WHAT had changed at Wagah, I wondered, as our bus left the Attari border check post behind, rolled into Pakistan and sped eagerly towards Lahore. The sky was the same clear evening blue, the trees and the lush green fields flanking the road looked no different. Even the roadside welcome to the Delhi-Lahore Friendship Bus had the same spontaneity on both sides of no-man's-land. After seeing the apparently endless line of tricolour-waving well-wishers on the stretch from Amritsar to Attari, I had wondered what the other side of the border would be like. Certainly, there were no Pakistani flags to greet us. But they were not needed. Untutored smiles and unrehearsed waving more than made up for the missing flag, and also for the smattering of black Jamaat-e-Islami flags.
What, then, changed at Wagah? Looking back at our all-too-brief journey to Pakistan-which lasted less than 30 hours including travel time-I am convinced that what changed was history. All too often, it is history that changes men, determining what we can and cannot do. Partition, and the five strife-filled decades since had decreed that the people of Delhi could not take a bus to Lahore to see their relatives. Lahoris could not drive the mere 72 kilometres across to Amritsar to take in a late evening film show.