The daily scenes of the colourful flag-lowering ceremony staged at the borders of the two nuclear powers of subcontinent give the impression of being a proxy war through parade manners. The sharp cautions, angry flourishes and stomping of boots by soldiers of the two sides promote an atmosphere of aggression and intolerance, promoting revulsion against peaceful coexistence. It appears that the two nations after having gone to several major and minor wars have learnt nothing from their mutual destruction. While erstwhile enemies all over the civilised world have buried the hatchet and diverted their resources from war to economic and social well being of their peoples, Pakistan and India remain hermetically sealed and locked in the hatred of the past. The world has changed beyond recognition thanks to advances in technology. But the two nuclear powers of South Asia stand conspicuously out of sync with the spirit of the age. Concerns about our psyches are exacerbated by the threatening faces of soldiers at Wagah who flash past one another as if they were in the actual battlefield. The innocent people on both sides of the divide raise slogans charged with emotions, an alarming portent of how quickly public frenzy can be built to fight and crush each other. -B.A. MALIK, Islamabad, via e-mail, March 20.