Crowd at Wagah- Atari Border parades thinning out

Crowd at Wagah- Atari Border parades thinning out


Crowd at Wagah- Atari Border parades thinning out

Some attribute it to inflation while others believe today’s generation isn’t interested in them

Soaring inflation in Pakistan and security concerns are affecting the splendor of Wagah- Atari Border – a celebrated relic of the partition of 1947 – as the crowd continues to shrink in comparison to those who attend the parade from across the border.

Initially, the parade started witnessing thin crowds after the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. However, while the world returned to normalcy, Wagah- Atari Border has not witnessed the same enthusiasm since. The socio-economic factors in Pakistan are now the biggest reasons behind this.

Analysts believe inflation is the main reason behind this. They also believe that the young generation is no longer interested in aggressive parades.

Wagah-Atari Border connects two major cities on both sides of the border and is renowned for the glamorous flag-hoisting ceremonies held daily. Troops of Pakistan Rangers, and Border Security Force (BSF) participate in the parade and respectfully lower their respective national flags.

Thousands of citizens from both sides of the border come to attend this parade in the past. The stadium built by Pakistan has a seating capacity of 10,000. However, only 1,500 to 2,000 people are found in the audience these days, with Sunday being the only exception when the number reaches 3,000. While the regular attendance has decreased, the stadium witnesses an overflow of spectators on national days.

On the other side of the border, the stadium built by India has a capacity of 25,000 spectators and the regulars are relatively more than Pakistanis.

Asri Khan came to Lahore from Karachi to visit her relatives and attended the parade for the first time. She told The Express Tribune that she did not witness the enthusiasm they tend to see on television since half the stadium was empty.

Maryam Khan, another spectator, echoed similar sentiments, saying that she was initially concerned about finding a seat, but found the place to be quite empty.

Irfan Ali, a vendor who sells artificial Indian jewellery and cosmetic products near the border, attributed this to soaring inflation, saying that as the number of spectators decreased, his customers decreased by more than 50 per cent.

The Punjab Tourism Department runs a double-decker bus from Gaddafi Stadium to Wagah Border. Ashfaq Dogar, a manager there, said that the fare is Rs 600 and has remained constant for the last one-and-a-half years. However, inflation is certainly making a difference.

Some citizens believe that people are avoiding the border because of the law and order situation and the strict security arrangements there.

Ravi Nitesh, an Indian activist working for peace and friendship between Pakistan and India, said that the parade enjoys global fame, and spectators are filled with love for their country and their military. He, however, expressed his opposition to hatred, anger, and tensions during the parade in front of thousands of people.

“We are insensibly creating hatred in the hearts of the people on both sides,” the activist said. “The parade can be normal, there is no need to stare at each other or angrily shake heads and hands.”

Malik Abdullah, a human rights activist, asked whether such parades happen on the border of Afghanistan and Iran. He noted that India did not hold such parades on the border it shares with other countries.

“Today’s generation does not like this extreme style,” he added.