Serious security fears have been raised by the recent opening of the land route with Pakistan, a move intended to increase trade. The Wagah border in the northern state of Punjab, which closed for trade after the third India-Pakistan war in 1971, was hastily opened this month when Islamabad granted India preferential trading status. Two large consignments of potatoes have been sent to Pakistan and more goods await shipment, but senior intelligence officials said the reverse flow of goods could contain weapons. India holds Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence responsible for fomenting Sikh separatism in Punjab for nearly 12 years, until it was stamped out in 1992 after more than 17,000 people died. Pakistan denies the allegation but, after erecting electrified fencing along most of the 450-kilometre border in the early 1990s, India said it had mostly stopped the smuggling of weapons to Punjab's terrorists. With the border now open, Federal Intelligence Bureau officials said it would provide a 'legitimate' route for Pakistan to smuggle arms into the nearby state of Kashmir, where armed separatists have been fighting for an independent Islamic homeland for nearly seven years. To support their fears, they said a huge cache of weapons had already been recovered from a tourist bus that had come through Wagah. Security forces manning the border said once trade increased, checking each vehicles would be difficult if not impossible. After independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, two rail routes and the overland Wagah border were the only crossing points between the two neighbours. One rail route passed through Atari, a few kilometres from Wagah, while the other was at Munabao in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, alongside Pakistan's Sind province. Both rail routes were closed after the wars of 1965 and 1971, but Atari was reopened following the Shimla Agreement in 1972. Diplomatic relations have deteriorated drastically over the past five years with each side accusing the other of sponsoring terrorism. India's new United Front Government, however - responding to Pakistan's offer of increased bilateral trade, and convinced that increased commerce is a positive way forward - has not hesitated to open the border. 'The intelligence agencies are constantly suspicious of a India-Pakistan trade detente,' said a Commerce Ministry official. They do not realise that increased trade will improve relations and ease security tensions, he added.