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Pakistan flags a border ‘spy’ in the sky

It is 120 feet long and 80 feet wide (A tennis court, by comparison, is 78 feet by 27 feet). It flutters on a 360-foot high flagpole weighing 55 tons, and the whole project cost `3.5 crore.

Published: 09th March 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2017 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

It is 120 feet long and 80 feet wide (A tennis court, by comparison, is 78 feet by 27 feet). It flutters on a 360-foot high flagpole weighing 55 tons, and the whole project cost `3.5 crore. Last Sunday, Punjab Minister Anil Joshi hoisted India’s largest flag on the tallest flagpole near the tourism building at the Attari–Wagah checkpost, barely 150 meters from the border with Pakistan.

Though work began on the project in April last year, plans to hoist it on Republic Day this year were shelved due to some ‘technical reasons’. Given the model code of conduct in place for the Assembly polls in the State, Joshi had to get special permission from the EC for the inauguration.

On a clear day, the giant Tricolour can apparently be seen from Lahore. In fact, with the floodlights in place, it can even be seen at night. Unlike the regular flag at the border crossing, which is ceremoniously brought down at dusk and hoisted again at dawn, the sheer size of this flag means it is a permanent fixture high above the border gates. 

Pakistan was not amused. Even as it was being installed, Pakistani Rangers at the border protested, asking it be moved further inside Indian territory.

Then a few days before the ceremony, there were formal protests, with Pakistan officials insisting the construction of a flagpole so close to the border violated international treaties.

They also expressed apprehensions that India had cameras atop the flagpole to ‘spy’ on the border. “It is our national flag and nobody can stop us from hoisting it on our soil,” responded Joshi. 

Brushing off accusations about cameras atop the flagpole, an Indian official said that at a time when “satellites allow detailed real time observation of every moving object on Pakistani soil, the notion we would waste our time and energy to use this flagpole for spying is patently ridiculous.” Besides, he laughed, adding “it would violate our own flag code”.

An enraged Pakistan is now reportedly considering building an even larger flagpole on their side of the border. 

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