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Heart-stirring patriotism at the Wagah border

Before sundown every evening, the atmosphere at the Wagah border is charged with excitement and patriotism. Ten officers each from India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers shout commands and stamp feet at the border closing 'lowering of the flags' ceremony or The Beating Retreat ceremony. It is the almost acrobatic march by either side that attracts the most attention in the daily military exercise that both sides have jointly practiced since 1959.

This ceremony takes place at the Wagah border, which as part of the Grand Trunk Road was the only road link between these two countries before the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999.

In an exercise that lasts for 32 minutes, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat march that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates. The spectacle of the ceremony attracts visitors from both sides of the border, and international tourists.