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Monday, January 30, 2023
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Keeping the borders sweet

The gesture (of exchanging sweets) seems to be quite warm and wholesome and it also makes a statement that there is nothing greater than human connection and that wars and hostilities have more of a political and economic agenda that the common man does not care about

The good thing about Pakistan and India is that either side has a bigger sweet tooth. Be it a marriage occasion, or Eid, and Diwali festivals and a newborn’s birth, the people around us demand something sweet.

Recently, I came across the pictures of Pakistan and India border forces exchanging sweets at four crossings in connection with the arrival of the new year – 2022. The occasions must have made the day of the soldiers. Border areas almost all over the world are kept deserted, barren and boring. Border forces do not look at each other in the eye because of the policies of their respective countries.

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These pictures made my day.

Other than the exchange of sweets, both sides exchanged several other things too.

Since 1992, Pakistan and India are under the obligation to provide each other with the details of all nuclear activity that takes place in the respective countries. This exchange of documents takes place on the first of January every year. This time the exchange took place too, even though the neighbours have not been on the best of terms since India repealed Kashmir’s special status. The two countries have had a long history of hostilities and skirmishes along the border are a routine practice. However, since the 2000s, the relationship between the two has become better. Bilateral trade and cultural exchanges took place and it seemed like the hostile neighbours may even become friends. However, the Kashmir issue has always and will always bring about a strain in the relationship of Pakistan and India.

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Along with the lists of nuclear installations, the neighbours also exchanged lists of prisoners that are languishing in each other’s jails. Most of the prisoners are said to be poor fishermen who trespassed over to the other country’s waters by accident. The prisoner exchange is extremely important as these people have families behind them that are likely to have little to no support left as their sole breadwinners are in another country’s jail longing for home.

But the most important thing: the new year also brought with it the display of fundamental human emotion and connection. Troops on either side of the line of control exchanged sweets to mark the start of the new year. The exchange took place at four crossing points: Rawlakot, Chakoti, Chilliana, and Tatapani. The gesture seems to be quite warm and wholesome and it also makes a statement that there is nothing greater than human connection and that wars and hostilities have more of a political and economic agenda that the common man does not care about. Therefore, both countries must sit at the table and come up with a solution to the Kashmir issue as it has been dragged for a long time now and because of it many have lost their lives and loved ones.

I wonder what both sides would have exchanged in sweet packets. Both sides have a similar list of culinary credentials; we try to make an educated guess. The Pakistani baskets might carry Laddu, Gulab Jammun, Gajar Ka Halwa, and Ras Gulla.

Let’s imagine the Indian Mithai Ka Dabba.

The basket must have Kaju ki Barfi, Jalebi, Ghevar, Malpua, Mysore Pak, and Peda.

Whatever the basket’s contents were, I pray that our borders remain peaceful in the ongoing year, and soldiers exchange sweets, not bullets.

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