Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Peace building is nothing new for the students and teachers of Modernage Public School and College, Abbottabad, They have been partnering with City Montessori School in Lucknow since 2005 when a group went over for the Computer Olympiad. Since then, two other groups were able to visit, both in 2007. They fondly remember the warmth they received from their counterparts and intelligentsia during these visits.
When the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore in 2009, around 1700 students from this school signed a huge banner in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.
So it was not surprising that they also participated enthusiastically in the Aman ki Asha Peace Chain initiative of Jang Group and Times of India.
Last Friday, hundreds of handkerchiefs that the Abbottabad students had painted with messages and images of peace were displayed at the school premises. At least ten principals of various local schools and colleges attended this special ceremony, besides the school staff and students and some civil society members.
Educationists and other visitors appreciated the idea of signing and painting handkerchiefs and the students' creative skills. Their paintings and impressions depicted the importance of peace in the world in general and between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in particular.
"People to people contact between Pakistan and India and especially those who represent the next generation will yield positive results as far as peace is concerned," believes Wahid Siraj, the principal of Modernage Public School. "War is never a solution. It only creates and multiplies multidimensional problems. Wars bring hunger, poverty, disease and deprivation which breeds extremism."
Students sang peace anthems and national songs before signing a banner for Aman ki Asha as a gesture of peace for the Indian students and public. The banner and handkerchiefs will be handed over to Indians during the Queens' Baton Relay ceremony on June 25 at Wagah border, which Aman ki Asha is also participating in.
Sumeera Wahid, principal of the Modernage Public School girls' section and the main force behind the signatures and handkerchiefs painting campaign at the school, believes that peace is imperative for the development and survival of the human race now and in times to come.
"Most people in the world want peace and harmony," she says. "There are very few warmongers but these few people disturb and destroy peace. We must not let peace become hostage to these forces. We must give peace a chance and maintain it at all costs." She thanked Jang Group and Geo TV for taking up this great cause.
Students told The News that they wished for visa restrictions between the two nations to be eased. "We want to visit each other and learn from each other's experiences through exchange programmes," said one. However, they are all too well aware that the two countries continue to deny visas to each other's citizens. Several times, their groups have been denied visas to India, while the Pakistani authorities have also denied visas to groups from their partner City Montessori School in Lucknow.
"We want both governments to resolve all disputes through negotiations and give peace a chance. This must happen, it is inevitable," said a student.
These children are well aware of the benefits of peace, which they believe will end enmity, reduce poverty, and allow resources to be diverted towards more and better health and educational facilities for the people, many of whom live below the poverty line.
Peace will improve the ties of the two countries where despite stockpiles of nuclear weapons hundreds of thousands of women die every year during or after childbirth due to lack of proper medical care; millions of people do not have access to clean drinking water. Peace is the only solution to the countless problems facing both countries, and these students believe that whoever takes this initiative must be open heartedly supported.
"Peace is not a privilege for us but our right," they say. "We must demand this right but it may take us a while to earn this right and then defend it."
Caption: The banner and handkerchiefs will be handed over to India during the Queens' Baton Relay ceremony on June 25 at Wagah border
I have seven mouths to feed on the paltry Rs 1500 given by the government as compensation after my husband was detained by the Pakistan Marine Agency. It was September 2008, when he left in his boat, promising to return in 15 days. He never did. Since he disappeared, I visit the local fishing association office desperately hoping for some news, only to be told that the matter will be taken up by the government and he will return when his turn comes
- Dudhiben Jethwa,
Journalists from different media organizations also find it tough to go to the other country. Allowing only two resident correspondents is insufficient in terms of providing proper coverage about current affairs. India and Pakistan have a burgeoning media industry but most of it is busy spewing hatred and spreading negative news about the other. Take the Mumbai incident, or the Shoaib-Sania wedding -- both were portrayed in a partial manner. More journalists would help the man on the street learn how the other country feels about his. It will help end rumour and clichéd stereotypes
- Abid Hussain,
Journalists can be the biggest catalysts in building the peace mechanism between India and Pakistan. To support the logic, one should cross the border and feel the pulse of a nation that has erroneously been branded as enemy number one. I did cross the border last October and all I found were friends and no enemies at all. When the common man travels to another country, he gets in touch with his relatives and friends. But the visit of a journalist makes all the difference when his unbiased observations about the country and people reaches a wider range of people and corrects their perceptions
- Arfa Khanum Sherwani,
journalist, New Delhi
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw