The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners
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 released after the talks.....read more
On the wrong side of the border
Such is the level of trust between the two countries that the slightest of attempts to facilitate an accused can earn one the title of a traitor
You are a spy, a terrorist or a saboteur until proven otherwise. This may be the situation confronting a Pakistani visitor to India or an Indian visitor to Pakistan apprehended for violating certain rules spelt out for them. On many an occasion, the visitors have been sent behind bars just for being at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
"Both governments lack political will"
The maritime boundary between India and Pakistan remains disputed nearly 64 years after the partition of the Indian sub-continent. The demarcation of Sir Creek (locally known as Baan Ganga) - a 96-kilometre strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands, which separates the Indian state of Gujarat from Pakistan's Sindh province and opens into the Arabian Sea remains another bone of contention between the two neighbouring South Asian countries.....read more
...and vice versa
Treatment given to Indian prisoners here is no different from that of Pakistani prisoners there
By Aoun Sahi
On July 15, 2006, four days after the Mumbai train blasts, Muhammad Hanif, a 40 year-old resident of Orangi town in Karachi, landed at Ahmadabad airport in India on a usual business trip. He reached his hotel at 6 in the evening. Half an hour later, he found a group of police officials wanting to interrogate him at the local police station.....read more
Minor offence, severe repercussions
Offences which may be considered minor in other countries are 'heinous' when committed by Indians and Pakistanis in each other's territory
Muhammad Shahbaz, 35, a member of the Pakistani delegation of artists and writers to India, had gone through the immigration process and completed all other official formalities, he realised there was more to come. As he approached the car parking stand, he saw around half a dozen individuals darting towards him.....read more
India and Pakistan callously wash their hands off their citizens, even though it is the duty of diplomatic missions to come to the latter's aid
By Sushant Sareen
Unless they become a cause celebre, either because of their nuisance value, or because of media interest (which is almost always interchangeable with nuisance value) or because their case becomes a big political and diplomatic issue, the status of people caught on the wrong side of the India-Pakistan border (a double whammy, if ever there was one), is generally that of disavowed citizens.....read more
A year of awareness raising
What the governments of India and Pakistan have been unable to achieve despite many well intentioned and well considered peace offensives over sixty years, the Aman ki Asha peace campaign appears to have achieved in just 12 months. One year after the Jang Group and the Times of India launched Aman ki Asha, an Indo-Pak peace initiative, perceptions about the two countries are significantly less hostile, as a poll conducted jointly in India and Pakistan shows.....read more
Last batch of Indian fishermen leaves for home
The last batch of Indian fishermen, comprising 141 men, was released on Monday morning from Malir Jail, Karachi.
The released fisher men traveled to Lahore by three buses. Once they reach Lahore, they will be handed over to the Indian authorities at the Wahga border. The Sindh government, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, ordered the release of all the 442 Indian fishermen languishing in provincial jails, Naushehro Feroz, Badin, Nara Jail and Malir Jail for the last three years. The first batch was released on August 30, 2010.....read more
PRISONERS OF POOR POLICIES: INDIAN AND PAKISTANI FISHERMEN... Arrest, release, repeat
By Sheher Bano
As we welcome Pakistan's repatriation of 442 arrested Indian fishermen. And let us remember that the Pakistani and Indian fishing communities along the shared Sindh, Balochistan and Gujarat coastline continue to risk harassment, arrest and detention by the other country on charges of border violation.
Indian citizens demand release of Pakistani prisoners in Indian prisons
News desk adds: Prominent Indian citizens on Aug 30 sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, copied to Home Minister P Chidambaram and Minister for External Affairs Mr. S M Krishna, urging a reciprocal release of Pakistani fishermen.
Signed by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, former navy chief Admiral (R) L Ramdas, journalist Jatin Desai and grassroots activist Mazher Hussain, the letter requests Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "look into the plight of Pakistani fishermen languishing in various Indian prisons.....read more
100 Indian fishermen freed from Malir jail
Karachi: A hundred Indian fishermen, including two minor children, were released from Malir Jail, Karachi, on Monday. The released fishermen will travel to Lahore on two buses arranged by the government. They will be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagha Border.....read more
Singing for peace
While Pakistan's own Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was invited especially to sing at the Queens Baton Relay ceremony in India, Aman ki Asha got together a musical event on this side of the border. After the Peace Chain knot was tied, the Rangers' Luddi Party gave an energetic performance, followed by a wonderful performance from Jassi Lailpuria Singh (yes, he's a Sikh, and yes, he's Pakistani).
