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Conclusion: Between Open and Closed Borders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2021

Ilyas Chattha
Affiliation:
Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
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Summary

Oh how we lost our ways,

For the end seems nowhere in sight,

Dust flies all around,

Muddying our bodies and the essence of our struggle,

Oh how you stung us,

As our sealed wounds reopened

Who then came to this land?

And turned us strangers in our own homes

This border ballad offers a unique perspective where the IPB is perceived and represented as a ‘superimposed’ boundary on a previously homogeneous cultural landscape. Weaving together archival material and newspaper accounts with oral histories, this book explores and makes accessible the world of the Punjab borderland, which straddles the states of India and Pakistan. It has analysed the evolving social history of the Punjab borderland, presenting an alternative reading of spaces and territories, challenging the established historiographical narrative about the problematisation of the border as a concept in the Pakistan boundaries that focuses solely on the constraint side of state borders. The Punjab Borderland, in many ways, offers an account of the IPB that counters the noise created by the state security narrative— the heavily guarded border, violence, the epitome of inter-state—which is far too often one-dimensional. It corrects these accounts by re-surfacing narratives of border crossings and social relations built on mutual benefit and trust. The findings of this book have revealed the border to be vibrant and often transgressed, for trade purposes, albeit illicit, for much longer and more profitable than presumed. The establishment of Punjab as an international boundary and new restrictions on trade and mobility that accompanied it significantly disrupted the traditional lifeways of the region. There were however distinct advantages to the local population in the borderland where it presented untold benefits and people continued to carry goods across the new international lines, responding to the state-imposed restrictions in varied ways and creating their own native values about transborder mobilities.

With no previous experience of bordering, Punjab border population proved themselves highly adept at exploiting the newly created international border. People visited relatives on the other side of the line and attended social events such as marriages and funerals. They also attended each other's markets and visited cinema theatres even during periods of tension. While people would cross the border for social necessities, cross-border trade formed the most enduring basis of continuing cross-border interplays that challenged national definitions of space and sovereignty and resiliently persisted decades after Partition.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Punjab Borderland
Mobility, Materiality and Militancy, 1947–1987
, pp. 269 - 282
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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