LAHORE: At a time when India-Pakistan relations at state to state level cannot be said to be very good, it seems that people to people relations would still continue. Recently, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, which is an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative and mostly works with school students on both sides, announced to invite peace paintings from school students of India and Pakistan for its 10th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar. This is a unique concept of calendar wherein twelve best paintings (six from India and Pakistan each) get a chance to be featured in the form of calendar months.
Convener of Aaghaz-e-Dosti Devika Mittal says about the importance of this calendar that “The calendar with the paintings of an innocent and apolitical mind will remind us that mindsets have been constructed. 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 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.”
She said that the Calendar launch is followed by a discussion or “Sharing of Hopes for a Peaceful and Friendly Co-existence” every year.
“Working since 2011, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has already released nine such calendars. Our aim is to work with school students because they are going to be responsible citizens of the future and their future should be hatred free- violence free and war free. When students create an art, it brings their emotions, their thoughts and their dreams. When we see these arts in the calendar, we see that we probably need to learn a lot from these students.” Said Ravi Nitesh, founder of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
Umair Ahmed, a member of Aaghaz-e-Dosti from Toba Tek Singh Pakistan believes that by creating such calendar, students from both side actually exercising their right to peace. He said that in all these seven decades, we created many barriers in movement and communication but still we all dream for a day when people from both sides can meet easily but for that we need to work more on creating a culture of peace through education.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti coordinator Nitin Mittoo from Punjab informed that any school student from sixth standard to twelfth standard studying in India or Pakistan or any Indian/Pakistani students in other countries can take part just by sending their scanned paintings to Aaghaz-e-Dosti at email id [email protected].
“Being a voluntary initiative, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has a network of youths from India and Pakistan who help in running the programs. During all these years, Aaghaz-e-Dosti have received recognitions and awards at various levels and many eminent persons and stalwarts of peace like Dr Asma Jahangir, Kuldeep Nayar, Kamla Bhasin, Dr S N Subbarao, Swami Agnivesh, Dr I A Rehman, Ela Gandhi, Dr Shashi Tharoor, Mubashir Hasan, Dr Salima Hashmi and many others have supported the initiative through their messages and participation. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is planning to release the tenth peace calendar in January 2022. During these years, many schools took part in this initiative from almost all regions of India and Pakistan” informed Pragya Narang, a member of Aaghaz-e-Dosti in its coordination team.