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India, Pakistan call off border ritual after suicide bomb - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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India's BSF soldiers patrol near the fenced border with Pakistan at the Wagah border. (Reuters)

India’s BSF soldiers patrol near the fenced border with Pakistan at the Wagah border. (Reuters)

Wagah, India, Reuters—India and Pakistan have suspended a daily military ritual on their main land border crossing after a suicide attack that killed dozens of people, the first time the colorful parade has been called off since the two countries went to war in 1971.

India’s home ministry said India’s Border Security Force agreed to a Pakistani request to suspend the flag-lowering ceremony to allow mourning.

At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 wounded on Sunday by the explosion that ripped through a car park about 500 meters (yards) from Pakistan’s border gate just as hundreds of people left the popular daily performance.

Every day, thousands of Indians and Pakistanis flock to watch the elaborate show where border security officials kick their feet high and grimace in mock aggression in a peacock-like display of patriotism.

The crowds pack out bleachers set up on either side of the each country’s border gates, which are adorned with large, facing portraits of their founding fathers, Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian side and Mohammed Ali Jinnah on the Pakistani side.

“It is the first time we have suspended the ceremony after the war. The ceremony was not suspended even during Kargil,” India’s home ministry spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia said on Monday, referring to a 1999 conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors in the town of Kargil triggered by a Pakistan army incursion.

India and Pakistan last fought a fully fledged war in 1971, when Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan.

Two kilometers (1.24 miles) before the border, police stopped tourists from entering the area on Monday. Four buses carrying 180 people including students on a trip from Agra to see the border ceremonies were stopped and decided to go back.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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