Eradicating polio: one last push

jafarihamid20_db_photo_jpg_autocroppedMy oped for The News International, Pakistan, published March 29, 2016

Polio-free Pakistan: one last push

Beena Sarwar

“Not since the eradication of smallpox in 1980 has the world had a chance to wipe out an incurable, but preventable, human disease, “ says Dr Hamid Jafari, former director of the World Health Organization’s Global Polio Eradication Department. Continue reading

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Lift the goodwill: Indians, Pakistanis find creative ways to protest hate, violence, bigotry

Dunkin' Donuts sign in Islamabad with the Pakistani and Indian flags: peace meals

Dunkin’ Donuts sign in Islamabad with the Pakistani and Indian flags: peace meals

The right-wing Shiv Sena’s recent vigilante actions targeting Pakistani musicians, sportspeople, and diplomats in Mumbai have led to embarrassment and widespread condemnation in India, and of course to the right-wing in Pakistan gleefully pointing fingers at India.

There have also been compassionate and creative responses from Pakistanis, who have all too often suffered the poison of bigotry and injection of religion into politics.  After a Pakistani family had to spend the night on the footpath in Mumbai because they lacked the requisite papers (Form C) allowing them to stay in a hotel, Pakistani entrepreneur Iqbal Latif responded by offering free meals to Indians visiting Pakistan at his Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. His gesture was widely reported and drew a massive response in India.

A friend in India points out that the hyped up anti-Pakistan protests are a predictable forerunner to the upcoming state elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that are critical for the ruling coalition in particular. That may well be the case, but meanwhile, Indians are also finding ways to creatively and peacefully express their distaste for bigotry and hooliganism. After the Sena successful blocked respected Pakistani musician Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai, one Indian made a painting that he tweeted:  Continue reading

Call for short films: “Pakistan: How To Make A Better Future?”

Eqbal Ahmad video contest Pakistan better futureCalling all filmmakers: video contest organized by the Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education: Produce and submit 8-minute videos on the theme: “Pakistan: How To Make A Better Future?” Details at this link (text below). Also check out these 8-min videos – impressive compilation.

The competition seeks to raise awareness and encourage activism on important social issues, and encourage the use of new media in Pakistan.

Submissions for 2014 may deal with any of the following:

  1. Citizenship: What are the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen of Pakistan?
  2. Minority Rights: Issues of Pakistan’s religious and ethnic minorities.
  3. Terrorism: Why is Pakistan afflicted and what’s to be done?
  4. Continue reading

Jan 1 rallies across Pakistan in solidarity with victims of extremism; demanding a coherent Foreign Policy, empowered Local Government

Aman Ittehad rally, Hyderabad, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad , a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals around Pakistan has been commemorating Jan 1 every year with rallies around the country, in solidarity with victims of terrorism and to demand better governance, democracy and economic policies. Here’s the press statement for this year’s rallies, being held in dozens of cities including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places.

PRESS STATEMENT  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

Quenching the thirst for peace

Tracing a peace sign together via a giant web-cam

Tracing a peace sign together via a giant web-cam

Here’s something I wrote about how a soft drink giant creatively connected Indians and Pakistanis with ‘the other side’, with a three-minute video that was easily the most shared link on the Aman ki Asha facebook group last week (not that it’s going to get me to start drinking Coke, or any other soda); published in the Aman ki Asha page in The News, May 22, 2013

Quenching the thirst for peace

An innovative idea connects Indians and Pakistanis with ‘the other side’

“It saddens me that we have neighbours that we can’t even go visit.”

“The perception is that they’re the bad guy. But when you actually meet them you realise they’re just like me.” Continue reading

No, we won’t lay down our weapons…

Aziz Siddiqui_2When Nawaz Sharif was trying to impose his so-called Sharia Law in Pakistan during his last stint as Prime Minister in the late 1990s, I voiced my despair at this dangerous move to the respected journalist Aziz Siddiqui, who was co-director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Siddiqui sahib heard me out. He paused and removed the pipe from his mouth, then replied in his gentle way, with a half smile, “Phir kya karein, hathyar Dal deiN?” (So what shall we do, shall we lay down our weapons?). Continue reading

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