Indo-Pak initiatives like Aaghaz-e-Dosti is heart-touching. Such peace initiatives need to increase because peace is the desire of the people and is the way forward. – Manoj Jain
BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint Indo-Pak initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC, every year launches a calendar in India and Pakistan, titled as ‘Calendar for Peace & Love’. This calendar includes selected paintings of students from India and Pakistan and is launched followed by a seminar ‘Sharing of Hopes’. This calendar also includes messages from renowned personalities working on the peace from both the countries. The importance of the calendar is that it is a collection of shared dreams and hopes for friendship which we will be reminded of everyday.`
This year’s Indo-Pak Peace Calendar initiative was organized in collaboration with Indian Council for Talent Search and Competitions (ICTSC) and Yuvsatta from India and Social Awareness Media and Art Junction (SAMAAJ), South Asian Writers and Artists Network (SAWAN) and JAD Foundation from Pakistan.
We had got a tremendous participation in our competition for paintings from youths of both the countries. From India, we received paintings from Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana. From Pakistan, we received paintings from Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Chitral and Karachi. This year, we received messages from Ms. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, Ms. Shaila Kejriwal, Admiral Ram Das, Prof. Chaman Lal and Mr. Manik Samajdar from India. From Pakistan, we got messages from Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Ms. Reema Abbasi, Ms. Sheema Kermani, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad, Mr. B.M. Kutty, Mr. Karamat Ali and Mr. Aamir Nawaz.
The launch in Delhi was organized on 28th December at India International Centre. The calendar is launched alongwith a discussion or “Sharing the hopes for a peaceful co-existence”. The speakers included Ms. Saima Sayed (First Secretary at the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi), Prof. Chaman Lal (Presently Professor-Coordinator at Centre for Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture (Central University of Punjab, Bhatinda), Mr. Vishwajyoti Ghosh (Renowned Graphic Novelist and Political Cartoonist), Mr. Deepak Malviya (Secretary of Servants of the People Society, established in 1921 by Lala Lajpat Rai in Lahore). and Mr. Manoj Jain (Owner of Ultrawalls, one of our sponsors).
Prof. Chaman Lal talked about the reverence that Bhagat Singh receives in Pakistan. He regarded Bhagat Singh as an important bridge between the people of the two countries. Likewise, there is also great respect for B.R. Ambedkar and Tipu Sultan in Pakistan, like in India. He also talked about the hospitality of Pakistanis towards people of India. He said that the war and hatred is a game of politicians.
Mr. Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Graphic Novelist and Political Cartoonist, said that there is a lot of curiosity among people on both sides to know each other. He shared his experiences of being in Lahore and said that people in Pakistan are very loving and hospitable to people of India. He also talked about the need to engage more critically with the discourse on partition.
Mr. Deepak Malviya, Secretary of Servants of the people society, talked about the efforts that Lala Lajpat Rai had done for the welfare of the people. He had established the Gulab Devi Hospital which still exists in Lahore. He said that Servants of the People Society that was established by Lala Lajpat Rai in Lahore in 1921 and is now in India continues to propagates his teachings, his objective to spread peace. He talked about the importance of peace. He said that there is a need to increase people-to-people interaction.
Ms. Saima Sayed, First Secretary(Political) at High Commission of Pakistan, said that people of both countries are bounded by common culture and history. People in both countries are curious about each other. She talked about the positive role that student exchange programme, interactive sessions and initiatives like Zindagi channel are playing to bring people closer and realise that people on the other side are just the same.
Mr. Manoj Jain, Owner of Ultrawalls, said that Indo-Pak initiatives like Aaghaz-e-Dosti was heart-touching. He said that such peace initiatives need to increase because peace is the desire of the people and is the way forward.
Senior Gandhian and Secretary of Gandhi Global Family, Mr. Ram Mohan Rai talked about the efforts of Dr. Nirmala Deshpande who is famously called “Didi” and who was honore with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan and the title of “Sitara-e-Pakistan”. He also shared his experience of being in Karachi. He said that there is no difference in the thinking of people on both sides of the border.
Dr. Rafida Nawaz who is from Multan (Pakistan) was in India for a conference. She shared her experience of being here. Like the Indians, she said that you can’t note any difference. People are very warm and loving. She said that we need to forget the past and move on for a prosperous future for both countries. She said that there should be competition but it should be confined to cricket matches.
Renowned Hindi Poet and Journalist, Mr. Pankaj Singh, also shared his experiences of meeting with Pakistanis during the time when he was in BBC. He shared how he had developed strong bonds of friendship with them which continues to exist. He said that he hopes that the restrictions should be done away with and people are able to meet each other easily. He is hopeful of a better future, a future of everlasting peace and friendship.
Mr. Pankaj Chaturvedi from National Book Trust talked about the need to strengthen the civil society in both countries. He said that a war industry exists. The common people needs to realise this. There is no glory and future in war.
The students from Delhi, whose paintings got selected came with their parents. They talked about their paintings, the vision behind it. The concerned teachers of participating schools had also come.
People from all walks of life came to participate. Many people shared their experience of going to Pakistan or having met people from Pakistan and all of them said the same thing that there is no difference. The people from Pakistan are very loving and hospitable.
Mr. Parmod Pahwa shared his experience of visiting Pakistan and experiencing the hospitality of the people of Pakistan. He said that peace talks is the only way ahead.
During the open session, people shared their views. Mr. Salim said that there is a lot of misconception that exists in both countries. We need to increase communication channels. He said that it is easier to go to USA than to visit each other.
Zainab Akhtar, a research student, said that there is a need to emphasise on similarities than on differences. There is a lot that we share.