Lahore Situationer (11/20/71)





Intro: Lahore, the second largest city in West Pakistan, is located uncomfortably near the Indian border. It has been a tense city since fears of war between India and Pakistan began mounting. VOA Correspondent Don Weaver cabled this report from Lahore on the atmosphere there.

Text: Citizens here say the tension has abated since earlier this month when war was considered imminent. But in conversations they reflect uneasiness about what the future holds.

Lahore was threatened by the Indian Army in the Indo-Pakistani conflict of September, nineteen sixty-five. And it residents are concerned that it will be one of the early targets in the event of war with India, which is only sixteen kilometers away to the east.

There are admissions that family valuables have been stored away. There has apparently been little transfer of population from Lahore, although it is known that some border people have shifted. This was mainly because of military movement near the frontier.

At nearby Batapur, where a big battle was fought with Indian and Pakistani tanks and planes six years ago, townspeople are drifting back to their homes. Officials at the Batapur Shoe Factory, which was wrecked then by shelling and machinegun fire, report the full complement of thirty-three hundred employees is on hand.

The officials say, however, that some employees did move their families away. Three employees died when the factory was attacked last time. Special security precautions are visible there now, such as sand bags and fire-fighting gear.

Foreigners at Batapur get more than a second look. A stop to review memorials to fallen warriors of the Baluch Regiment draws questioning from suspicious police. And armed men in uniform turn back the car some six kilometers from the frontier, just before the area of Wagah. Much blood was spilled there in the seventeen-day war.
The driver is told he as a Pakistani can continue, but "no foreigners." No troops are in sight.

Back in Lahore, government officials report tension is easing slightly. Lahore has had only one blackout exercise, much less than major cities such as New Delhi and Calcutta.

Lahore's people will tell visitors they are not clamoring for war with India. Nevertheless, like other Pakistani cities, Lahore has its share of "Crush India" rallies of mostly students.

There was a big mass meeting here a few days ago. Some two weeks ago, another such rally got out of hand and shouting students began running through streets, smashing windows of autos without "Crush India" stickers.
Some motorists have taken to affixing the stickers- -not out of chauvinism- -but to protect themselves and their cars. So far, signs such as these proliferating in Islamabad have not been reported in Lahore. Those stickers read: "Crush India, Oust Soviets."