Butool Hisam writes about a unique cross-border initiative she is involved in to bring young people of India and Pakistan closer together
I come from there and remember,
I was born like everyone is born, I have a mother
and a house with many windows,
I have a view of my own and an extra blade of grass.
I have a moon past the peak of words.
I have learned and dismantled all the words to construct a single one:
- Mahmoud Darwish, "I am There"
There are many nations in this world that have a bitter history with their neighbours. India and Pakistan inevitably come to mind when we consider this. Yet the truth is that while we may exist as separate nations on a map, the weight of history can only bear so much. Under the starry skies, as a view from above, our shared border is accentuated by bright lights that shine almost ironically paying a tribute not just to two countries but to the common origin... once a single homeland.
Less than a month ago, Ronny Edry, an Israel graphic designer, husband and father of two created an online digital poster. It had a photo of him holding his daughter and beneath it the words, 'Iranians we <3 you'. It was a poster born of a whim, a whim that perhaps had started in the recess of his mind with the talk of war between the two nations. He had not meant it to become an anti-war campaign, or receive the response it did from Israel as well as from Iran. Yet it was this whim that touched the core of humanity, that broke borders built up by history and political differences, a whim that sought to remind us that no matter where we come from, our hearts beat as one.
At iPakistan, a unique initiative by university students to 'rebrand' our country, the Israel-Iran 'We <3 you' story was not just a source of inspiration, it was a trigger to take action. Despite having fought four wars, we Pakistanis and Indians have so much in common that our political differences pale in comparison. Thus the idea of 'Romancing The Border' was born. Its aims include cross-border cultural interaction, a better understanding of the other country and highlighting peace efforts in the region. The campaign has gained a wildfire-like momentum. Within weeks, responses started pouring in from Indian and Pakistanis alike. The campaign poster itself reached out and struck a nerve, that too, with backdrop of two Indian and Pakistani friends and a few, simple words;
We Look The Same. Eat the same. Speak the same. Play the same. Why do we hate each other again? :S
According to Priyah from Delhi, "When I think of Pakistan, I think of things like my friends who are Pakistani, the food, Nazia Hassan or TV shows like Dhoop Kinare and Humsafar. However I was quite shocked to hear some of the things that people say about Pakistan in India, mainly very negative stereotypical views on the neighbouring country (I don't mean that everyone in India shares these views but many do). This probably has to do with the fact that they've grown up in an environment which does not do much to break stereotypes or to reduce the rivalry between India and Pakistan".
Aqsa from Pakistan muses, "I cannot make anyone stop hating anyone, I am only trying to suggest what I believe is a better option. And I am all for the kind of patriotism which talks of culture, art, a philosophy of love, beauty in variance.... but I'd never cheer for the kind of patriotism which makes one's blood boil and mouth froth swear words, the kind which teaches you to hate and continue hating for centuries to follow."
Disha from Mumbai adds, "A lot has been said about India and Pakistan, and I think everyone is aware of all the problems going on. All I really want to say is: the only time both countries should be opposing each other... ought to be on the Cricket Field!"
We have existed for almost 65 years as separate homelands. We have fought four wars. Our past has left us bitter. Our future seems uncertain. We cannot undo our past but because we can act in our present we can control our future. Let us step up and avoid the bitterness that once was and should by now be long gone. Let us remember what we share as a people. Lest we forget where we came from, before our hearts let go forever of our shared humanity, let us come together and romance the border.
Tomorrow we will love life.
When tomorrow comes, life will be something to adore
just as it is, ordinary, or tricky
grey, or colourful...stripped of judgement day and purgatory...
and if joy is a necessity
let it be
light on the heart and the back
Once embittered by joy, twice shy
The writer is a medical student at Dow University, Karachi,
She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
An online video about Sikhs looking after a mosque built by his ancestors inspires
the writer to re-connect with his past across the border
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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