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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It all comes together: Kashmir Day, banned organisations, and a warped narrative

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

It all comes together. When the Sindh government agreed on Tuesday to the demands of the citizens observing a sit-in for over 30 hours in protest against the Shikarpur blast, probably everyone forgot about Kashmir Solidarity Day. It has been observed annually in Pakistan every February 5 since 1991 when the Nawaz Sharif government during its first stint in power demarcated it as a national holiday. Continue reading

India, Pakistan: Moving on the right track

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik's image of India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ” Peace gets a chance’.

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik’s image of India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ” Peace gets a chance’.

I don’t have any great expectations from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Delhi for PM designate Modi’s inauguration but it’s good that he’s going (despite all the pressures) and that contact is being initiated. Hopefully this contact will lead to steps being taken to implement agreements that have already been signed (re: trade, travel) that are in limbo. In that spirit, a re-plug for the Aman ki Asha petition against visa restrictions. Please sign and share if you haven’t already. Also, a very positive step ahead of the Modi-Sharif meeting is that, as a goodwill gesture, Pakistan has ordered the release of over 150 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, from Pakistani prisons. And for the first time, they are also releasing fishing boats. This is the first time in years that any side has decided to release fishing boats – kudos to Pakistan for taking the lead in this direction.

PIPFPD welcomes fishermen’s release, participation of Sharif in Modi’s swearing in ceremony

Modi’s invitation to Nawaz Sharif – a welcome move: Justice Markandey Katju Continue reading

India, personally…

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Update: See ‘A half-full glass‘ on the Singh-Sharif meeting at UNGA (and the ‘dehati aurat’ brouhaha), published in the Aman ki Asha page in The News on Oct 2, and in my column at TOI blogs.

This is a long-pending post, compiling articles, video and photo links (below) following my recent, brief trip to India at a time when tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) were running high. The Programme for Social Action (PSA) and the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) had invited me to a seminar on Aug 13, where they launched two publications. (I took the direct Karachi-Delhi PIA flight both ways, which has since then been discontinued — apparently not enough traffic because it’s so difficult to get visas; credit where credit is due – PIA is the only Southasian airline to fly to all the regional capitals and more).

Continue reading

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

People for peace: 8th PIPFPD Joint Convention, Allahabad

PIPFPD 7th Joint Convention, New Delhi 2005: Pakistani ghazal queen Farida Khanum with then Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran at a reception at Hyderabad House. Photo: Beena Sarwar

My curtain raiser on the Eighth Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) Joint Convention being held in Allahabad, India, Dec 29, 2011-Jan 1, 2012 (slightly shorter version published as an op-ed in The News). When the name was being decided, the Indians insisted that Pakistan should Continue reading

CONVERSATIONS-4: It’s about time

Published in The News on Sunday Aman ki Asha page, Political Economy section, on March 14, 2010

Conversations 4: It’s about time

Dilip D’Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their correspondence, attempting to share thoughts honestly, without fear and hostility, exploring what divides our countries, and seeking ways to bridge the divide

March 11, 2010

Dear Beena,

Again, so much to address! But since I asked what annoys you about Indians, and since you answered so frankly, let me make that the theme for this installment of our exchange, and in two ways.

First, your beef is with “the hard-nosed nationalism and sense of superiority of many Indians, the refusal to introspect and see flaws within their own society.” Personally, I’m bothered too by this reluctance to see flaws, by the sense of almost manifest destiny and even entitlement that a lot of us Indians nurse. Continue reading

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