By Rabia Ali
KARACHI: Melodic songs reverberated as hundreds of children scrambled to show off their messages on white handkerchiefs – all calling for peace with India.
On Tuesday, students of the Happy Home School, Gulshan Campus, painted, drew on and coloured their ‘Peace Hankies’ as part of a unique activity which aimed to bring youngsters across the border closer.
This campaign, which is part of the Jang group and Time of India’s joint peace initiative, Aman Ki Asha, encourages students to pen down their peace messages on handkerchiefs known as Peace Hankies. The campaign will culminate with the formulation a chain of hankies, spreading across the Wagah Border.
With the library of the school converted into an art room, children exhibited their art skills and let their creativity to run free. Their innocent faces glowed with laughter and enthusiasm as they drew handshakes, doves and hearts onto the handkerchiefs.
“It is essential for both countries to be on peaceful terms so that terrorism can be eliminated from the subcontinent. Also, as a student I feel that cordial relations between the two neighbours will benefit us because there will be an exchange of educational activities,” said a bright Maha Shafiq as she stroked her paintbrush to complete her picture of a dove, her messenger of peace.
Sitting cross-legged, another student, Maham, was drawing the outline of the national flags of India and Pakistan. “A majority of the families living in the country have ancestors who belong to India. Since we share the same history and culture, it would be good if there was peace between them. No one wants war; we all want peace,” she said.
Some mischievous youngsters had, meanwhile, painted the names of Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza on their hankies along with fluttering hearts, calling the two as ambassadors for peace. “Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza’s wedding has boosted the peace process. I think other players should follow their example. I wish Shoaib Akhtar marries Bollywood actress Deepika,” a student, Shariq, said, grinning from ear to ear. Another student added that peace was imperative to solve issues such as Kashmir and the water dispute.
Tooba Arshaf, student of Grade-9 wished that tensions between the two countries would ease so that the she could visit her cousins in Delhi. “I sincerely hope and pray that Pakistan and India become friends so that I can visit my relatives in India,” she said. While lauding the initiative, Ashraf added that more activities involving students should also be carried out. “Students in Pakistan should be educated about historical places in India. Similarly, those in India should be told about our landmarks. Informative sessions should be held,” she said.
The students had brought their own stationary for the artwork. The principal of the school, Mrs Mirza, lauded the efforts of Aman Ki Asha, and said that it was necessary to involve youngsters – the futures of both neighbours – in order to promote peace in the region.
The future of our countries lies with these children,” Farah Shaheen, the co-curriculum coordinator of the school said. “We want to sow the seeds of peace and harmony amongst them so that when they grow up, they do not indulge in wars and disputes. There should be stability between the two countries in order to provide a healthy and secure environment.”
Oblivious to warfare terms, innocent primary students were engrossed in the activity in the school’s playground. “There should be friendship,” shouted a group of third graders. A zealous fourth grader, Warisha, stepped forward to show her picture of two men, draped in the national colours of Pakistan and India, hugging each other “We can’t work together if we are separated from one another. Aman Hai Mera Hisa (peace is a part of me),” this determined little girl said, hoping to see the flame of peace ignited between Pakistan and India.
The campaign, meanwhile, has gained momentum in India as well, and around 200,000 schoolgoing children have penned their messages on Peace Hankies.