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New Delhi: Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC and CYDA, aims to create unwavering bonds of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan. The bonds that will survive the vagaries of troubles times. But these bonds will not be artificial ones, they rest on the belief and claim that people of India and Pakistan not only share the same language, culture, values and challenges but also the desire for peace and friendship. It rests on the belief that if there are people on both sides of the border who cannot and do not want to forget the past and do not want others to forget it, there are also people who want to forget the past and not just move on but move along to create a new chapter in history… of friendship and brotherhood.

To remind us about these people every day, on 21st December, Aaghaz-e-Dosti launched its annual “Calendar for Peace and Love” in New Delhi at India International Centre. This was the second Calendar of Peace & Love. The calendar with the paintings of an innocent and apolitical mind will remind us that mindsets have been constructed. Aaghaz-e-Dosti termed these paintings as ‘Paintings of Hope’. The six paintings narrate the desire as well as need to bridge the gap for a happy and prosperous future. Together with the beautiful dreams of the young and innocent, the Calendar also has messages from people who have been actively working to nurture these dreams. This calendar is a collection of these shared dreams of peace and friendship. It serves as a hope shared by people who are just like us, in habit and struggle. With the turn of the pages to start a new month, the hope shall be renewed.

The Calendar was launched along with a discussion or “Sharing of hopes for a peaceful and friendly co-existence”. Calendar included the four lines of famous poem of Sardar Jafri ‘Tum Aao Gulshan-e-Lahore se ae chaman bardosh.” This calendar also included six messages from India and Pakistan invited by the people who are working for Peace. This year Aaghaz-e-Dosti included messages from Kuldip Nair, Pramod Sharma and Satya Pal from India and Raza Rumi, Shakeel Wahidullah Khan and Kiran Nazish from Pakistan.

In the launch in New Delhi that was followed with the discussion named ‘Sharing of Hopes’ , eminent persons participated, who have worked to improved indo-pak relations through different mediums. The Panel included Prof. Dr. D.S. Rana  (Chairperson of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. Sir Ganga Ram Hospital was originally established in Lahore in 1921. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri.), Sh. Pankaj Singh (Eminent Hindi Poet, He has extensively written on art, literature, cinema and international politics. His poems have been translated into Urdu, Bengali, English, Japanese, French, Russian and Polish. He is a member of Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature), Sonya Fatah (A Pakistani filmmaker and Journalist. She is a columnist with Times of India), Jawed Naqvi (Correspondent of Dawn Newspaper (Pakistan) in Delhi), Satya Pal (A veteran peace activist who have worked with Lala Lajpat Rai and was secretary at Servants of People organization. He is Secretary General of South Asian Fraternity) and Ms. Mohini Giri (Chairperson Guild of Service and War Widows Association, She is recipient of Padm Bhushan, Founder trustee- Women’s initiative for Peace in South Asia and associated many other initiatives)

Dr. D.S. Rana talked about that how peace is our requirement and how his own experience was when he travelled to Pakistan and found no difference. He described how Sir Ganga Ram who was a civil engineer by profession established a hospital and several other buildings in Lahore and then came to India and established the hospital here in 1954.

Sh. Jawed Naqvi said that it is important to decide who you want to befriend in the first place. Both the countries have picked up wrong things from each other. He also hinted at the problems of religious extremism that poses a great threat to peace on both sides of the border.

Sonya Fatah said that we need to find new ways to circumvent the air of hostility created by the political agendas on either side of the border. She also talked about the humane aspect of the problem which is all the more appalling.

Sh. Satya Pal, a veteran for Indo-Pak peace efforts, has taken part in many initiatives. One of these is the South Asian University. He also said that a South Asian Peace Conference will be held in Delhi in the last week of December, 2013.

Sh. Pankaj Singh shared some very interesting and heartwarming personal experiences with the audience. He said that it was ironical that Indians and Pakistanis living in other nations form strong bonds of friendship but always keep some reservations back home.

There was also a Pakistani student studying in South Asian University (Delhi), Kulsum Khan who had also shared her experience of living in India. She talked about the similarities in several respects. She talked about how she has been warmly received in India.

The three students from India whose paintings were selected to be included in calendar were also present. They talked about the concept of their paintings and the importance of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti believes that peace is an important and necessary thing and it is in fact very common among all of us regardless of our identity on behalf of nation, religion and caste. It is a natural requirement of living beings. Flowing towards and with the peace activities is natural and required for human development.

The discussion was open to anyone and during last sessions, many from the audience shared their views, participated in discussion and agreed to work for Indo-Pak peace at their level. The Calendar will be launched in Islamabad on 23rd December 2013 at Quaid-e-Azam University.

The programme was not meant to convince or “pacify” another, it was only to raise these voices and also bring out what the common people from India and Pakistan have to say. War is not only disastrous, impractical and sown with seeds of misunderstanding but also unaffordable. We need to move together on the path of progress.

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