Less aggressive now?
DROPLETS of light rising from candles are gradually taking effect at Wagah. They are a metaphor for a future that must be explored and discovered, a vindication for the activists who are so often blamed for taking Pak-India peace as little more than a holiday trip. The light as a people’s collective offers a mild, soothing contrast to the thunderous war theatrics the border between Pakistan and India is famous for. The two have learnt to coexist. In fact, the battle routine the soldiers so proudly display each evening at the lowering of the Pakistani and Indian flags amid nationalist chants by the crowd gathered there is undergoing modifications. A dialogue has been opened to rid the drill of some of its more offensive gestures. Soldiers are talking, enabled by the new mood the peace activists have helped shape.
Gathering on either side of Wagah each year for a joint celebration of the Independence Day, peace activists have themselves come some distance. They were berated and threatened with isolation when they first decided to hold the border candle vigil some years ago. Today, the trends have changed sufficiently enough for the media to give a positive spin to the talks that have in recent past been held to make the border drill less aggressive, and to not miss the ceremonial exchange of sweets between the soldiers of the two countries. It appears, and appears so vividly on the television screen, that the old prediction about peace having a market in the subcontinent has also been vindicated. Tensions sell, too, and it is not that the issues have been resolved and a friendship bond established forever. There will always be some matters pending — even if the alternative route to resolution is lit up for more and more people to see and traverse.