The ‘Bulbul-e-Kashmir’ sings for Indo-Pak peace

This personal blog post is dedicated to an inspiring couple in Mumbai and to the editor who introduced us: May our tribe increase.

Enduring ties: Seema Sehgal at PIPFPD, Karachi, 2003, with me and my daughter Maha. Photo by Ved Bhasin.

I met Seema Sehgal in Karachi, in December 2003 at the 6th Joint Convention of the Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). Ved Bhasin, the respected Editor of The Kashmir Times, Jammu, introduced us. “Seema,” he said, “is known as the Bulbul-e-Kashmir (Nightingale of Kashmir).”

Ved Bhasin: Shukriya

The petite and unassuming Mumbai-based ghazal singer from Jammu has none of the airs one might expect from a performer of her calibre. She is not only an amazing artist, but she also has a deep and abiding interest in Urdu poetry and in Indo-Pak peace. When relations plummeted between the two countries following the nuclear tests of May 1998, Seema dedicated her new album ‘Sarhad’ to peace between the India and Pakistan. Continue reading

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

Thoughts on media, Mumbai, ‘terrorism’

The violence in Karachi today has overshadowed what happened in Mumbai yesterday. More on that later. Meanwhile, here’s a comment I posted to my facebook page (relevant to Karachi situation too?): Salam Mumbai. Hope the damage is contained. And – I understand the addiction to ‘breaking’ news, but wish we could do it differently. If there was no live TV, would terrorists put up such shows? …Death toll as reported this morning is 21. Even one is too much. I keep thinking of Sahir Ludhianvi’s universally relevant and humanitarian poem, ‘khoon apna ho ya paraya ho, Nasle aadam ka khoon hai aakhir…’ Here’s a response from Rakesh Sharma, a prominent documentary filmmaker from Mumbai: Continue reading

Indian and Pakistani Citizens Condemn Serial Blasts in Mumbai

Press Release: Indian and Pakistan Citizens Condemn Serial Blasts in Mumbai

We the citizens of India and Pakistan strongly condemn the inhuman and dastardly serial blasts in Mumbai on 13th July 2011 in which 21 innocent people were killed and over 140 injured. We offer our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families and pray for quick and complete recovery of all those injured.

It is clear that these blasts are a well orchestrated heinous conspiracy to derail the resumption of the dialogue and peace process between India and Pakistan that was stalled following the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. Continue reading

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