Category Archives: Events

On Global Dignity Day, Indian and Pakistani students bond over similarities, learn to celebrate difference

The 12th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect of Aaghaz-e-Dosti had connected students of Beaconhouse School System, Middle-I Gulshan branch, Karachi (Pakistan) and Gujarat Public School, Vadodara, Gujarat (India). The virtual interaction happened on the occasion of Global Dignity Day.

Ms Amber Sajid, teacher co-ordinator from Beaconhouse School (Karachi) stated that they chose this event for Global Dignity Day as the day is about instilling love and respect for everyone, irrespective of any difference. It is the day which seeks to build consciousness about one’s identity as a human above all other identities. They wanted to use this day to bridge the gap between Indians and Pakistanis by dispelling stereotypes, making the students aware that Indians and Pakistanis have many similarities and to also learn to respect any difference which is there. It is important that students learn to respect and celebrate difference, diversity. 

The discussion was focused around culture. Since it was the week of Diwali, a major festival in India, students from Pakistan asked about it. They inquired about the story behind Diwali, it’s importance and how it is celebrated. Ms Abhilasha Agarwal, head of Gujarat Public School, shared that the students were very curious to know about Diwali. They wanted to know how do we greet each other on Diwali. 

The discussion as also around other Indian festivals, dance forms and customs. The students from Gujarat told them at length about the Gujarati culture and several other cultures of India. Some of the students had worn traditional attires representing the different cultures in India. They also showed them a plate with different types of snacks from India. Some students had also presented Garba and Mohini Attam dance form of India. 

A Pakistani student expressed her interest to know about rangoli which she had seen in Indian series. The Indian students, in turn, asked about Sindh, its food and culture. 

The schools plan to have several such sessions. They find these sessions helpful to inculcate pride in their their own culture as well as respect for other cultures. 

This report has been made by Devika Mittal and Raza Khan. To contact us, email at aaghazedosti@gmail.com

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Surat, Gujarat India meets Lahore, Pakistan: Second IndoPak Open Mic

Pakistanis and Indians got a chance to come together virtually as the Aaghaz-e-Dosti organised the 2nd virtual cross-border open mic with Aaghaz-e-dosti Surat, Gujrat team and Aaghaz-e-dosti team Lahore. Open mic was held at Lowkey Lokai, a space that brings together people & community to dialogue and debate issues that are critical for building a peaceful society.

The basic objective of the open mic was an interactive session among Pakistanis and Indians through which art, music and culture could be promoted. Both sides have a notion about the people of other side as strangers and others. Aaghaz-e-dosti has an aim to abolish this ‘otherness’.

Kevin West and Ahsan Aslam from Qaid the band of Lahore initiated the event by singing an Indian song Qurban Hua and Saiyyoun Nee by Junoon Band. Qaid band had outstanding vocals and voice.

The event got pace with a dance performance by Hammad rasheeed, a choreographer and a Kathak dancer also teach at LGS. Hammad has performed more than 100 times in India and Pakistan during the span of last 3 years. He has also choreographed for Pakistan Television, Ajoka Theatre and many other organizations. Hammad did Kathak dance on Raag Bhagraiwaan and Khamaj by Shafqat Ali. This performance fascinated the setting.

As event got rhythm, performances from both the sides were presented turn-by-turn. Mark Xavier, engineering student sang sufi song. Following the Sufi music Joshua Dilawar, a social activist and student of journalism sang Gulabi Ankhain and Taaray Zameen Per. Mohsin, a student of Gender Studies Department, Punjab University did mimickery and both sides were echoing with laughers.

Saddam Hussain from Lahore came up with amazing flute and caught everyone’s attention. Mobeen Ahmad, student of Philosophy from Lahore was another person with flute gave his best.

Zeeshan Sarwar, ended the show by singing a song of peace. Fayyaz, a chemical engineer and member of Aaghaz-e-dosti delivered a poem of his own demanding for peace, humanity and harmony.

Participants appreciated the campaign and this Open Mic event. They were very keen to be invited in such upcoming events of Aaghaz-e-Dosti to promote Peace and tolerance. Participants emphasize that both Governments should replace this conflict and tussle with Peace and harmony. Visa process should be easier, so that people may visit across the border easily one of the participants said that.

The Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint initiative of Mission Bhartiyam (India) and Hum Sab Aik Hain (Pakistan), aims to eradicate mutual hatred and suspicion to create unwavering bonds of peace and friendship. They believe that miscommunication and lack of communication has helped sustain the conflict. To meet objective, the Aaghaz-e-Dosti has taken several initiatives ranging from interactive sessions in schools to public demonstrations, from art-based initiatives to writing articles and issuing statements to disseminate the misrepresented voice across the border.

