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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2021

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

This volume seeks to provide the first comprehensive social history of the Punjab border. This international border, which was created in 1947 with the end of British colonial rule, defines the boundary of the newly independent states of India and Pakistan. Along the over 550-kilometre section of this western boundary, the Punjab border bears many of the hallmarks of its South Asian prototype. It divided a population that spoke the same language and shared similar cultural traditions. Nevertheless, over the intervening years, territorial anxieties over security and sovereignty triggered concerns regarding unregulated mobilities and the prevalence of informal economies. The border was surveyed, demarcated and marked with pillars, security forces were deployed, and in the aftermath of Sikh militancy in the 1980s, a section was fenced off by India. This book provides a unique insight into the lived realities of the Punjab borderland. This looks at the process of boundary making and its implications for the local people—who lived in the immediate proximity of the border and experienced it most directly in their everyday lives—as well as for the divided cities of Lahore and Amritsar, which fell narrowly on either side of the international border.

Borders are margins and boundaries, which could be interpreted as spaces of both constraints and opportunities. Security analysts and a burgeoning body of scholars have sought to constitute the issue of the Pakistan border as a sensitive one and a matter of national security. They frame the border as a site where the state fought for its sovereignty and the border population suffered from interstate conflicts, presenting the periphery of nation-state as a lawless and backward zone. The focus of raucous debates in the public sphere and much scholarly work has been on Pakistan's ‘political economy of defence’, thus garnering public support for increased border security. This has intensified the widely accepted notion of early Pakistan as a ‘fearful’ state with weak control over its frontiers and has contributed to strategic insecurity and the military's dominance over politics. This dominant narrative of the genesis of Pakistan's precarious security condition as a legacy of Partition, focusing on the Kashmir dispute and its accompanied competition for geographical imaginaries, is limited however. It does not address how the new postcolonial borderlands deal with the state, which results in the presentation of border-dwelling people as ‘a fixed category’.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Punjab Borderland
Mobility, Materiality and Militancy, 1947–1987
, pp. 1 - 24
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Introduction
  • Ilyas Chattha, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  • Book: The Punjab Borderland
  • Online publication: 30 November 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009049184.003
Available formats
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  • Introduction
  • Ilyas Chattha, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  • Book: The Punjab Borderland
  • Online publication: 30 November 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009049184.003
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Ilyas Chattha, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  • Book: The Punjab Borderland
  • Online publication: 30 November 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009049184.003
Available formats
×