An Indian’s New Year Wish: The Return of Pakistani friend and Activist Raza Khan
by Shruti Achesh
This article has been written for Raza Khan, a peace activist and also convener (Pakistan) of Aaghaz-e-Dosti who went missing from Lahore since December 2. People from across the globe have been demonstrating support for him and have started a #FindRaza campaign.
Today is the 2nd of January 2018. The new year didn’t come to me with any new news or I’d rather say ‘any good news’.
It’s been an entire one month since Raza Bhai went missing from his place in Lahore. ‘Bhai’, yes, ‘Brother’ that’s what I call him, as he is one to me and a very dear one too. He is a brother from a different mother, a different land, a different religion, but same values. Like most of us (who have known Raza), I too have no clue of his whereabouts. He went missing from his flat in Lahore on 2nd December 2017 and since then we’ve been just praying every day for his safe and immediate return.
Why is he so important to me..? Why am I so affected by him been missing? And even if I am, then why am I writing it here? These were the questions that I asked myself before typing these words into this article and, here’s what I got… There’s no big pain other than seeing your loved one missing from your life. A person who you look up to, a person who’s been a very special influence on your being, a person who was with you when you were going through a difficult time of your life, a person who heard you for hours and hours without even asking a single question, just to help you vent out your grief because you needed someone to hear it out.. And that’s not enough… There are more reasons for me to write this piece. I am writing this for him, I am writing this for others to know him, I am writing this for the world to know the kind of person Raza is and that he cannot think of harming anyone even in his dreams. Yes, I want to tell everyone that his disappearance is affecting me and others who love him. It’s affecting humanity, it’s coming in the way of his dream of making the world a better and a more humane place. Yes, that’s why I am writing it!
My hands are trembling to write these words here and I have tears in my eyes right now… I am just not able to express the grief that has afflicted on all of us because of him not being here with us for this one whole month. I never imagined how life’s going to be without Raza Bhai.
It will be more astonishing for all of you to know that I am from India and I have never met Raza in person but, I have known him. I have known him to the extent that I can vouch for his honesty, his love for his country, for his people and his determination for Indo-Pak Friendship.
Why? I ask, Why? Why is he missing? How can a person like him do any harm to anyone? He, who worked for the welfare of his country, his people.. how can be a threat? He who wanted peace with the neighbor so that there can be peace in his country, how can he go missing? I completely fail to understand this… I don’t get why after so much pleading and begging to the authorities, after repeated protests, press conferences, social media campaigns and even court hearings, we have no information about his whereabouts. Is this a new year we are celebrating or expected to celebrate?
We, all, his family, friends remain in deep shock even a month later. What are we to do? How do we make sense of this, of our own lives, of our future? A life full of disappointments, of grief, of people fearing to participate in peace activities..? Because that’s what we can see happening. It’s disheartening to see all this. What is his fault, what is our fault?
After many requests that we have already put forward, I put one here too.
‘Please find my dear Raza Bhai. We cannot live without him. His love for humanity is incomparable. His work for Indo-Pak Peace is calling him again and again. He is a peace lover and a peace educator. He is the kind of human we all want in our society. He is an inspiration for us and for many others who know him and his work. Please find him. The world needs him.’
Shruti (Achesh) Arora is a theatre educator. She is a team member and regional coordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.