Hum Sab Aik Hain represents Aaghaz-e-Dosti Pakistan; an organization formed by a group of young people based in Lahore. The objective of this organization is to promote peace and harmony among the masses by highlighting, advocating and organizing towards discourses and movements to bring about socio-political and the economic changes required for a peaceful society.

On Hiroshima Day, Aaghaz-e-Dosti organised “Chiraagh-e-Aman Jalao” at River Raavi, Lahore

Aaghaz-e-Dosti Lahore chapter organized ‘Chiraagh-e-Aman Jalao’ on 6th August 2017. Aaghaz-e-dosti believes in peace and harmony in South Asian Region and the whole world, collectively. Mainly there are two reasons why Chiraagh-e-aman Jalao was organized. Firstly, in August 2017, Pakistan and India are going to be 70 years old and still the two neighboring countries are living in conflict.

Even after 70 years of birth, Pakistan and India needs to resolve all the contemporary conflicts including border conflict. We are gathering at river Ravi, which symbolize that future of India and Pakistan must flow together like waves of river and with the virtue to serve humanity. 

We gathered on 6th August as 6th and 9th August 1945 has been one of the darkest days in world’s history when during the final stage of World War II, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history. We hope that despite being nuclear empowered nations, India and Pakistan will take all steps to resolve their conflicts and to provide future generation a better region that will be free from any kind of violence, hatred, conflict and war. Our future must grow together. 

This, Chiraagh-e-Aman was a very tiny memorial for all violence and hatred provoking incidents resulting in numerous victims. Aaghaz-e-dosti calls on all actors to regurgitate the significant responsibility of the States in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. AED also stresses the importance of peace and humanity. AED urges all actors to increase their inputs for sustaining peace.

Aaghaz-e-dosti demands both Pakistani and Indian State to back the treaty banning nuclear weapons. It’s been more than seven decades when the world has witnessed the macro destruction due to nuclear weapons, now it is the time to learn from the her-story. Both nations need and dreams for the freedom from poverty. We demand for a welfare state instead of a security state. People are still deprived from pure drinking water, health facilities, food, shelter etc. Both countries need to relax visa policy and increase trade, religious tourism, cultural exchange etc. For emphasizing on this AED called the both nations to join to lit the lamp, a lamp of hope, harmony and humanity.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti (lit. beginning of Friendship) aims to eradicate mutual hatred and suspicion to create unwavering bonds of peace and friendship. This is because we believe that miscommunication and lack of communication has helped sustain the conflict.  To meet our objective, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has taken several initiatives ranging from interactive sessions in schools to public demonstrations, from art-based initiatives to writing articles and issuing statements to disseminate the misrepresented voice across the border. 

Aaghaz-e-Dosti seeks to enhance people-to-people relations. It seeks to become the medium to discover and recognize the misrepresented reality on the other side of the border. Aaghaz-e-Dosti was started in 2012 by Mission Bhartiyam, an India-based youth organisation. It has collaborated with several organisations in the past but from May 2017, Aaghaz-e-Dosti became a joint initiative of Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based “Hum Sab Aik Hain”.

‘Hum Sab Aik Hain’ is an organization formed by a group of young people based in Lahore. The objective of this organization is to promote peace and harmony among the masses by highlighting, advocating and organizing towards discourses and movements to bring about Socio-Political and Economic changes required for a peaceful society.

First Indo-Pak Open Mic: Delhi meets Lahore

Pakistanis and Indians got a chance to come together virtually as the Aaghaz-e-Dosti organised the first virtual cross-border open mic with Vijay Kumar and friends of Ideal Youth Health & Welfare Society of Delhi.

Sadaam Hussain and Umair Ali played flute, Zeeshan Sarwar, Allen Earl-West and Haroon Hashmi sung as well. Session ended with the sufi performance the Qade Band. Youth from both the sides participated in open mic virtual event through internet video call from Delhi and Lahore.

The basic objective of the open mic was an interactive session among Pakistanis and Indians through which art, music and culture could be promoted. Saad Hafeez and Hassan from Qade Band of Lahore initiated the event by singing an Indian song Teri Deewani with outstanding vocals and voice.

