These special human beings from across the Line of Control (LoC) came to my life as strangers but have become "friends for life ", touching not only my heart but also touching the heart of my family... proof that true friendship transcends all barriers of religion, caste, creed and culture and it needs only like-minded honest human souls
By Ramanuj Ghosh
Over the last couple of years, India and Pakistan have made many moves towards peace. They are easing trade. Creative minds are participating in cultural exchanges. There are student exchange programmes and the media initiative Aman Ki Asha by the Times of India (India) and Jang Group (Pakistan), which includes life saving medical treatment for Pakistani patients in India in conjunction with Rotary International.
And behind the scenes, a covert peace revolution is taking place, with the 'awam' of both nations engaging with each other through social networking sites and social media ('Netistan', as Shivam Vij termed it on these pages, Sept 21, 2011). Radical misconceptions of Indians and Pakistanis about each other are getting significantly curtailed through people to people contact, thanks to the Internet. "Friends for life" relationships are tumbling out of these web interactions.
This piece is a tribute to my Pakistani best friends and sisters whom I met through Facebook. Four superb, noble, liberal-minded young women who can be considered as the "Holy Grail" of human beings, full of substance and rationality. Each of them has made a great contribution towards peace, but they are content to be silent changemakers, and don't want to come into the limelight. So I'll just talk about them here and their roles, without naming them.
This journey of peace started when I got to know M. whom I 'met' by chance on Facebook. She showed immense gallantry and secularism by allowing me equal opportunities to participate in her discussions, just like her prominent Pakistani friends, without any discrimination. I commend the respect she showed me as a human being and as a friend, regardless of my Indian identity. She showed true sportmanship spirit in open-heartedly and promptly congratulating me on India's win in the World Cup.
I asked her just once to pray for my parents when they were fighting for their life in hospital ICUs. That was enough for her to be moved and vigorously pray for their lives during the holy month of Ramzan. I believe it is due to her and her entire family's prayers that my parents are still here today. Her honest urge for peace and stability between India and Pakistan is reflected in her peace dream, in which my children will spend their vacation with her children, her husband and herself, in Lahore, without an iota of negativity. The imagination of such a dream itself reflects the magnanimity of the core she possesses that can only be termed "sacred".
My journey's second phase started with getting to know "Angel" as I call her, who is M.'s younger sister and who considers me as her brother. That is how Angel, a Pakistani girl, became my little sister, an Indian Hindu's sister, in every sense of the word. She is a precious diamond, very emotional at heart, feeling the pain of others along with her glowing smile and sense of humor. The pure love and respect she has shown by listing me as her sibling among her blood brothers and sisters touches me deeply.
I greatly respect the fact that she took out time to continuously pray for my ill parents after hearing about their health condition from her elder sister M. Without realising it herself, she has also contributed a chunk towards peace by honestly sticking to the ethos of humanity. She can be truly proud of her peace efforts that have made me admire her, for being such a great sister and a true peace lover.
My other best friend in Pakistan is someone I think of as a "sherni" (lioness). She is a social soldier, working tirelessly to eradicate social evils from Pakistani society, through myriad social initiatives. She is highly educated, doing her Masters in Clinical Psychology along with her envious passion for social change through various ventures. Her gem of a personality is reflected in how flamboyantly she is just herself, using various catch phrases for me and helping me find solutions during my adverse mental states, by de-stressing me through her unique advice. I admire her desire to learn new things to enrich her knowledge and enlighten her more as a human being.
She invited me to attend a peace conference in Karachi (which I could not make it to, due to visa restrictions), but more than the invitation was her amazing offer of food and lodging. Her knowledge of Indian culture and respect for the education system in India makes me proud of her impartial understanding and proud to be her close friend. She is a true "sherni" for me.
I have one other little sister in Pakistan, "Guriya" as I sometimes call her, Sherni's sister. The immense love she showers on me like a sister makes me feel very lucky to have her by my side. She shows infinite trust in me, asking for solutions to problems in her life, both personal and professional, just like she would ask her own elder brother. It reflects the pure heart she possesses. In addition, she is one impressive young lady, completing her Masters in Economics and turning out to be the top performer among her peers.
She even participated in Aman ki Asha's 'Postcards for Faiz' event at Karachi's Sadeqain Gallery, as part of the media cell. Like her elder sister, she is also bitten by the social welfare bug and participates in several community service programmes. Her involvement in the theatre arena indicates her creative bent. In a nutshell she can be aptly called the all-rounder that we all aspire to be.
These special human beings from across the Line of Control (LoC) came to my life as strangers but have become "friends for life ", touching not only my heart but also touching the heart of my family, and my great Indian doctor friend who is also their friend now. We form a small group of peacenicks making our friendship stronger day by day proving that true friendship transcends all barriers of religion, caste, creed and culture and it needs only like-minded honest human souls.
Here's my sincere wish: I wish that people like us from both nations would allowed to interact more as we are much better equipped to foster peace and build trust than politicians. So let India and Pakistan be blessed with permanent peace, and I be blessed with the permanent presence of these best friends and sisters in my life, our relations enriched by frequent contacts throughout my whole life.
The writer is an Indian Bengali from Calcutta,
who has recently completed his Masters in Business Administration, "now with an ardent love for peace between
India and Pakistan". Email: email@example.com
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw