At a time when tempers are high on both sides of the border, with a section of society questioning the idea of peaceful India-Pakistan relations and advocating jingoistic response to the recent violence at the Line of Control, Aaghaze-e-Dosti, people’s “Initiative for Friendship” at Gandhi Peace Foundation here in the Capital has reaffirmed the hopes and possibilities of peace and love between the two neighbours.

The initiative was part of a global vigil expected to be observed in Lahore, Mumbai, Karachi, Cambridge MA, Washington DC, New York and Toronto for India-Pakistan peace.

Highlighting that India and Pakistan have for over centuries shared the same culture, language, history and memory, the speakers at the launch of the initiative vowed to empower people’s voices so that they could convey their strong feelings for peace to the political leadership.

While talking about the predominant wish among the citizens of the two neighbouring countries for peaceful relations, founder of India Pakistan Families Solidarity Association Sirish Agarwal argued that his several visits to Pakistan only strengthened his long-held belief that people always wanted the two countries to have not only peaceful but harmonious and loving relationship.

‘No to jingoism’

“The main problem is that the constituency of peace in both the countries, somehow, has not yet been able to convey its strong feelings for peace across to its political leadership. We want to evolve an advocacy based group where people across the border strongly and categorically convey to their political representatives that they want peace and would never tolerate their jingoistic political rhetoric,” he said.

Every time Kulsum Khan, a resident of Karachi who is currently doing her L.LM from South Asian University in New Delhi, goes back to Pakistan or comes to India people across the border ask her about the situation of their respective neighbours. She was joined by her classmate Subul Khan Choudhary in this “realization of overwhelming love which defines the people’s mood and views for each other.”

“It was only after coming and staying in India did I realise how deep and close have been our bonds which have withstood the ravages of time and history,” said Ms. Choudhary, a resident of Lahore.

Talking about the craze people in Pakistan have for Indian serials, Pankaj Chaturvedi, an editor with National Book Trust, highlighted the need for “people-to-people contact to go beyond and counter the perception” propagated by the jingoistic media in both the countries. “In Karachi, I have seen more than 10 garment shops with big posters which say ‘saree used by stars in popular India serial Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi is available here’.”

He proposed journalists from both the countries to start features media services which could highlight work to counter the “narrative of hate mongers” in both the countries by highlighting the shared history and culture.

The “Calendar for Peace and Love”, consisted of paintings advocating peace drawn by school children of both the countries, was also launched at the meet.

To convey his point home about the need for peace in the Sub Continent, Ravi Nitesh from Mission Bharatiyam, which initiated Aaghaz-e-dosti, recited the verse of Sardar Jafri: “Tum aao gulshan-e-Lahore se chaman bardosh, hum aaye subh-e-Banaras ki roshni lekar / Himalay ki havaaon ki taazgi le kar, aur iske baad yeh poochein ki kaun dushman hai”.

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