The event got pace with another song Allah hi dyga, Mola hi dyga. While Vijay Kumar from Delhi side along with children sang a folk song in Bohjpuri language. As event got rhythm, performances from both the sides were presented turn by turn. Kevin and Sam from Lahore gave instrumental piece Anokha Laadla, John from Delhi sang Tu na jany aas pas hy khuda.

Saddam Hussain from Lahore came up with amazing flute and played marr jaon ya ji lon zaraa and Lambi judai. Vijay Kumar did a special group performance with drum. Allen with classical singing training made another contribution in event with classical songs.

Umair Ali from Lahore was another person with flute gave his best. From Delhi, it was requested to sing a classical song of Ghulam Ali, and Allen make a stunning performance with Chupky chupky raat din. Nazr mein rhety ho jb tum nazr nahen aty, a famous song was sung by Zeeshan Sarwar from Lahore.

Question and Answer Session

Neha, a 12 years old girl from Delhi asked from Lahore team Do Muslims in Pakistan go to Mandirs as Hindus visits Dargah and Mosques. People from Pak side responded, Yes, we have two famous Mmandirs in Lahore and we do visit, moreover we celebrated HOLI with our Hindu friends and community this year.

Neha was asked by Lahore team that when will she visit Lahore She replied When You people will send me visa. Lahore team asked from children of Delhi about their favourite Singer from Pakistan. They replied, Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. During the event  signature campaign for Peace Now and Forever  was also in process.

Participants appreciated the campaign and this Open Mic event. They were very keen to be invited in such upcoming events of Aaghaz-e-Dosti to promote  Peace and tolerance. Participants said that emphasize that both Govt should replace this conflict and tussle  with  Peace and harmony.

Visa process should be easier , so that people may visit across the border easily one of the participants said that. At the end a poem Ao mil kr hum sb sath chlen was presented by Fayyaz from Lahore. After that Delhi Team gave their last group performance.

Give me sun shine and Saad Hafeez from Lahore concluded this event with his mind blowing performance which made every body mesmerized. Tery Ishq mein jo bhi doob gaya and ‘Laal meri Ptt rakhiyou bhla. This is how a beautiful evening ended, Participants said Good bye to each other till next virtual or real meeting.

The Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint initiative of Mission Bhartiyam (India) and Hum Sab Aik Hain (Pakistan), aims to eradicate mutual hatred and suspicion to create unwavering bonds of peace and friendship. They believe that miscommunication and lack of communication has helped sustain the conflict. To meet objective, the Aaghaz-e-Dosti has taken several initiatives ranging from interactive sessions in schools to public demonstrations, from art-based initiatives to writing articles and issuing statements to disseminate the misrepresented voice across the border.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti Pakistan is represented by Hum Sab Aik Hain is an organisation formed by a group of young people based in Lahore. The objective of this organisation is to promote peace and harmony among the masses by highlighting, advocating and organising towards discourses and movements to bring about socio-political and the economic changes required for a peaceful society.

Based in Delhi, Ideal Youth Health & Welfare Society founder Vijay Kumar is a certified trainer of Play for Peace and he works with the marginalised youths including Dalits and school dropouts. The Ideal Youth Health & Welfare Society is a civil rights based organisation, working with marginalised community children and young adults in Delhi.

Report by Muhammad Fayyaz and Atiqa Shahid

Apply Now: Peace Internship Program

Peace Internship Program

With the objective to increase the peace tribe, Aaghaz-e-Dosti launches peace internships. The Peace Internship Program is a four-week internship program (can be extended) which while being specialized in a specific field – writing, research, video editing and designing, will inculcate an understanding of peace and conflict in context of the Indo-Pak issue. The internship will equip you to understand conflict, and contribute to peace between India and Pakistan.

The Peace Internship Program has been designed keeping in mind the voluntary nature and the time constraints that may bound an individual. The program is home-based and easily doable but does require hardwork. An intern will have to devote about 10 hours in a week.

Since this is a non-funded initiative, we will not be able to offer any monetary remuneration. However, the interns will receive a certificate on the completion of the internship program.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti is offering four types of internship. While an applicant can apply for more than one, he/she will be accepted only for one.

Writing Interns

Work

Writing Interns will be given a maximum of 4 different writing assignments which may include movie review, article, poem and fiction story. Feedback will be provided on the writing style, analysis and understanding of the conflict.

Eligibility

  • Good command over written English
  • Prior knowledge of writing skills
  • Ability to analyse issues
  • Able to meet deadlines and complete one assignment (writing and incorporation of feedback) in a week’s time

To apply, please send a writing sample along with your CV and statement of interest.