When the Baton Relay reached the stage, a brass band played the national anthem. Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer accompanied the Baton across to the other side. Later, Najam Shiraz and his little daughter Haya, and Jawad Ahmed wowed the crowd with th....read more
The dialogue goes on
Dilip D'Souza and Beena Sarwar end their email exchange series with a pledge to keep the dialogue going
June 17 2010
You ask a pointed question: whether I, "like most Indians, think that if the Kashmiris just stopped agitating, all will be well?"
Well, I'm not sure what "most Indians" think about that, but I don't think that at all. To begin with, I don't think the Kashmiris will "just stop agitating" in the near term, and that's why all is not well now and will not be well for a while. There is too deep a reservoir of resentment and anger for any kind of "normalcy" to return soon.....read more
Joint narratives, common ground
June 10, 2010
I can live with "Indian Administered Kashmir" and "Pakistan Administered Kashmir".
I'll have to think about "militant" for "terrorist", partly because then that might let off the hook homegrown Indians responsible for terrorism. And I will likely have to disagree about India's interference in 1971 being nothing but a hostile act. I mean, it was hostile, necessarily so. But I believe it had to happen. I think peoples have aspirations, naturally so, and (West) Pakistan was actively and brutally suppressing the East's aspirations in 1971. There was a moral obligation to step i....read more
June 3, 2010
Right at the start of this missive, I have been wondering just how we will ever reconcile our diametrically different views on what we call POK/what you call AJK. (Let alone reconcile the names). You are taught that it "joined Pakistan voluntarily". We are taught that Pakistan grabbed it from us in 1947. What's the meeting point between these two perceptions? How do we resolve this disagreement?
Yet resolve it we will have to. If you say it is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, it is just that in India too. In fact, it is almost fundamental to the way we consider ourselves as Indians, starting right fr....read more
A grounding for reconciliation
May 20, 2010
So here you go - on my wife's birthday I am taking a couple of hours off to write this to you. Please send whatever brownie points I'm eligible for to various powers that be in our countries.
Facetiousness aside, I'm once more in the hills as I write, this time in the south. Such a clean, quiet, beautiful spot. So peaceful, in fact, given our discussions for several weeks now, I cannot help wondering if such peace is the exception in our part of the world, rather than the rule; and if so, will that ever change? Is it meant only for an incredibly lucky few?....read more
More than 50 Pakistani delegates to participate in New Delhi Business Meet
Leading Pakistani and Indian businessmen will meet in a two-day business conference that starts in New Delhi today. The business meet titled "Partners for Peace and Progress," under the auspices of Aman Ki Asha, is a joint initiative for peace launched at the start of this year by the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India Group (TOI).
More than 50 delegates from Pakistan are attending the meet, while more than 200 Indian delegates have registered for this conference to explore avenues of opportunities and ways in which businesspersons of the two countries can work together.....read more
There is more than truth
May 13, 2010
In your last letter, you said that "many Indians feel there's no point talking to the Pakistan government, given the strength of the 'establishment' here." I should tell you that there are plenty of Indians who feel there's no point talking to the Indian government, for various reasons. At an extreme we have the Maoist insurgents, who long ago decided that talking to the Government is futile, and have taken to arms. Perhaps at another extreme, we have plenty of ordinary middle-class folks who will not exercise their most basic dialogue with the government -- their vote. And ....read more
The trust deficit
May 6 2010
I am heartened too by our PMs meeting in Thimphu. But let me say that I also have hope from such events as your Aman ki Asha seminar, where there's discussion between folks from both sides who have less political pressures on them than ministers.
Still, while I don't mean to second-guess what happened at the seminar, I wonder about the urge to build a "consensus" in discussions like these. Is that always necessary or useful, what do you think? I wonder if we end up watering down our own emotions and concerns in the search for consensus, and thus leave them essentially un-ad....read more
April, 22 2010
I know your Berlin adventure was stymied by, of all things, a volcano in Iceland. Who'd have thought it? Somebody more eloquent than I could probably find some kind of metaphor, for the prospects for peace between us, in those spewing ashes. Another time.
To get to your last missive. Yes, perhaps we are going round in circles to a degree; and yet I think we are indeed getting somewhere. For surely it's when we come to grips with things we disagree on, whatever they are, that we will find what making peace really entails.....read more
Clap with both hands
April 15, 2009
Rejuvenated by a few days tramping in the hills, I return to our fray, if that's the word.
