South Asia has been a victim of stereotypes. This is especially true regarding India and Pakistan, where preconceived notions about each other have influenced the broader narrative emerging from both countries over the last 65 years. Peacemakers too, have been subjected to unfair labelling. Many write off those involved in the unofficial peace process as a few English-speaking individuals from privileged backgrounds, oblivious of ground realities and interested primarily in cross-border junkets. Certainly these criticisms may apply to some individuals - after all, these efforts, like any other initiative, are not immune from the ills which plague our societies. On the whole, however, peace efforts are becoming more result-oriented and are beginning to seriously address these issues too.
An excellent example was the four-day workshop (August 23-26) organisd by WISCOMP (Women in Security Conflict Management and Peace), a Delhi based NGO, which I had the privilege of attending for the second time. WISCOMP hosted the first such workshop over a decade ago, continuing even during times of tension.
For starters, the workshop was diverse in every sense of the word. Participants included young men and women, mostly young, from a diverse range of professions and social strata of Pakistan, India and Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Secondly, even controversial issues were discussed threadbare, in a civilized manner, not only in the context of India and Pakistan, but also including the viewpoint of Kashmiris from both sides.
The workshop was not just descriptive but also prescriptive. Participants, especially from Pakistan, spoke about serious efforts being made to counter the hatred being spread by the educational curriculum and certain sections of the media.
Eminent individuals from both sides who have distinguished themselves in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and journalism presented their views and responded to queries from both sides in a forthright manner. The workshop ended not just with participants bidding each other goodbye and promising to keep in touch individually, but with each participant resolving to join the crusade for peace in South Asia in different ways.
My own takeaway was that such sustained efforts contribute towards ensuring that peace process between both countries grows not only in numbers, but also in substance.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Pakistan-India Business Meet,
May 18-19, 2010, New Delhi
A landmark meeting of top Indian and Pakistani .....more
NEW DELHI: The first of its kind meet between top Pak-India businesspersons and corporate leaders starts here today (Tuesday) with the hope that it wil .....more
Ironically, it was the words of the Indian Army Chief that made many journalists covering the tensions at LoC take the first pause in the ba .....more
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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