Research Interns

Work: This will be done in a group. A group of 4 people will work on a particular issue that informs the Indo-Pak Conflict. The team will divide the work and will be involved in compiling, analyzing and documenting data. The objective of the research team will be to understand the issue from different perspectives.

Data collection will involve finding and reading existing works, collecting data through survey and interview method.

The team will write a joint report. Besides the report, they can also explore creative, alternative methods to present the findings.

Eligibility: Any previous experience in research will be preferred. To apply, please send your CV and statement of interest.

Video Interns

Interns will make video on particular issue, in collaboration with research team or independent. This will involve video making and editing work.

Eligibility: Some experience in video making/editing is mandatory. Please share any previous work along with your CV and statement of interest.

Design Interns – photo editing and designing of posters (content will be given).

Eligibility: Some experience in designing and photo editing is mandatory. Please share any previous work along with your CV and statement of interest.

The first peace internship will start from 20th June (tentative date). Please do not apply if you will not be able to commit one month (10 hours a week) for this program. 

Deadline to Apply: 15 June 2017

To apply, please email with the above-stated documents to aaghazedosti@gmail.com

Indian and Pakistani Students showcase Dance Performances over Skype

Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a citizen diplomacy group, conducts peace education activities in schools and colleges in India and Pakistan. Among these peace education activities is the Indo-Pak Classroom Connect program which connects two classrooms through video conferencing and initiates an informal dialogue between the students. The session facilitates them to know each other, explore the everyday life, culture and to bond over the similarities and learn from the uniqueness. This session helps to dispel the popular stereotypes that restricts people to people contact and peacebuilding.

Indo-Pak classroom connect sessions have witnessed students bonding over similar food culture, singing songs together, reciting peace poems, celebrating birthday of a student by cutting a cake on both sides and the 9th Indo-Pak Classroom connect added another gem to this program.

In the 9th Indo-Pak Classroom connect that had connected students of Gujarat Public School (Vadodara, Gujarat, India) and SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls’ School (Karachi, Pakistan), students did dance performances for each other. The Karachi students showcased a Sindhi dance form and also danced on a popular folk song “Lathe ki Chadar”. The Gujarati students from India did a garba.

This report is based on inputs from Ms. Abhilasha Agrawal, Director of Gujarat Public School

You can see the video here:

If you want your school to participate in this “Indo-Pak Classroom Connect” program, please write to us at aaghazedosti@gmail.com 

Love, Talk, Chat, and Dialogue could be a beginning: 10th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect

“Is it true what they show on Indian dramas about children going for parties alone? Do you go for birthday parties alone?” a student from Pakistan asked his counter parts in India. The question was interesting. The Indian friend in response confirmed that this teenage trend in India is in fact true.

These dialogues were being exchanged at an Indo-Pak Class Room Connect by Aaghaz-e-Dosti. Questioning and challenging the stringent borders, the online people to people interaction was conducted by Aaghaz-e-Dosti on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

The session was coordinated by Raza Khan, Coordinator Lahore Chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. On the other side of the border were Tulika Bathija, teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School, and Chintan Girish Modi of Friendships Across Borders – Aao Dosti Karen.

Prior to the session, young people from both sides of the border prepared a list of questions with the guidance of their teachers and moderators. The students had received advanced guidance on framing meaningful, constructive and open-ended question allowing the other person to think, reflect and respond in a sensitive manner. The students and teachers braved power failure, technical glitches and managed to communicate their message of peace, love, and people to people contact.

This is how the grade 8 students of Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai finally met their friends from Ghouri Wisdom School, Lahore on Skype. Exactly a year ago on March 27, 2016 when the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park targeting the Christian community of Pakistan on Easter, the students (then in Grade 7) has sent had written letters of solidarity and friendship to students of Ghouri Wisdom School sharing their pain and extending a hand of friendship.

In return, at the end of the year and past the pain the grief, the students from Ghouri Wisdom sent colorful, Christmas cards to their friends in India wishing them best and offering their gratitude for offering solidarity.

The Skype talk was an extension to a long lasting friendship forged between children of Mumbai and Lahore. Indian students from Mumbai, true to their spirit sang a Bollywood song, ‘Meri Laundry ka Ek Bill.’ In the background, of course many songs were practiced and rehearsed for the entertainment of Pakistani children.

Questions were asked related to tourism, hobbies, cricket, and ban on Pakistani artists in Bollywood extending to topics of significance to both countries – child safety and gender equality. It was fascinating to see children of different backgrounds across the border bond with each other on issues that mattered to them as teenagers.

