“WE NEED TO STOP SOMEWHERE”: Aman Chaupal organised at Rainbow School with Kiran Nazish
Aaghaz-e-Dosti (An initiative for Indo-Pak friendship, started by Mission Bhartiyam) organized its Fourth Aman Chaupal today on 11 September 2013 at Rainbow English Sr. Sec. School in Delhi (India). Aman Chaupal is an informal session wherein people from Pakistan or who have been to Pakistan share their experiences and address students’ curiosities and questions. This is the fourth Aman Chaupal. The first and the second were done with peace activist from Pakistan Saeeda Diep. The third was with author and journalist Raza Rumi.
In this Aman Chaupal, Kiran Nazish was the guest. She is a journalist-activist. Her works appear in reputed newspapers like Dawn, Express Tribune, Friday times, Tehelka, Forbes, Huffington Post and several others.
The session began with stating the objective and importance of the session. “It is to bridge the communication gap that guides Indo-Pak relations and that gives way to stereotypes and mutual hatred and suspicion. It is to show the other side of Pakistan that the Indian media never shows”, remarked Devika Mittal, convenor of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
After a warm welcome with flowers, Kiran Nazish had addressed about 100 students from classes 10th-12th. Atleast, the barrier of language was destroyed, the questions and response could be in either Hindi/Urdu or English. The first question was on the issue of Kashmir. This was followed by questions on the recent clash, killing of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani army the case of Sarabjit Singh and the “un-cooperative” attitude of Pakistan Government.
“While Pakistan had killed Sarabjit, the Indian Government had treated the Pakistani terrorist as a guest. While soldiers have been mercilessly killed on the borders, the Indian Government did not responded back. When the Prime Minister of India was in Pakistan for friendship, Kargil was announced.”, argued a student.
This had earned a lot of cheer from the crowd. The reason for the cheer indicated the popular sentiment. Kiran Nazish responded to this by pointing out the factual errors caused by the bias in the Indian media, their failure to show the other side of the story. She also talked about the need for peace, the need to “stop somewhere”.
She talked about the sentiments that we attach to the soldier. She talked about the innocent life lost because of the presence of “black sheeps” on both sides of the border.
There were also questions on the status of religious minorities and women. “Are people free to go to temples?” was a question on the status of religious minorities. Kiran Nazish remarked that there are many temples and churches in Pakistan. They also celebrate Diwali and Holi. There are constitutional provisions that seek to safeguard the religious minorities. They are free to practice their religion. There is a quota for minorities in the educational institutions.
Are women free? Is the purdah system rigid? She answered that there is freedom. Women have access to equal opportunity. The purdah system is not rigid. It is generally for the conservative families.
While there were several questions on political and controversial issues which were a clear reflection of the media portrayal of Pakistan, when the students were asked if they would like to go to Pakistan, many hands shot in air. A student had also raised the desire and need for a cultural-exchange programme.
The principal spoke about the need to forget the past, bridge the differences and bring peace and prosperity. She talked about the importance of youth in this endeavour. She remarked, “Pehle hum ek the, mann bhi ek tha, aman bhi tha par ye ashanti Kaha se aa gai? Kaise hum shaanti laaye? Kaise hum phir se ek ho sake? Aap aane wale kal ki dharohar hai. Aap bachche chahe toh hindustan ko bhi ucha utha sakte hai, jo Pakistan ko bhi acha bana sakte hai, pure vishwa ko acha bana sakte hai. Aap umeedein hai, aashayein hai.”
The programme ended with a gesture of hope, a warm hug by the principal to Kiran Nazish.
Madhulika Narasimhan, the co-ordinator of Aman Chaupal, had concluded the session by talking about the need for a rational perspective on the issues. She suggested that besides the Indian reporting of a news, there is also a need to look at the Pakistani reporting of the same news.