India and Pakistan are in talks to scale up a border crossing in Punjab’s Fazilka into a tourist spot similar to the Wagah checkpost between them, where security forces from both nations carry out a an elaborate ceremony every evening as a mark of bonhomie.
The Sadiqi joint check post, 13km from Fazilka, is one of three border openings shared by the two nations, which have a history of bitterness and have fought three wars since become independent from the British in 1947.
It will be upgraded with infrastructure for spectators who will get to see men from India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan’s Rangers carry out an elaborate flag-lowering military drill in tandem.
“Sadiqi and Sulemanki have tourism potential so both nations have made up their mind to develop the JCP (joint checkpost). It may later lead to the opening of trade and traffic from Pakistan here,” a BSF official said wishing to be unnamed since he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
In addition to Sadiqi and Wagah, India and Pakistan have a border crossing at Hussainiwala — 100km from Fazilki — where a joint ceremony is held.
“At Sadiqi, the BSF personnel and Pakistani Rangers march and lower the national flags in their respective territories, while at Wagah and Hussainiwala, their counterparts cross the Radcliffe Line, shake hands and lower the flags,” the official said.
Radcliffe Line is the border that was drawn up during India’s partition.
The plan to upgrade Sadiqi was mooted at a joint meeting held between the BSF and the Rangers.
Sources said an approval from the Union government is expected soon and work to shift the retreat ceremony to the Zero Line will start in a month.
“The distance between the spot where the retreat ceremony is held at Sadiqi will be reduced by 20 metres on each side. This will draw more tourists,” the BSF official said.
No construction, such as bunkers, will be allowed within 150 metres on either side of the border at Sadiqi, the two sides defined.