Research finds that majority of Indian and Pakistani youth desires peace; want a more responsible media

by Jan Sher Khan

An Independent research undertaken by Jan Sher Khan who is an M.Phil Media student at University of Central Punjab, Lahore undertook a research on the opinion of Indians and Pakistanis on cross-border peace, its potential, challenges and on social media as a tool for peace journalism. Following is the report of the research.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 18 : Spectators pose for a photograph during the ICC Champions Trophy final match between India and Pakistan at the Kia Oval cricket ground on June 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

After almost 75 years of independence, Pakistan and India are still at bars when it comes to peace building. The hostile and mistrust relations between the political and military of both countries causes an impact on peace building process between common people. The media works as a spokesperson to the peace or war policy set by the state institutions. There are many independent platforms who are working for peace between the two countries mostly run by youth. The large part of population in both countries comprises of youth. Both countries invests a large share of their GDP on defense due to hostile relations and obviously because of Kashmir issue, the prime reason. Both countries own nuclear weapons which is threatening for the peace of the entire region. We the people of sub-continent cannot afford war because it will push us to back age. Peace is the only option we have now but media in both countries trying their best to manipulate youth minds for the establishment of state agenda. The independent peace building has many restrictions on state level because it will harm their agenda of concern. So, the independent peace builders left with only one source and that is social media. Social media is independent source of interaction and sharing information. Through social media we can have true representation of other side free of any filters and agenda.

In order to understand how the youth in India and Pakistan perceive cross-border peacebuilding, a survey study is conducted in which young population between 14 to 29 age from both India and Pakistan participated. A series of closed ended questions presented to them which they answered. They were being asked about what they think about youth capability of changing hate narrative, the peace process between two countries, the social media importance in this regard and various questions related to this. Following are few results:

Table no 1.0: Youth Capability of changing hate narrative between two countries
ResponsesPakistani   Indian   
 Male Female Male Female 
 Number%Number%Number%Number%
Yes2492%1482%21100%1275%
No14%00%00%16%
Maybe14%318%00%319%
Total26100%17100%21100%16100%

The above table clearly shows that 92% of Pakistani males and 82% Pakistanis females think that youth is capable of changing hate narrative while 100% of Indian males and 75% Indian females think they are capable of doing that.

Table no 2.0: Indo-Pak peace necessity for regional peace
ResponsesPakistani Indian 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes4093%3595%
No12%00%
Maybe25%25%
Total43100%37100%

Table 2.0 shows 93% Pakistanis and 95% Indians think Indo-Pak peace is necessary for the integrity of whole South Asian region. This table clearly highlights the youth mentality regarding importance of peace in these two countries.

Table no 3.0: Peace Building Platforms importance in voiding misconceptions
ResponsesPakistani Indian 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes3172%2670%
No614%25%
Maybe614%924%
Total43100%37100%

Table 3.0 shows 72% of Pakistanis and 70% of Indians think peace building platforms can help in voiding misconceptions which prevails among the people of both countries. Only 5% Indians and 14% Pakistanis negates the importance peace building platforms.

Table no 4.0: Social media as a source of Peace building
ResponsesPakistani Indian 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes3684%2876%
No25%13%
Maybe512%822%
Total43100%37100%

Table 4.0 shows that 84% of Pakistanis and 76% of Indians think social can be used as a source of peace building between two nations. Only 5% Pakistanis and 3% of Indians said no to social media importance regarding peace building while other remains neutral.

Table no 5.0: Negligence of mainstream media interests in peace building
ResponsesMale Female 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes3268%2061%
No613%00%
Maybe919%1339%
Total47100%33100%

Table 5.0 shows that 68% of males of both India and Pakistan think that the mainstream media in both countries have no interests in peace building. On the other hand 61% females came in favor of the statement that mainstream media disinterested in peace building process of India and Pakistan. A large female proportion of 39% remained neutral on this.

Table no 6.0: Government restrictions in people to people interaction
ResponsesPakistani Indian 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes3479%2568%
No37%38%
Maybe614%924%
Total43100%37100%

Table 6.0 shows that 79% of Pakistanis and 68% of Indians think that Government in their respective countries impose restrictions in people to people interaction. Only 7% Pakistanis and 8% Indians negates it while 14% Pakistanis and 37% Indians remained neutral.

Table no 7.0: Peace Building is difficult in both countries
ResponsesPakistani Indian 
 NumberPercentage %NumberPercentage %
Yes2149%1438%
No1637%1746%
Maybe614%616%
Total43100%37100%

Table no 7.0 shows interesting results as 49% of Pakistanis and 38% of Indians think that peace building is a difficult process in both countries. A majority of Indians which is 46% negates this statement and think peace building is not difficult while 37% Pakistanis also second this.

Table no 8.0: Social media is the only source left for peace builders
ResponsesNumberPercentage %
Yes2430%
No4455%
Maybe1215%
Total80100%

Table no 8.0 shows that 55% of Indians and Pakistanis think that social media is not the only source left for the peace builders while 30% think that the social media is the only source left for the peace building. The other 15% remained neutral.

Table no 9.0: Justification of labelling Peace builders as traitors
ResponsesNumberPercentage %
Yes1620%
No4759%
Maybe1721%
Total80100%

Table 9.0 shows that 59% of Indians and Pakistanis think it is not justified to label peace makers or builders of both countries as traitors. Only 20% said that it is justified while only 21% respondents remained neutral on this.

Table no 10: Peace Building between the two countries is a long process
ResponsesNumberPercentage %
Yes5974%
No1418%
Maybe79%
Total80100%

Table no 10 shows that the 74% of Indians and Pakistanis think that the peace building is a long process in India and Pakistan whereas 18% denied this statement. Only 9% remained neutral on this stance.

Table no 11: Issues of Common man are same in both countries
ResponsesNumber%
Yes6885%
No45%
Maybe810%
Total80100%

Table no 11 shows that the 85% of respondents from both countries think that the issues of common man are same in India and Pakistan.  5% denied this while only 10% remained neutral to this point.

From the above findings we can say that the youth in both countries knows the importance of peace in their respective nations. They knows how government becomes barrier among people to people interaction and how this peace process become complex. The youth of both countries have clear thoughts when it comes to integrity of whole region which relies on Indo-Pak peace. Peace building is difficult in these countries but the issues of public are of same interests which can help them to coordinate with each other for better understanding and opportunities. Social media can emerge as source of peace building with its uninterrupted dimensions and independent interaction policies. Peace builders can play an important role in this regard because they know how to face criticism due to their peaceful nature which may cause problem to trouble makers in the both countries. There are high hopes that youth of both countries have capability of voiding these misconceptions through peace building and interaction with each other.

Jan Sher Khan is a Pakistan-based M.Phil student, peace activist and a researcher on social issues.

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