Let me be frank, I think we Indians have messed up in Kashmir. Whatever the reasons are, here are the outlines of the mess today: one whole section of the population driven from the state and forced to live in squalid refugee camps in Delhi and Jammu; plenty of others in the state turned almost implacably hostile to India; an army presence there that anyone from anywhere else in India would find startling and disturbing; daily bloodshed of soldiers and civilians; need I go on? A go....read more
Media counters and encounters
As senior journalists and anchorpersons from India and Pakistan argued over the role of the media in creating harmony or discord between the two countries, the audience impatiently waited to throw questions at some of the stars up on the stage.
The venue was a large room at Avari Towers, Karachi, converted overnight into a studio by the Geo team filming this interaction. What the people sitting in the jam-packed hall wanted to know was, what type of Pakistani content is present in Indian newspapers and TV channels, and why the Indian media rarely focuses on other issues besides terrorism that concern Pakistani society.
"Of cou....read more
Efforts continue to help Pakistani schoolboy in Indian prison
Lahore schoolboy Nauman Arshad was presented in the court (Judicial Magistrate III, Amritsar) on March 31 (See earlier report from Times of India, 'Not all who sneak across are terrorists', Aman ki Asha page, March 31).
On behalf of Nauman's family, advocate Asad Jamal in Lahore had dispatched two documents (NADRA certificate and BISE roll no. slip for grade nine exams, duly attested and notarised) showing his age (15) to Chandigarh-based lawyer Navkiran Singh, general secretary of Lawyers for Human Rights International (LFHRI). Mr Singh's associate VPS Bhatia confirmed to Mr Jamal over telephone that the documents had be....read more
Chain of hope
Giving peace a helping hand
Thousands of handkerchiefs to pave the path of peace
Ever wondered what you can do to change history Ever thrown up your hands in quiet despair as two nations of the subcontinent fumble with foreign policy Ever realized the power of the people when it comes to resolving discords of the past A solution is possible, though our politicians squabble across the barbed border.Instead of wondering ever so often just what keeps India and Pakistan from coming together, now is the time to take that step towards changing history. Making peace happen.....read more
Frankly my dear, let's give a damn
April 1 2010
OK, so perhaps we are agreed that we should find a way to take forward the idea of a joint war memorial and/or peace parks on the borders. We should ask about your view that a serving soldier cannot openly support such an idea. I cannot imagine that doing so would be equated to refusing to serve and being called a conscientious objector. Perhaps we can write a letter to senior officers in both our countries, suggesting such memorials, and see where it goes. I'll draft one and let's discuss it.....read more
Push for peace parks
March 25, 2010
Let's talk a little bit more this week about the notion of a joint war memorial, before moving on to other wrangles.
Precedents: The US has Civil War memorials that commemorate -- on the same piece of land and in at least one case I know of, Shiloh, on the same memorial tablet -- the patriotism and sacrifice of soldiers on both sides of that bloody, brutal war. To me, memorials like these were the best way (the only way?) for a deeply divided nation to reconstruct and move on, thus giving new meaning to the idea of "United" States. Triumphant memorials by the victors wou....read more
Unheard and unsung -- not quite
The story of how one man's initiative set a chain of events that restored dignity to Mubarak Begum, a forgotten playback singer in Mumbai.
It must have been the saddest message that anybody would hope to receive on New Years Day. The year 2008 had just begun and the place was Boston, USA.....read more
"India and Pakistan need to exchange art"
Ghalib Baqar, 53, happens to be one of the few notable water colour artists in Pakistan. His first solo exhibition was held at BM Gallery in 1983 and it was inaugurated by noted scientist, intellectual, and painter Dr. Salimuzaman Siddiqui. In 1991, Baqar had a solo exhibition at Indus Art Gallery managed by Pakistan's leading artist Ali Imam. Baqar has over 20 years....read more
March 18, 2010
To begin with, my salaams to the memory and spirit of Aziz Siddiqui, whom you mentioned in your last letter. He's right, of course: is giving up the fight for your beliefs even an option?....read more
It's about time
March 11, 2010
Again, so much to address! But since I asked what annoys you about Indians, and since you answered so frankly, let me make that the theme for this instalment of our exchange, and in two ways.
