Can Literature Join What’s Divided by War?

by Zahra Akbar (Pakistan)

Indian and Pakistani Entertainment Industries have always kept the people of both countries connected.  Where Pakistani dramas have found appreciation from their Indian audience, Indian TV Serials and Films also have lots of fans in Pakistan. Art and literature are universal and can help people see the best in each other. Despite the tension between the both countries, people of Pakistan and India are often seen willing to connect with each other.

In 2016, a Pakistani literary forum Daastan, joined hands with a Global literary platform The Ancient Souls (TAS) to help Indian writers make their dreams of getting published come true. The Stories Untold is a writing competition Daastan introduced in Pakistan. Its second season was themed ‘A War Within’, and it inspired many Pakistani and Indian writers to express themselves freely and create masterpieces.

‘A War Within’ was introduced to help writers face their inner barriers and make the best out of their passion for literature. Many Pakistani and Indian writers submitted their works in this competition, and according to Daastan’s tradition, top 30 finalists and winners got published on Qissa – a digital publishing platform created by Daastan.

Where mainstream media thrives on controversy and sensationalism, even if it ends up thwarting all the efforts being made for peace between Pakistan and India, platforms like Daastan and The Ancient Souls have shown that nothing says ‘peace’ better than doing things together.

Many Indian and Pakistani writers face the same struggle today; the lack of publishers who are open to aspiring writers. Getting published and having their voices heard are dreams of all such writers. Daastan wants every talented writer to achieve this goal, and that’s why it introduced ‘Qissa’, a digital self-publishing platform that’s the first of its kind in Pakistan. By bringing offline literary industry online, Qissa is helping many writers turn their dreams of getting published every day without charging them anything. “The Stories Untold Season 2 – A War Within” helped not even Pakistani but some Indian writers get published, not just within Pakistan but in India too. Indian writers started opting for Qissa to give an uplift to their careers.

Writers like Abhirun Daas, Ahsan Raza Bhaskarjyoti Paul, Neeraj Brahmankar, Suchitra Shetty, and Zena Vatsa were the first batch of Indian authors to get published through Daastan.

Abhirun Das is the Co-founder of TAS, and his short story ‘Across the Line’ was in the Top 2 finalists  in ‘A War Within’.

Zena Vatsa; Co-founder TAS, is another Indian writer and to join Daastan to self-publish her work. She is an England-based Indian writer and published her book ‘Her Great Escapade’ through Daastan in May 2017. Her book was in the TOP 15 finalists of Stories Untold Season 2.

Poignance of the Soul” by Bhaskar Paul secured 3rd position in the competition. However, Neeraj Brahmankar, a boy from a small town, through his biography; “An Abandoned Leaf” became the voice of many mute survivors and stood 6th in the competition.

Ahsan Raza and Suchitra Shetty through their captivating stories; “The Crown has Fallen and The Cascade of Lifemade it to the Top 30.

This venture, The Ancient Souls and Daastan embarked on together is inviting us to look at things with a new perspective. Should we offer more opportunities to the people of Pakistan and India to indulge in such activities together so they can overcome the war within that’s creating an unnecessary tension between these two countries?

Daastan is a literary forum that is empowering writers by helping them self-publish both digitally and print form. To get in touch with Daastan, inbox at or send a message on Daastan’s facebook page

To self-publish your work digitally, or to read many great books by other authors, sign up at

Zahra Akbar is a literary activist and writer from Pakistan. She is a literary graduate currently working with Daastan as a social media manager.


About aaghazedosti

Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative

Posted on July 11, 2017, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Aaghaz e dosti continues to demonstrate an exceedingly intelligent and integrated approach to the problems of ‘othering’ that political agendas have caused. Shabaash! Music, literature, all of our common arts, demonstrate our common heart!


Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: