13th Aman Chaupal: Pakistani Youth Activists interact with students from Bangalore
In Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 13th Aman Chaupal, video conferencing was used to conduct an interaction between youth activists from Pakistan and Indian students with the aim to counter stereotypes and misconceptions. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an Indo-Pak Friendship initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC. Aaghaz-e-Dosti has conducted 13 aman chaupals or Indo-Pak peace sessions wherein someone from Pakistan interacts with students in India (or vice versa).
In this session, youth activists and Pakistan team of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, Aliya Harir (Convener of Aaghaz-e-Dosti from Pakistan) and Syed Zeeshan Ali Shah, had interacted with about 50 students and faculty members from Prakriya Green Wisdom School of Bangalore who were on an educational trip in Delhi. The educational trip, organised by renowned Heritage Artist Vikram Kalra, was to cover places in North-Indian states especially Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Wagah border. The trip aimed at giving students a better understanding and multiple perspectives of historical events. Aman Chaupal was organised to give the students a perspective of Pakistan from the Pakistanis themselves.
The questions centered around cultural similarities between India and Pakistan, culture of Pakistan, language and politics.
In this session, unlike in all other sessions, the students were more interested to know how different were their counterparts in Pakistan who were almost of the same age. The students asked about their favorite books, their interest in sports, music and movies.
A student had asked the youth activists from Pakistan about the culture of Pakistan. To which, they narrated that Pakistan is very culturally diverse. There are different provinces in Pakistan and each province has a different culture. Punjab province shares cultural similarity with the Indian side of Punjab. Similarly, Sindh is very diverse. Within Sindh, there is a lot of diversity. There is a cultural similarity between the culture of Sindh and the culture of Rajasthan and Gujarat. She also mentioned that Karachi has a very cosmopolitan culture. There are also several South Indian restaurants in Karachi.
Another important exchange in this session was around language. The students were curious about the Urdu language. They learnt that the spoken Hindi in India and spoken Urdu in Pakistan is almost the same. The Indian students had also taught them a few words in Kannada and Tamil language.
One student had asked about terrorism in Pakistan. Aliya Harir had responded that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and that the government and the army are doing their best to tackle it.
As this session happened at the terrible time for Pakistan with the Peshawar School attack, the students had also expressed their condolences to the victims and their families.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti team for this session consisted of Ravi Nitesh, Devika Mittal and Madhavi Bansal.