NEW DELHI — On the Indo-Pak front, these are not the best of times; but that does not stop this handful of peaceniks to hope for peace and better times. Aaghaz e Dosti — a group of peace activists — launched its 8th Indo-Pak peace calendar at an event held in Indian International Centre here this weekend.
Prominent civil society members addressed the gathering, highlighting the need for peace between India and Pakistan. The calendar has 12 hand-drawn paintings of school children — 6 each from India and Pakistan. The paintings carry messages of peace and love. The students whose paintings feature in the calendar were felicitated with certificates.
Activist Sushoba Bharve recounted how her intimate relationship with Pakistan started. She has been visiting the country since the 80s and continues her visits now and then. During these years, she got friendly with many Pakistanis and established a group of likeminded activists who organise seminars and events for students drawn from the two countries.
Radha Bhat, a life Gandhian and environmental activist, said she was deeply moved by the love and respect she got from people in Pakistan during her visits there. “We also should look at Pakistan with love,” she said.
Kapil Kap, the retired Air Vice Marshal, said the present bilateral situation does not allow much hope for peace but added that the opening of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrimage gave a glimmer of hope. He suggested that Pakistan rein in non-state actors while India take a relook at its recent Kashmir moves. “The abrogation of Article 370 was a huge setback to the relationship between the two countries,” he said.
Joseph Kalithil SJ, who has come to be known as The Postcard peace Activist for his initiative of exchanging postcards and letters between school children of the two countries, said, “The best way to achieve peace is by removing the barbed wire from our hearts.”
Swami Agnivesh was the last among the panelists to address the audience. He referred to the adage of Vaudeiva Kutumbam (‘world is one family) and asked the audience to not let the man made boundaries to “fill you with hate and prejudice against others”. He congratulated Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for making the Kartarpur corridor possible.
“I request the conveners of the Aaghaz e Dosti to hold a conference in Kartarpur,” Agnivesh said.