As educators, we reflected on these questions, their sincerity, and the compelling nature of inquiry. Is it possible that children think of their public safety in ways we cannot understand? Can Indian and Pakistani children create a safe bubble for themselves in which they can express to each other their anxieties, fears, apprehensions, their joy and giggle over stuff that is mundane and trivial to the disconnected adult? If yes, then this could be the beginning.

When we were unable to find signal and hear each other’s voices, Indian students showed them a sign ‘Wherever you are, we will support you.’ This thoughtful gesture was reciprocated with claps, with excited hand waving and big, bright smiles. What transpired in two microcosms across the border is messages that if India and Pakistan really want they can find ways to connect, love, talk, chat and start a dialogue by overcoming obstacles.

Report by Tulika Bathija and compiled to be published by Aliya Harir and Devika Mittal.  

“They do not resemble the stereotypes we were taught”: 11th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect

indopak classroom connect by aaghaz e dosti

When Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 11th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect, brought together students of National School and College of Modern Sciences (Mandi Faizabad, Nankana Sahib in Punjab, the birth place of Guru Nanak) and Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai, we found ourselves struggling with the same old questions.

With deep fissures of distrust between two neighbors in conflict, it only takes discussions around bollywood, TV shows, food, visa issues, festivals, cricket, Urdu-Hindi, and social media (for people on both sides of the border) to move through the connecting back process. These discussions not only help heal divides, give the people common grounds, but also serve as platforms enabling “people” to come back together as friends, when “governments” are uncertain and unwilling. This all too much of discussion required of us skype connection on both sides.

The session was organized and coordinated by Raza Khan, Lahore Chapter Head of Aaghaz-e-Dosti on April 4, 2017 who travelled from Lahore to Nankana Sahib struggling with limited ground resources. Aroon Arthur and Farooq Ishraq facilitated in putting the event together. The other side was being facilitated by Tulika Bathija, educator and teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai.

17858117_1413304648692025_1229879787_nThe students from India sang ‘Channa Mereya’ from the Bollywood movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Pakistani children discussed about all kinds of Indian TV shows and films that they have watched: Salman and Tiger Shroff being their hot favourites. Fawad Khan, the Indian students said, was their heartthrob. They both agreed that ban on cross border cinema is absolutely ridiculous and they cannot imagine living in a world where they cannot see each other’s films and TV shows. Were our governments listening?

It is very hard not to be overwhelmed by conversations like this that foster dialog and try to bring people together. When Indian children asked what you like about India, interestingly Pakistanis named all Hindu festivals (Holi, Diwali, Raksha Bandhan) that they love to celebrate as well — Holi being their absolute favorite.

There were also discussions on food, biryani, streets, and least expected — pets and animals! When Pakistani kids shared that they had goats and rabbits for pets, there was a wild cooing and mooing on the Indian side. The Indian students might apply for a VISA to Pakistan for the sole purpose of pet-patting. What do you like about Pakistan? “We like Pakistani rabbits!”, they said.                                                                                                                                   

While Indian kids stumbled and fumbled with Urdu, they were sporting and confident. Pakistani kids responded kindly. The students from Pakistan shared that the Muhammad Iqbal, author of ‘Saare Jahan se Accha Hindustan Hamara’ is the national poet of Pakistan, also known as poet of the east.

As the session was winding down, the students expressed they would love to reconnect and asked Raza Khan when he would be back. One of them said, “Raza Sir, none of them resembled the stereotypes I were taught”.

It was a two-way learning process for the students as well as the mentors of the session. Raza said, “For the students, it was an emotional end of a Skype conversation. I have asked the students to put into words, what impact the connection had on their day. For I know, their response had a greater impact on mine.”

Report by: Tulika Bathija and Aliya Harir

Discussion on “Role of Children in Peacebuilding” with Fr. Joseph Kalathil and Fr. John Chathanatt from India

IMG_20170316_172156

On 18 March, Aaghaz-e-Dosti Lahore chapter conducted a peace discussion with honorable guests from India, Mr. Joseph Kalathil and Mr. John Chathanatt. The discussion was a gathering of about 15 people who were members and supporters of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. 

