Paintings reflect aspiration for maintaining long lasting friendship
LAHORE: The Indo-Pakistan Peace Calendar with inspiring paintings contributed by schoolchildren from across the border launched on Saturday.
The artwork reflects the powerful aspiration of people for maintaining a long lasting and strong friendship throughout their lives. The Pakistani and Indian children, through this initiative, also exchanged heart-warming letters with each other.
The Aaghaz-e-Dosti launched this calendar at the Auditorium Hall of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) in which IA Rehman, Imtiaz Alam, Saleema Hashmi, Saeeda Diep, Nighat Saeed Khan, Salman Rashid, Samina Rehman and Professor Anita Weiss shared their experiences and thought-provoking views.
The calendar also carried inspiring words of personalities who have made a significant contribution to peacebuilding in the Indian subcontinent. Aaghaz-e-Dosti Acting Convener Atiqa Shahid informed the audience that this volunteer friendship initiative was part of the joint efforts of the Hum Sab Aik Hain and India’s Mission Bhartiyam.
She said that the aim of this initiative was to create people-to-people contacts to raise mutual concerns such as poverty, growing intolerance, peaceful coexistence and other social issues that are directly touching the South Asian people. Through this initiative, the Aghaz-e-Dosti team has created a door of friendship through an exchange of letters, greeting cards and cultural and open mic nights via video conferencing.
Atiqa Shahid told the gathering that the impact of this work has been very positive especially in the school communities which greatly helped students to express their affection for each other. It is pertinent to mention here that the Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an apolitical effort by people and carries out its volunteer work while fully respecting all laws of both the countries.
Addressing the ceremony, Imtiaz Alam said that both Pakistan and India were facing a tough time. Besides afresh political engagements, there should be more efforts for peace and friendship between the two neighbours, he said, asking the establishment to give peace a chance. “We have to open doors for peace, as we have no other option but to accommodate corridors leading towards peace,” he said in his thought-provoking address.
In Pakistan, the supporters of deaths and destruction were free to move, but the people with positive approach and peace activists have to face abductions, jails and disappearances, IA Rehman told the audience. “We have to remember that we should not support preachers of hatred,” he said, adding that peace is the final destination for all humans.
“We have to give a strong message to the enemies of peace and the forces behind intolerance that we want peace in Pakistan and in the whole region. We have nothing to do with war mongers and writers of hate speeches,” said Saeeda Diep, the executive director of the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS). “We are peace-loving people and we will continue our journey for peaceful coexistence,” she said.
On the occasion, Nighat Saeed Khan and Salman Rashid also shared stories of their visits to India and interactions with the Indians. They pointed out some mistakes that were the reasons behind intolerance and the disturbance on both sides of the border. Addressing in Urdu and English languages, American academician Anita Weiss shared her opinion about the Pakistani society and appreciated people’s approach towards peace.
Since the last two years, Aaghaz-e-Dosti convener Raza Khan had been organising the calendar launch in Pakistan. But this year, the team members launched the calendar as he was abducted in the first week of December 2017. The acting convener said that his mission for peace and peaceful coexistence would continue with the hope that he would be back soon. Ali Aftab Saeed presented Gulzar’s famous lyrics with a pulsating response from the audience.
Utho kabaddi kabbadi khelenge sahardon par
Jo aye abke to laut kar phir na jaye koi
Nazar mein rehtey ho jab tum nazar nahin aatey
Yeh sur milaatey hain jab tum idhar nahin aatey
On the occasion, the schoolchildren read out letters from Indian students. The organisers informed the audience that they received a lot of letters and greeting cards from the Indian students, while students from Pakistan also send their best wishes through letters and cards. They also said that the Aghaz-e-Dosti members in India also launched the calendar in New Delhi with huge public response.