“Focus, and spread the message of peace to all” – Nandita Das | Thousands worldwide to Pray for Peace between India and Pakistan on Dec 18

By Beena Sarwar

From Indian actor Nandita Das in Mumbai, to peace groups and individuals all over India and Pakistan, and in countries as far away as Korea, Australia, Canada and America, thousands are supporting Pray for Peace Between India and Pakistan Day on Sunday, Dec 18, 2011.

Inspired by the idea of the power of collective prayer or meditation, Toronto-based Swati Sharan randomly picked the date several months ago. “These prayers can be done from anywhere on the globe by any one, of any nationality… the more people pray for something at a given time, the greater the difference it can make,” she wrote in an initial article in May explaining the idea, Continue reading

Aman ki Asha pages featuring Mumbai journalists’ Pakistan visit

Here are PDFs of two recent Aman ki Asha pages that I tried to email to the Mumbai journalists who visited Pakistan recently, as the pages feature their responses. Since the second PDF file was for some reason too large to email, I’m posting both of them here. Click these links for the PDFs:

Aman ki Asha page, Dec 8, 2011

Aman ki Asha page, Nov 30, 2011

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea anyway. Maybe I should upload more of these pages. The content is all available on the Aman ki Asha website anyway, but there you can’t see the great layouts the designers have been doing. Continue reading

Indian pilot’s daughter writes a deeply touching reply to Pakistani pilot who shot her father’s plane down

Qais Hussain with his damaged aircraft during the 1965 war.

Thanks to Naveed Riaz in Lahore for the email that formed the basis of my report on Qais Hussain’s condolence note to Farida Singh, daughter of the Indian pilot whose plane he shot down during the 1965 war. Here’s another note Mr Riaz just sent to his email list: 

This profoundly humane episode continues to move ahead with Indian and Pakistani news channels and media bringing it increasingly to the fore today after Beena Sarwar in Karachi broke the story in Pakistan’s leading daily The News (Aman ki Asha).

Mrs Farida Singh, daughter of the deceased pilot of the Indian plane Jahangir “Jangoo” Engineer replied today to Qais’s letter of condolence four days earlier – see below (NDTV’s coverage this evening at this link). Beena’s article and Qais’s condolence letter here) Continue reading

After 46 yrs, the healing touch: Pak pilot says sorry for mistake

NOTE: Qais Hussain has clarified that he did not ‘apologise’ for what he did. His note was a letter of condolence and an attempt to set the record straight. He has written to Indian Express with this clarification

Front page report in The Indian Express Aug 10, 2011: After 46 yrs, the healing touch: Pak pilot says sorry for mistake (also would have been nice if they’d credited me or Aman ki Asha). Excerpts:  Continue reading

Governor Rajasthan delays Dr Chishty’s release

Unable to walk on his own anymore, Dr Chishty is carried to court in Ajmer. Photo: Times of India

DR CHISHTY CASE UPDATE

Beena Sarwar

June 21: The expected release of an elderly Pakistani academic imprisoned in India for nearly two decades was delayed as the Governor of Rajasthan raised further queries instead of signing the mercy petition recommended to him by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan – flouting the constitutional provision that requires the Governor to act upon the advice of the Chief Minister, making his signature a mere formality. Continue reading

Pakistan2020 report; Aman Ki Asha wins int’l awards; Dorothy freed

Global recognition for Aman ki Asha: Times of India CEO Ravi Dhariwal (right) and Shahrukh Hasan, Group Managing Director Jang Group, with outgoing INMA President Michael Phelps, CEO of the Washington Examiner

Posted to my yahoogroup earlier today:

My NY trip was very brief and hectic, but rewarding. Great to catch up with some friends and apologies to those I couldn’t contact or meet. I attended two very interesting events: the launch of Hassan Abbas‘ report ‘A Vision for Building a Better Future, and the INMA awards ceremony where Aman ki Asha won two awards, including the top award of the evening. My report in The News.

DOROTHY PARVAZ: It was great to hear that Iran has released Dorothy Parvaz and she is safe, and free – but rightly concerned about the people she was held in detention with, many of whom were badly beaten, as she told Al Jazeera in Doha.

PAKISTAN 2020 report – a much needed ‘broader’ look at Pakistan beyond the security prism, Continue reading

Dr Chishty incarceration: details from his daughter Amna Chishty

Photo of Dr Chishty taken in 2007 when his daughter was able to visit him

16th April 2011

Details of my father’s case:

Before I go into his case a brief background of my father:

He is almost 80 years old. He received his PhD from University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1968 in Public Health Virology. He had an illustrious career as a professor and head of department of virology and microbiology at Karachi University. In the late 80’s he retired from his last job as the Director of Public Health at King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. He is a principled man who is well‐read, well bred and well traveled. He worked hard to raise a family of six children – one son (oldest, with engineering diploma), five daughters (one is a doctor, one is a Pharmacologist, two are graduates and myself an MBA in marketing). He educated us and built a house for us in Karachi and supported his younger brother in India as well. After retirement he wanted to live in that house in Karachi and enjoy his retirement with his family and his grandchildren.

The following events led to his current plight: Continue reading

Days of Hope and Challenge: Understanding the Middle East and South/Central Asia

Noam Chomsky giving his talk at the event

Below, text of my talk at Boston University, April 14, 2011, organised by American Friends Service Committee, that United for Justice with Peace helped publicise, as a fundraiser for AFSC. (I didn’t read out the paper but it was useful to organise my thoughts; Chomsky focused on the Middle East)

Boston, April 14, 2011

Beena Sarwar

Days of Hope and Challenge: Understanding the Middle East and South/Central Asia Continue reading

Dr Chishty’s imprisonment: his daughter Amna’s update

Received an email this morning from Amna Chishty in Canada, copied to various people working to secure the release of her father, the aged Pakistani professor Dr Khalil Chishty, a prisoner in India for over 19 years, currently in Ajmer Prison hospital (report in The Hindu April 15, editorial in The News on April 13). She expresses her family’s gratitude for the continued efforts to help Dr Chishty and bring his case to the forefront and stresses the following points that need to be highlighted in the media:
Continue reading

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Confessions of a tweet addict

My column Personal Political in Hardnews, India, written a couple of weeks ago. Was too caught up in event on the ground and forgot to post it. Still relevant.

Beena Sarwar

I admit it. I’m addicted to twitter.

Like many others, the first time I heard about this ‘social networking tool’, my initial response was, “What’s the point?”

It was in spring 2006, at the end of a journalism fellowship in the USA. “Try it,” urged Jeb Sharp, a radio journalist. “It’s cool. You can update friends about what you’re thinking or doing and you have to do it in 140 characters or less.”

Out of curiosity, I made myself a twitter account. The whole thing seemed a bit silly. The twitter icon is a little blue bird. The messages you post are called ‘tweets’. It all sounds very fluffy and twittery. And why create a twitter account if you have facebook? Continue reading

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