On New Year, the 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar launched in Lahore
Lahore, 1 Jan 2017
The was the first day of the year 2017 well started by voicing for peace from Lahore where people from all walks of life gathered together and echoed peace at the launch ceremony of Aaghaz-e-Dosti peace calendar.
At a time when once again, India and Pakistan seems distant with each other on talks, school students from both sides came forward to express their desire to foster peace and friendship. These paintings have deep expressions of what a student thinks. Most of these paintings have expressions of flying beyond borders and meeting each other, shaking hands that shows how strongly young minds from both sides think about peace.
Indo-Pak Peace Calendar was launched in Lahore today by Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint Indo-Pak Friendship initiative that runs dozens of chapters in India and Pakistan through network of youths that also, who work for peace building voluntary. A discussion on ‘Sharing of Hopes’ was also organized where various visions and suggestions for peace building was discussed with guest speakers Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed (Political Scientist), Dr Salima Hashmi (Artist, Educationist; Daughter of legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz) and Imtiaz Alam (Secretary General – SAFMA). Discussion was moderated by popular poet and RJ Afzal Saahir.
This was 5th peace calendar of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and it got tremendous participation. From Pakistan, AeD received paintings from Balochistan, Karachi, Lahore, Rahim Yar Khan and Toba Tek Singh district. From India, AeD received paintings from Anupshehr (UP), Cuttack (Orissa), Dehradun (Uttarakhand), Delhi, Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), Kolkata (West Bengal), Lucknow (UP), Mumbai (Maharashtra), Surat (Gujarat) and Vadodara (Gujarat). This year, Aaghaz-e-Dosti received messages from Dr. Salima Hashmi (Pakistani Artist, Educationalist and daughter of legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz), Lt Gen (Retired) Muhammad Masood Aslam, I.A. Rahman (Recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding), Khadim Hussain (Director of Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation, Pakistan), Sudheendra Kulkarni (Chairperson of Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai), Dr. Syeda Hameed (former member of the Planning Commission of India and a Padma Shree laureate), Capt (Retd) Virendra Sahai Verma (Co-founder of India Pakistan Soldiers’ Initiative for Peace from India), Maj Gen (Retd) Ashok K Mehta (Former Major General of the Indian Army and Defense Analyst), Dr. Kavita A. Sharma is the President of South Asian University, Dr. Shashi Tharoor (Member of Parliament (MP) in Lok Sabha and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, India), Dr. Mubashir Hassan (Former Finance Minister in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Government) and Dr. Saeed Ahmed Rid (Assistant Professor, National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan).
A young student who was among audience said that he would like to participate in coming year as he wish to contribute for peace. While asking if he know how other side of border is, he said that though he never went India, he knows that people there are same and he thinks that there should be more easiness in meeting of people from both sides.
As, Aaghaz-e-Dosti also connects classroom of India and Pakistan and provide an opportunity to students from both sides to interact via video conferencing, one student of Lahore who had been part of one such session of Aaghaz-e-Dosti was also present and shared her experience. She recalled that how beautiful it was when students from both sides sang songs together. She said that she had invited all students of Indian side to come Pakistan on Eid and that that she also got invited by many students from that side. ‘We sincerely wish and desire to visit and talk each other’, she said.
Raza Khan, who coordinates activities of Aaghaz-e-Dosti in Lahore says that with the ground team of Aaghaz-e-Dosti has spread through more than 15 chapters in India and Pakistan and 3 international chapters, mostly led by young women peace activists. Along with many other ground activities that includes Aman Chaupals, Peace Workshops, Discussions, Letters and Greeting card exchange, Classroom to Classroom connect and others, Aaghaz-e-Dosti is continuously working towards peace building on people to people level and has provided peace education to more than 6000 students till now through these alternative ways of peace education. For its efforts, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has been recognized by various awards. He informed that Peace calendar will be launched in Peshawar and Toba Tek Singh on 8 January and in Delhi on 14th January and Chandigarh on 30th January. The Calendar is also scheduled to be launched in Kolkata, Panipat (India), Karachi (Pakistan), in USA and Kyrgyz Republic.