Remembering Kuldip Nayar, journalist, activist, peacemonger

Kuldip, Nandita, Asma J

A precious photo: Kuldip Nayar, Nandita Das and Asma Jahangir at Wagah border. Photo: courtesy Seema Mustafa, The Citizen

I was sad to hear about the passing away of veteran journalist and peacemonger Kuldip Nayar, 95, in Delhi. His passing in general evoked great sadness — as well as a resolve to keep working for his values — not only in India but the land of his birth, Pakistan. I had got to know Kuldip ji over the years through the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) that I joined as a young journalist from Lahore when it was launched in 1994-95, as the largest people-to-people organization between the two countries. The last time I met him was at Allahabad train station a few years ago. The lawyer S.M.A. Kazmi and our family friend Zia ul Haq — the comrade, not the general, himself now over 90 were dropping me off and picking him up. He got the surprise of his life. We didn’t have much time to chat as my train was about to leave but I treasure that memory.

Sharing here the two pieces I put together for Aman Ki Asha (hope for peace), the India-Pakistan website I edit. One is pegged on a tribute from Dr Syeda Hameed in Delhi his long-time friend and fellow-activist, former member of the Planning Commission of India and founder trustee of the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation. She aptly termed him the “gentle giant of India Pakistan peace” in her wonderful piece in The Citizen. See also her account of the Aman Dost Yatra (peace and friendship march) at the border. In the other piece, I put together other tributes paid to him by Pakistanis.

Here are links to both pieces: Remembering the ‘gentle giant of India Pakistan peace’,  and Pakistanis pay tribute to Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar.

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(L-R) Dr Syeda Hameed, Navaid Hamid, Kuldip Nayar, Maulana Syed Jalauddin Umari. File photo – Indiatomorrow.ne.

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Who is Raza Khan, why is he missing, and why do I care?

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Lahore, Dec. 11: Protesting the disappearance of activist Raza Mahmood Khan. (Rahat Dar/European Pressphoto Agency/EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On Dec 2, 2017, a peace activist disappeared from Lahore. Raza Khan is one of over 1,400 missing persons in Pakistan whose cases the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances is hearing.

Who is Raza Khan, why is he missing and why do I care? Raza Khan’s disappearance, like that of Zeenat Shehzadi earlier, is part of a new phase of such illegal abductions in Pakistan, violating due process and rule of law. Targeting young people from ordinary backgrounds, without social capital or networks, signals a growing desperation to control the narrative on the military, religion and India. My piece,  In Pakistan, promoting peace with India can be bad for your health — and freedom, published in The Washington Post, Dec. 22.  Continue reading

Mahesh Bhatt’s “Milne Do” – II

A year ago, I wrote about Mahesh Bhatt’s new theatrical project a play titled ‘Milne Do’ aiming to find common ground between India and Pakistan. Here’s an update: He’s going ahead with it in collaboration with Azad Theatre and Laal band in Lahore. My article published in Aman ki Asha below:

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Imran Zahid and Mahesh Bhatt: teamwork for a causMahesh Bhatt, in an attempt to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play titled “Milne Do”.

The veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, in an attempt to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play titled “Milne Do”.

“I have always maintained that a movie or a play can be a greater vehicle of peace than all the lectures we give,” he says. Any message, if communicated through storytelling, touches a chord. We are also trying to do the same. This play will be an emotional transaction between industries on both sides.”

This cross-border collaborative project across borders has been in the making for over a year. Continue reading

India/Pakistan: #DearNeighbour – a new ‘velfie’ movement

A ‘velfie’ movement is sweeping social media as Indians and Pakistanis share video messages for peace as part of the ‪#‎DearNeighbour‬ Peace Challenge. But are the politicians listening? The organisers invite people to send their Peace Velfies to: dearneighbourmovement@gmail.com and/or upload it to the fb page DearNeighbour Movement and nominate two friends to take the challenge. Here’s the piece I wrote about it for Aman ki Asha. Text below.

Continue reading

India/Pakistan: Asha ki Kiran

Tea with the lovely Nandita Das in Mumbai

Tea with the lovely Nandita Das in Mumbai

Found to be inoperable in Bangalore, young Kiran Soomro won over scores of hearts and has returned to Pakistan with a priceless gift of love – and homemade Singhar mithai. My article published in Aman ki Asha and TOI blogs today

On January 20, 2014, her seventeenth birthday, Kiran Soomro flew from Karachi to Bangalore on with her parents. They left with hope in their hearts and a prayer on their lips, expecting that Dr. Devi Shetty at the Narayana Health hospital would be able to surgically close the hole in Kiran’s heart.

Five days later, they learnt that her condition is inoperable by now. It would have been a fairly simple operation had it been looked into and treated earlier. Doctors initially discussed a heart-and-lung transplant. Dr. Balakrishnan, a well-known surgeon from Chennai drove down on his own initiative to examine Kiran in Bangalore. Continue reading

Play for peace: Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Milne Do’

Mahesh Bhatt-Imran Zahid play

Mahesh Bhatt’s forthcoming play is creating a media buzz

My article in the Aman ki Asha page of The News, Dec 4, and in the TOI blog

Play for peace: Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Milne Do’

A behind-the-scenes look at what is driving a veteran film producer and peace activist’s fourth stage production, coming up

By Beena Sarwar

It was Google’s “Reunion” ad released on the web that pushed Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid to move on an idea that he has been thinking about for some time, creating waves in the media.

Last week Imran messaged me, asking for story ideas for a stage play “to promote Aman ki asha and the concept of ‘Milne do’ (let them meet) to be staged in various cities of India and Pakistan in association with Mahesh Bhatt Saab”. Continue reading

Eye Opener: An Indian-American Visits Pakistan


Nice share on the Aman ki Asha facebook group:
Eye Opener: An Indian-American Visits Pakistan – by Mahanth S. Joishy, Editor of usindiamonitor.com – extract: “…But even these problems can be overcome by bringing Pakistan deeper into the community of nations, and further integrating Pakistan into world markets.  India and the United States for their part can do more to help bring this about.  I am convinced that instead of the delicate dance the three nations have done around each other since 1947, it is time for all to become closer friends and drop the pretexts for moving backward instead of forward.  What I saw in Pakistan more than the perils, is great potential. I plan to do my part, and this piece is only the first step.”

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