India, Pakistan: Build on goodwill, not hate

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

I wrote this for The News on Sunday’s Jan 11, 2015 issue:

Build on goodwill, not hate

In the wake of escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, people on both sides of the border continue to express solidarity through peace initiatives

In an unprecedented and heart-warming gesture from India to Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Modi requested schools in his country to observe a two-minute silence to commemorate the children and teachers killed in the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014.

In another unprecedented, spontaneous show of solidarity, Indians began tweeting with the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan, started by Indian columnist Tehseen Poonawala who tweets from the handle @tehseenp. …  [Read more]


Mumbai and more

Photo: courtesy Soumik Kar

Photo: courtesy Soumik Kar

On the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks of Nov 26, 2008, a NATO air strike in Pakistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. NATO says its helicopters were providing air cover to troops on the ground chasing insurgents; Pakistan says that the strike was a deliberate violation of its sovereignty (the question is, why?). The loss of human lives in any circumstances is tragic; sincere condolences to the families of the soldiers killed. Coming on the heels of ‘memogate’, this is not going to help US-Pakistan relations. Let’s hope that the political leadership is not swayed by the hysteria deliberately being whipped up by certain sections (as usual).

The Mumbai attacks lasted nearly three traumatic days and claimed over 160 precious lives, injured hundreds of others and emotionally scarred countless others. At that time, I wrote a couple of reports for IPS, Empathy, Grief in Pakistan at Mumbai Mayhem and Pleas For Sanity as Sabres Rattle Over Mumbai Mayhem. Continue reading

Mumbai journalists visit Pakistan: a sign of hope; a warm welcome but no cellphone roaming


Below, my comment in The News about the forthcoming visit of Indian journalists to Pakistan (The News also carried this report on their visit based on their press statement). As I wrote earlier, just one of these journalists has ever visited Pakistan before. A CORRECTION to my comment below: the Mumbaikars who formed the human chain on Dec 12, 2008 numbered not in the ‘hundreds’  but thousands. “Nearly 60,000 people including several celebrities… formed a 50 km long ‘human chain for peace’,” according to this report in The Indian Express (I found it after filing my story). One of the people behind this event, organised by ‘Mumbai for Peace’, was the journalist Jatin Desai, spokesman for the current delegation to Pakistan.

Situationer: Mumbai journalists’ visit: yet another sign of hope

 By Beena Sarwar

 The journalists from Mumbai landing in Karachi on Monday will arrive to a warm welcome – and no cell phone roaming. India and Pakistan both deny this facility that millions today take for granted, to each other, as foreign correspondents, businesspeople and others who travel in the region know all too well. Continue reading

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