All for a Bhagat Singh library in Pakistan
Shreya Roy Chowdhury
Lyallpur, now Faisalabad, in Pakistan, was the birthplace of Bhagat Singh. A three-member delegation from the city was in India to visit Dhudhike a village in Moga district of Indian Punjab, where Lala Lajpat Rai was born. Chaudhary Zafar Iqbal, Azhar Mehmood of Duniya TV and social activist, Tahir Iqbal, are members of Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), a civil society group formed in 1994. They, with their Indian counterparts, scholar Tapan Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor Chaman Lal, participated in an interaction at JNU on the status of India-Pakistan peace process last week.
PIPFPD members are civilians fighting for peace between the two countries. In small groups, they've met, travelled to the other side, organized workshops and when political conditions permitted, held large conventions.
"We're not fighting against you. Come there. You'll get the feel of your land, the atmosphere of your own home. Ek hi log hai, bhai," says Zafar Iqbal, president, PIPFPD. We could also try for basic neighbourly amicability. "If you don't have sugar here, take from there. If tomatoes are scarce there, we could take from here," he adds. PIPFPD members are trying to establish a Bhagat Singh library at Lyallpur and professor Lal handed over posters and books published in India for that and the university.
But global politics complicate things. Of the Afghan situation, Zafar Iqbal says, "Those people have been ill-treated, exploited. We should've tried to understand and help them." Inability to do that, he says, has exacerbated the situation but Pakistan has tried to do its bit: "We've stopped them at the front line or they'll disturb you."
Much depends on changing attitudes says Tapan Bose. "1947 was birth of Pakistan, a matter of pride. But Partition was a tragedy for India, as if an illegitimate country was born. Pakistan is a nation-state as is India. That is the reality we must accept," he says. "We need to think seriously, realistically about terrorism," and get away from "over-dependence on arms, intelligence and security".
"There should be no break in civil society movement. There should be exchange programmes with students," says Iqbal, women and child rights activist. Both Mehmood and Iqbal felt that peace was not impossible. "If Europe can do it after centuries of war, why can't we?" He offered to help JNU Phd student Sanchita Bhattacharya, studying madrasas in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh whose application of a visa to Pakistan was rejected. "We want students to come," he said.
Bhattacharya says she wanted to hear "those working in the peace process and see the other side of the story." "I have never seen or met any Pakistani before. I wanted to know what they had to say," says Munni Bharatee, a M.A. final year Hindi student.
Writer and social activist, Noor Zaheer, also at the discussion said, "It's importrant to know what people thing at different levels. I meet writers mostly and here there were others. I wanted to know what they think, feel about bilateral relations."
Courtesy: Times of India
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