Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pakistan makes Wagah crossing more India-friendly

ISLAMABAD, March 20, 2013

The relaxed India-Pakistan visa regime may have hit a rough patch with rollbacks on commitments following the clashes along the Line of Control (LoC) in January, but Pakistan has evidently gone the extra mile to be welcoming towards Indians entering through the Wagah border road crossing in Punjab.

Possibly in anticipation of greater traffic — particularly from the northern parts of India — Pakistani authorities have for the first time put up signposts in Hindi for the convenience of Indians travelling in. Now, the most sought after services at the checkpost have now been marked out in three languages: English, Urdu and Hindi.

Though Hindi is well understood here just as much as Urdu is in much of North India, the Devanagari script is practically alien to Pakistan. So some of the spellings and even the translation do not stand scrutiny; a case in point being the board that marks out the access point for "arriving passengers only" as "aane".

According to one Indian crossing over through Wagah, officials told her the Hindi words and spellings for 'Green Channel', 'Red Channel', 'Immigration', 'toilets', 'drinking water fountain', 'Customs' and 'waiting hall' were picked up with the help of Google search. Eager to please, the officials asked her if they had the translation and spellings correct.

The process started in January as both countries were to switch over to the new visa regime from mid-month but India held back on some counts owing to the cross-LoC clashes. The gesture is yet to be reciprocated by India. On the Indian side, the signposts are still only in Hindi, English and Gurmukhi.
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