Our Correspondent | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Amid increasing hostility between India and Pakistan, there are people’s groups that are active to promote cause of peace. Embarking upon such an initiative, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a peace advocacy group, released a Indo-Pak Peace Calendar in New Delhi on Monday.
Many people including army veterans, common youths and school students gathered in India International Centre, Delhi, for the release event.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti works to foster people to people relations between
India and Pakistan through its voluntary network of youths in both
countries. This peace calendar includes paintings of school students
from Pakistan and India on the theme of Peace and six paintings from
each country gets selected for being published in the form of calendar
as a message of 365 days of peace. Running this unique concept since
last seven years, Aaghaz-e-Dosti receives entries every year and many
schools and students take part in the programme.
While releasing the seventh Peace Calendar along with a seminar titled
“Sharing of Hopes for Peaceful Co-existence”, the renowned Islamic
scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan told that students in both countries
have done a great work and they must understand that their efforts for
peace would make our societies more humane.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, a renowned writer and former aide to late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said that young generation is the hope for both
countries. He remembered how the initiatives like start of bus, train
and trade services across borders bring happiness to local people and
hence more such steps should be taken.
Major General TK Kaul, who has been recipient of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, talked about how there are veterans in both countries who advocate peace. He told that Indians and Pakistanis are the same people, separated by geography and man-made border. He told that war and conflict must not come in the way of peace and brotherhood.
He also read message of Lt. General Humayun Bangash of Pakistan about need of peace and focus on development. Another Major General M.A. Naik said that the real importance of peace can be well understood by a soldier. He insisted that peace building and developing a culture of peace is much required. Senior Journalist Rezaul Hasan Laskar, who has worked in Pakistan as an Indian correspondent, talked about his experiences in Pakistan and that common people desire peace and friendship. Brig. Anil Malhotra also applaud efforts of students who are responsible future citizens of these countries and hence need to think about peace.
Peace calendar also includes messages from 12 renowned persons from
both countries who favor Indo-Pak Peace. This year, the peace calendar
carrying messages of people like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Nandita Das, Major General (Retd) TK Kaul, Prof. Happymon Jacob , Rana Safvi and Rajagopal PV from India and of Mehmal Sarfaraz, Husain Naqi, Amarnath Randhawa, Dr Ashok Kumar, Dr. Ruksana David and Prof Ayesha Jalal from Pakistan.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti aims to create unwavering bonds of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan and seeks to become the medium to discover and recognise the misrepresented reality on the other side of the border. It is focused on citizen diplomacy and works primarily through peace education aimed at familiarising the people about the “other”, countering stereotypes, homogenised and negative image of the other, educating them about the issues of conflict, the existence of diverse views and developing critical thinking and developing confidence in dialogue and peace building for conflict resolution.
Devika Mittal, convener of Aaghaz-e-Dosti in India, told the
Caravan Daily that the importance of the calendar is that it is a
collection of shared dreams and hopes for friendship which we will be
reminded of every day. “This calendar is one of our peace education
activities in schools and colleges. The purpose of these activities is
to enable the future leaders to forge the path to a better world by
engaging them with aspects of critical thinking, civic engagement and
dialogue as solution.
This year again Aaghaz-e-Dosti received many paintings from many schools of Pakistan and India. In these six years, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has been received paintings from school students from almost all states and provinces of India and Pakistan,” she said.
Talking more about Aaghaz-e-Dosti, Ravi Nitesh, founder of the group,
told the Caravan Daily that Aaghaz-e-Dosti has given peace trainings to
more than 7000 students and youngsters through 25 Aman Chaupals (peace session) across India and Pakistan and also uses video conferencing to connect classrooms of India and Pakistan in sessions called Indo-Pak Classroom Connect that facilitates interaction between students of India and Pakistan. Aaghaz-e-Dosti conducts regular exchange of letters and cards between students of India and Pakistan and has exhibited these letters at the renowned Faiz Ghar (house of Faiz Ahmed Faiz) in Lahore.