IMG_20170316_182001The objective of this discussion was to share thoughts, ideas and visions for peace between India and Pakistan as both the Indian guests and the organisers and audience were actively involved in peacebuilding. Infact, the working style of the guest speakers and Aaghaz-e-Dosti was same as both are actively involved in peace education in schools and had initiated letter exchange programs. The guest speakers had brought with them a bunch of letters from Indian students that they were to share with Pakistani students. There was a discussion around these letters, the thoughts, dreams and visions that the young minds had shared. This paved the way for a discussion on the role that children and youths can play in peacebuilding between India and Pakistan.

Through the interaction, it was discussed how the mindsets need to be changed from an early age. The children of both countries needs to be heavily involved in the peace projects. This is not just because they are the future but also because they are not aloof from the conflict. The children in both counIMG_20170316_182152tries grow up in an environment of hatred. They grow up hating each other. Besides other forces, the textbooks have been a fundamental cause for this hatred. It is, thus, important that we work in schools.

The discussion also highlighted the link between Indo-Pak peace building and inter-religious harmony. In South Asia, there is not just aggressive nationalism but religious fundamentalism and communalism and they are also linked closely. It is, thus, important to keep this aspect in mind and work to address both of them.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Kalathil also stated an important aspect to this project which is the need to be patient and understand that peace is a process. He said, “70 years’ rivalry cannot be diminished in one day. It needs a startup and could lead from less time to 25 years or more. But never give up.”

He and Rev. Fr. John Chathanatt emphasized on the need to initiate. They said that individual effort is crucial. We all have to think about what we can do at an individual level.

The discussion ended with ideas to move ahead together in the path towards peace for a better tomorrow.

Report written by

Sarah Awan

Aaghaz-e-Dosti Lahore

To contact us, email us at aaghazedosti@gmail.com

Playing games, singing songs and discovering mutual crushes: 8th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect

In Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 8th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect, two organisations – Project KHEL (Lucknow, India) and Zindagi Trust (Karachi) striving for quality education for underprivileged students connected to facilitate children or leaders of tomorrow in an environment which is beyond the borders of mistrust, miscommunication and hatred.

These sessions called Indo-Pak Classroom Connects are one of the unique peace education initiative of Aaghaz-e-Dosti to utilize ICT, the virtual world where there are no visa restriction to overcome the barriers of lack of communication and understanding. We, at Aaghaz-e-Dosti, believe that it is the lack of communication as well as a lot of miscommunication that sustains the Indo-Pak conflict. In these sessions, we connect students of Indian and Pakistani schools, educational institutions through video conferencing and facilitate an interaction, an environment wherein they can understand life, culture and people across the border and dispel stereotypes.

For 8th Indo-Pak Classroom connect, Aaghaz-e-Dosti joined hands with two education organisations – Project KHEL and Zindagi Trust.  Project KHEL (KHEL is an acronym for Kids Holistic Education and Life-Skills) is a lucknow based non-profit, that uses play and outdoor activities to take education outside the classroom for children from low income backgrounds in and around Lucknow city. Zindagi Trust is a non profit organization working on reforms in two Government schools in Pakistan- SMB Fatima Jinnah and Khatoone Pakistan School. It has brought infra structural and academic changes and through co curricular activities has made these schools as model for public as well as private schools. The founding president of this school is Shehzad Roy, a nationally known singer. 

The interaction was conducted on 27 February 2017. Project Khel had conducted the session in Modern Madrasa in Bhikampur while the Karachi session by Zindagi Trust was conducted in one of its adopted government schools – SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls Secondary School. 

Angana Prasad, one of the co-ordinators of the session from Project KHEL, stated that while this session was planned and organized on a very short notice but when they shared that a session with Pakistani students has been scheduled, it was not just students who were enthusiastic to interact.

The session was conducted in Hindi/Urdu. The students talked about culture, food, festivals and popular culture. They rejoiced at the similarities as well as used this platform to build an understanding about any difference.

Angana Prasad shared that during a discussion on festivals, a student explained to her peers in Pakistan about Maha Shivratri and while doing so, drew analogy between vrat and roza.

The students played a concentration game. They sang songs together. The Pakistan side sang their national song “Dil Dil Pakistan, Jan Jan Pakistan”.  

Angana Prasad said, “The students spoke about culture, food, played games, sang songs and more importantly, understood how across the borders, we’re still the same people crushing on Hrithik Roshan and Shahid Afridi.”  

On both sides, reports Angana Prasad and Shahnaz Hunzai, the students thoroughly enjoyed interacting with each other, discovering a country beyond the borders which is just like their own.

Report written by

Devika Mittal based on inputs by Angana Prasad (Project Khel) and Shahnaz Hunzai (Zindagi Trust) 

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