad, is not the first time that officers have tried to address the problem of "mild to severe" joint injuries accrued at the border ceremony.
Last year it was reported that such was the concern about the injuries to the Pakistan Rangers and Indian BSF troops that a special spring mat was to be laid down for the parade. It is not clear whether this was ever done.
The crossing between the two countries acts as something of a barometer in the relationship between Delhi and Islamabad at any given time. Several years ago, prior to the 2008 Mumbai attacks and when relations were warmer, there was talk of boosting cross-border trade and even of opening direct flights between the two capitals. Yet, while a train and bus service still crosses the border, the number of people who make the trip is not high. People on both sides complain about the difficulty of getting a visa. Cement and tomatoes are the only cargo that gets regular clearance to cross.
Last week's meeting in Islamabad was a disappointment for those hoping the two countries could agree to restart the so-called "composite dialogue" that existed before the 2008 attacks. Despite meeting for several hours, foreign ministers Shah Mehmood Quereshi and SM Krishna failed to made meaningful progress.
Both sides blamed the other, though neither resorted to goose-stepping theatrics.
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...
£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...
£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...