There are people who move from one country to another. Then there are people for whom their country moves.
As borders are drawn, families and markets are split, creating a host of challenges for local livelihoods. "This is particularly true of [areas] where the national border was drawn in a way that ignored the natural and social divisions recognized by local people and which, today, remains porous to movements of people and goods. However, notwithstanding the artificial nature of this border, it is now necessary for border communities to organize their lives around it", write Chew et al. (2004, pg.1).
The news of a creation of a new checkpost at Attari reminded me of a BBC news from 2007, reporting on those living the border challenges daily in the India-Pakistan border. As Muslims rushed to Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs to India, hundreds of thousands died on the journey as religious factions fought where their paths crossed. With the creation of the new border, those who owned farms at the border all of a sudden found their land turn into no-man's land in 1947. Farmers now need a special permit to work on their own land and are allowed to work only at certain times of the day.
Border communities generally lag behind in terms of development relative to those in the center. The interests of border regions typically receive inadequate attention from national governments. Continually being neglected by national policymaking processes in the capital cities may lead to resentment at the borders, as local communities are most directly affected by border policies. Such resentment may be expressed in the form of riots and protests, upsetting regional peace and harmony.
Border zones are particularly vulnerable in periods of instability. While conflicts may not be initiated in these areas, their consequences often manifest there: refugee flows, circulation of armed groups, illicit trafficking of merchandise and resources. As trade zones, they are also havens where fleeing populations are protected and economies of war develop. Reducing conflict and violence is a prerequisite to political stability, which, in turn, is the prerequisite for implementing pro-growth policies.
The situation does not seem to have improved much in the Indo-Pak border region, but efforts are being made to remove hurdles in the way of trade, such as the creation of new checkpost at Attari and issuing of visa on arrival for children and seniors.