India/Pakistan: Thought leaders try to build a bridge to peace

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Just a few of the hundreds putting their weight behind the resolution. Collage by Farhan Ahmed

Without expecting overnight transformation, over 500 eminent signatories from both countries are hoping to create a ripple effect that changes how citizens and governments view each other. My piece in The Wire about the recent citizens’ resolution that urges South Asian giants India and Pakistan “to take all steps possible towards improving relations” and aims to counter the prevailing atmosphere of hostility between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. 

Chomsky

Chomsky: Happy to endorse this “excellent statement”

Can the endorsements from significant, leading thinkers create a ripple effect of a “pebble thrown in a pond”, as one political leader hoped? The fact that he did not publicly endorse the statement while supporting it privately speaks to the reluctance of mainstream politicians to take positions perceived as unpopular in the public realm. Going against the tide created by political rhetoric and media hype requires courage, given the risk of being pilloried as a ‘traitor’.

Kishwar Naheed

Kishwar Naheed: Appeal to writers to sign on

But the 900 plus endorsements garnered in days by a loose coalition of activists and journalists – peacemongers – after the resolution was circulated privately shows that many are willing to take that risk. The signatories’ list, updated daily online by volunteers at various websites including Aman ki Asha, includes many who are not the ‘usual suspects’ – top ranking retired military personnel, parliamentarians and diplomats. In fact, the endorsements read like a who’s who of intellectuals, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers, historians, physicians, businesspeople, economists and students in the region and beyond… Read more  

India Pakistan people’s peace resolution in mainstream media

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik - Raksha Bandhan piece at Puri beach- Odisha

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s piece for Raksha Bandhan at Puri beach, Odisha, with a message urging India and Pakistan to “Stop Bullets, Be Friends” (file photo, 2015)

Nice to see the mainstream media take note of this privately shared resolution urging India, Pakistan to resolve tensions through dialogue. Some pretty big names on board – check the updated list at the Aman ki Asha website at the end. Over 100 people endorsed it today, bringing the number to over 350 in just 48 hours.

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Nandita Das. Photo by Marjolein

Why This Powerful Message From Indo-Pak Peaceniks Matters During Our Troubled Times – HuffPo

Indians, Pakistanis Ask Governments to Set Up ‘Uninterruptible’ Bilateral Dialogue: The Wire

Over 250 prominent Indians, Pakistanis sign powerful message for peace: Express Tribune

Indians and Pakistanis finally raise a mutual voice for peace: Hato Bacho

Thought Leaders from Pakistan and India call for uninterrupted, uninterruptible dialogue: Daily Times

Citizens of India and Pakistan Call for Peace: The Citizen

Indo-Pak civil society calls for uninterrupted talks: Dawn

India-Pakistan people’s peace resolution: Throwing a pebble in the pond: Aman ki Asha

India-Pakistan people’s peace resolution: Throwing a pebble in the pond

Shubha_Mudgal

Music legend Shubha Mudgal

A valiant effort by concerned citizens of India and Pakistan to stem the tide of hatred, bigotry and violence, posted on the Aman ki Asha website that I edit on May 7, 2017 with 250 endorsements. (Update: over 900). To endorse, please comment with your name, profession/ designation and location.

Peacemongers call for India, Pakistan to resolve differences through dialogue

With tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan on the rise, some concerned citizens from India and Pakistan have come together to formulate a statement expressing their deep concern at “the current rise in animosity and antagonism between India and Pakistan”. The resolution urges “both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations”. Continue reading

Salute to a stellar actor and courageous humanist: Farewell Om Puri (October 18, 1950 – Jan. 6, 2017)

I’m not a great film follower but this is something I felt compelled to write yesterday. Published in the Aman ki Asha website and crossposted here.

Farewell Om Puri (October 18, 1950 – January 6, 2017)

Om Puri: Principled stand for peace

The legendary Indian actor leaves a legacy of humanistic and compassionate values and peace aspirations

Legendary actor Om Puri’s untimely death has saddened film and peace lovers not only in India but in Pakistan and around the world. Like his long-time friends and colleagues Naseeruddin Shah and Mahesh Bhatt, and younger colleague Nandita Das, he had a special relationship with Pakistan due to his desire for better relations between the two largest countries of South Asia. Continue reading

As tensions rise between India and Pakistan, we remember a friend who called for peace

Sharing a piece I wrote with Dr. Partha Banerjee about our friend Haider “jigar”Rizvi, published by PRI on October 28, 2016, a year after he died in Lahore. Reproduced here with photos that we weren’t able to get to PRI in time.

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Haider Rizvi celebrating life and love at Ghizar District, Gilgit, 2015. Photo by Qamar Abbas.

Last year around this time, we were saddened by the death of our poet and journalist friend Haider Rizvi in Lahore, Pakistan, on Oct 29, 2015. Haider had lived in New York, and was for many years a correspondent for the Inter Press Service (IPS), based at the United Nations.

With Haider’s untimely passing, we lost someone who loved to make friends irrespective of religion, color or caste — someone who believed firmly in peace.
Continue reading

Activists support peace defenders in Pakistan, denounce false allegations

MEDIA STATEMENT
Activists support peace defenders in Pakistan, denounce false allegations

LONDON, Oct. 30: Some two dozen activists from Pakistan working in the fields of media, peace, culture, development and politics, USA, Canada and U.K. met in central London to discuss India-Pakistan relations and reaffirm the need for peace between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours. They reiterated the vision of Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah that relations between the two countries should be like those of Canada and the United States.

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Group photo of some of the peace activists after the meeting in London.

Continue reading

Finding lost heritage: Pakistan’s Sikh legacy

My Personal Political column in Himal Southasian, Aug 3, 2016, published also in Aman ki Asha and TOI blogs, posted here with additional links and visuals.

Author Amardeep Singh shares a story from his travelogue. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Author Amardeep Singh shares a story from his travelogue. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Finding lost heritage

“If you could visit any place in Pakistan, where would you go?” asks Amardeep Singh whenever he gives a talk to introduce his recently published travelogue Lost Heritage – The Sikh Legacy In Pakistan.

The question, aimed primarily at Sikh members of the audience, invariably elicits two answers: Sikh holy places. Their ancestral village.

It was the same in Boston on June 18, 2016 at the E-5 Center where Amardeep Singh gave his 42nd such talk. He understands the response all too well. After all, he too once had the same “myopic” reasons, as he says, for wanting to go to Pakistan, which he considers his “homeland”, being the land of his ancestors and also where Sikhdom’s holiest sites are located, like Nankana Sahib, birthplace of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. Continue reading

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