Nazar mein rehte ho, these melodies call


Nazar mein rehte ho, these melodies call
Participants at the Indo-Pak Peace Calendar 2018 launch in Lahore

The absence of missing peace activist Raza Khan was keenly felt at the Sixth Indo-Pak Peace Calendar took place in Lahore

Aaghaz-e-Dosti banner

Aaghaz-e-Dosti banner

The volunteer youth peace group Aaghaz-e-Dosti launched its Sixth Indo-Pak Peace Calendar in Lahore at a well-attended event last weekend addressed by reputed professionals.

Speakers at the launch on 27 January 2018 at the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) auditorium included I.A. Rehman, Salima Hashmi, Imtiaz Alam, Saeeda Diep, Nighat Saeed Khan, Salman Rashid, Samina Rehman and Dr. Anita Weiss.

Talented singer Ali Aftab Saeed (of Aloo Anday fame) made a cameo appearance singing a few stanzas from the Aman Ki Asha ‘Anthem’, originally sung by Rahat Fateh Ali and Shankar Mahadevan.

Nazar mein rehtey ho jab tum nazar nahin aatey
Yeh sur bulatey hain jab tum idhar nahin aatey

(You stay in my sight when you are out of sight
These melodies call you when you are not here)

School principal Samina Rehman presenting a certificate to the father of missing coordinator Raza Mahmud Khan.

School principal Samina Rehman presenting a certificate to the father of missing coordinator Raza Mahmud Khan.

As every year, the annual calendar includes colourful and inspiring paintings by schoolchildren from India and Pakistan. Aaghaz-e-Dosti (Start of Friendship) has also facilitated cross-border letters exchange between students.

Several schoolchildren at the event read out letters from their Indian counterparts.

The calendar also includes inspiring messages by prominent personalities on either side of the border, including “Father of Green Revolution” Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, feminist Kamla Bhasin, The Hindu’s former correspondent in Pakistan Nirupma Subramanian, and photographer-author Amardeep Singh (“Lost Heritage: Pakistan’s Sikh Legacy”), Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak and former President, Press Club of India Rahul Jalali.

From Pakistan, messages for the 2018 calendar come from retired Pakistan Army Lt. Gen. Mohd. M. Alam, historian Dr. Mubarak Ali, senior journalist and Secretary General SAFMA Imtiaz Alam, writer Anam Zakaria, spokesperson of Awami Workers Party Farooq Tariq, and academic Dr. Anita M. Weiss currently carrying out fieldwork in Punjab.

AeD Lahore team with a symbolic picture of their missing coordinator Raza Mahmud Khan.

AeD Lahore team with a symbolic picture of their missing coordinator Raza Mahmud Khan.

Aed’s volunteer friendship activities are jointly initiated by Hum Sab Aik Hain (Pakistan) and Mission Bhartiyam (India). The group’s convenor in Pakistan, Raza Khan organised the last two calendar launches in Lahore. Since he has gone missing since 2 December 2017, AeD team members have carried on the organisation’s mission with great courage and dedication.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti acting convener Atiqa Shahid stressed that their mission for peace and peaceful coexistence between Pakistan and India would continue. Like e hoped that he would be back soon.

She said AeD aims to create people-to-people contacts to raise issues that affect both sides, like poverty, violence, and other social issues that directly affect the South Asian people.

The initiative has opened a door of friendship through an exchange of letters, greeting cards and cultural and open mic nights via video conferencing, she said.

She stressed that the Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an apolitical effort by volunteers who carry out their work while respecting laws and constitution.

The impact of this work has been very positive especially in school communities, in terms of helping students to express their views about each other.

I.A. Rehman presenting a certificate to a student who contributed a painting to the calendar.

I.A. Rehman presenting a certificate to a student who contributed a painting to the calendar.

The missing AeD coordinator’s father was also present and movingly hoped his son would be back soon.

SAFMA chief Imtiaz Alam said that both Pakistan and India are going through a difficult time. He called for fresh political engagements and more efforts for peace and friendship between both countries. “We have to open doors for peace, as we have no other option but to accommodate corridors leading towards peace”.

In Pakistan, those who commit and support violence roam freely while peaceful citizens face abductions, jails and disappearances, said I. A. Rehman eminent journalist and former head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “We cannot support preachers of hatred,” he said, adding that our destination must be peace.

Saeeda Diep, executive director of the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) asserted that the seminar participants sent “a strong message to the enemies of peace and the forces behind intolerance that we want peace in Pakistan and the region. We have nothing to do with warmongers and writers of hate speeches”.

Artwork symbolising the search for missing persons.

Artwork symbolising the search for missing persons.

Prominent women’s rights activist and researcher Nighat Saeed Khan and well-known travel writer and photographer Salman Rashid also addressed the audience, and shared stories of their visits to India and interactions with Indians.

American professor Anita Weiss, in Pakistan for research, addressed the audience in Urdu and English, and talked about the Pakistani people she has encountered whose approach towards peace she appreciated.

The Peace Calendar was earlier launched in Delhi on 14 January 2018, eminent speakers included Chairman of Centre for Peace and Progress O. P. Shah, Consulting editor Indian Express Jyoti Malhotra and activist and author Prof. Jagmohan Singh, nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak and former President, Press Club of India Rahul Jalali.

Calendar launch

Calendar launch

 

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