First, your beef is with "the hard-nosed nationalism and sense of superiority of many Indians, the refusal to introspect and see flaws within their own society." Personally, I'm bothered too by this reluctance to see flaws, by the sense of almost manifest destiny and even entitlement that a lot of us Indians nurse.....read more
Mar 2 2010
Since we've started on this path of exploring the anti-the-other-country feelings, let's take it a little further and see where it goes.
First, you draw a distinction between the (sometimes) elected Pakistani governments and what you call the "establishment" - the army/bureaucracy nexus, if you will. Nawaz Sharif was, you tell us, pro-India, but this establishment undermined his government's efforts in that direction.....read more
Mohammed Amir, 35, banker: "There has to be peace between India and Pakistan as there's no point in fighting anymore."
Roshan Ara, 65, housewife: "I visit India every year and not once have I faced any discrimination. People are respectful and nice to you even if you don't know them."
And the winner is...
Last Sunday, the popular shopping mall Park Towers, Karachi, was host to an unusually large crowd. But then, it was the venue of an unusual activity. Hordes of families crowded around the lobby that had been taken over by the Aman ki Asha event. Video screens broadcast the Aman the Asha 'anthem' penned by Gulzar, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali and Shankar Mahadevan.
Live coverage by radio jockeys (RJs) from FM Apna Karachi 107 added to the event. Two 7x10 feet white panels started out pristine white and were soon covered with messages, mostly of goodwill, for India. 'Pakistan-India Zindabad', 'We are one', and 'I love Pakistan and India' t....read more
A road show for peace
'Are you from India? Can I have your sign please?" was a question that those associated with the organisers often heard during the Aman ki Asha event at Park Towers, Karachi, last Sunday.
Asked why he wanted to meet Indians, one young man cradling a six-month old baby wrapped in pink, answered quietly, "I want to ask them why they are being so hostile."
Let's keep it going
That was a good start, thank you. While I know that terrorism continues unabated in Pakistan, I had no idea of the numbers you quoted to me. 8,000 civilians and 3,000 security personnel killed in seven years, is a tragic, horrifying toll. I think more of us in India need to comprehend the magnitude of....read more
Peace is hard work
I started writing this before Pune. When I heard about those 11 more senseless deaths, I decided to rewrite it. I want to start by saying how difficult horrors like this make it to remain committed to the idea of peace, of speaking the language of reason. Here's the bottom line:....read more
All for a Bhagat Singh library in Pakistan
Shreya Roy Chowdhury
Lyallpur, now Faisalabad, in Pakistan, was the birthplace of Bhagat Singh. A three-member delegation from the city was in India to visit Dhudhike a village in Moga district of Indian Punjab, where Lala Lajpat Rai was born. Chaudhary Zafar Iqbal, Azhar Mehmood of Duniya TV and social activist, Tahir Iqbal, are members of Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), a civil society group formed in 1994.....read more
The controversy continues - with a silver lining?
The IPL controversy all but died down in Pakistan after India's otherwise hawkish Union Home minister condemned the decision. The stand taken by Chidambaram, a Hindu, who comes down hard on Pakistan for fomenting terrorism, did much to reassure Pakistan that the Indian government was not, as widely perceived, behind the decision.
But in India, the controversy continues, with the "Indian Taliban" as the Hindu right wing have been dubbed, turning viciously on the darling of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), for his stance on the issue.....read more
People-to-people verdict: Peace is the answer
The neighbourhood we live in may be the deadliest in the world, but it also is one in which the yearning for peace is enormous. Indeed, the very fact that the horrors of hostility have been brought home so forcefully to all those who live in this neighbourhood may explain why two nations that have had such an embittered relationship voice such a strong cry for some sanity. In an extensive poll conducted jointly for The Times of India and the Jang group of Pakistan, what we found was that an overwhelming majority want a peaceful relationship. Most hearteningly -- and unexpectedly -- there is also a high degree of optimism about the po....read more
'Aman Ki Asha,' a joint venture
"Removing the bottlenecks in the visa issuance process can help the national airlines of both India and Pakistan. The two airlines won't even have to worry about empty seats if that happens. In Karachi alone, there are thousands of Gujrati-speaking people who still have relatives in Indian Gujrat.
Just in this month of Muharram, PIA arranged four extra 747 flights for members of the Bohra community who went to India to see their spiritual leader. These are the sort of ties the two countries have. And there is much more. Besides the religious traffic, the whole world is visiting India. There is a lot of potential for tourist tra....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