Joining the #ProfileforPeace campaign launched after the Pathankot attack, Indians and Pakistanis urge leaders to keep talking and not let the terrorists win
The Pathankot attack on Jan 2, 2016, coming on the heels of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Dec. 25, 2015, again triggered tensions between India and Pakistan. As the mainstream media played up war mongering slogans and anger, peace activists turned to social media to make their voices heard.
Mumbai-based filmmaker and advertising specialist Ram Subramanian, who had last year started the ‘Peace Velfies’ movement re-kindled his highly visible #ProfileForPeace campaign by changing his profile picture on Facebook with this note:
“It happens every time. We talk about peace and immediately terrorists appear magically out of nowhere. Then begins the blame game… When I see our leaders fight over the ownership of terrorists I see two grown-ass men who are neighbours fighting because some rats from one side of the fence jumped over the other side. I don’t understand why these grown-ass men can’t understand that they need to come together to… eradicate the problem of pestilence.
That’s what smart people will do, despite their differences. Says something about our leadership, doesn’t it?
For long we have seen our leaders fail to lead us and allow situations and incidents lead us.
For long the majority, we people who want peace, have been ruled by the actions of the few who want violence.
For long we people have been quiet. Now we will speak in pictures.. If enough people do this then this becomes numbers.. Numbers that unite as a powerful voice… the voice of democracy which no leadership can ignore.
This campaign is the collective wish of people. Yes, we ‘one people’!
To participate in this campaign, write a similar message on a post-it or on a piece of paper, take your selfie with it and make it your profile picture. Add the two hashtags in the description. Make it your twitter profile pic and tweet it to Narendra Modi so that our leaders listen to us!”
Indo-Pak peace warriors have enthusiastically joined the campaign, including members of the Aman ki Asha Facebook group and page, many of whom have changed their profile pictures. Prominent among them are popular Pakistani actress Nadia Jamil, musician Saif Samejo of The Sketches teaming up with his friend, Indian theatre artist Ram Mohan Holagundi, Mukta Lall (daughter of famous Urdu poet Jagannath Azad), activist Saeeda Diep, Swati Sharan who initiated Pray for Peace, poet Rafiq Kathwari, along with Gur Mehar Kaur, “daughter of an Indian army officer who died fighting Pakistan” and many others.
“Numbers matter,” says Subramanian. “Governments are watching the data, they see people changing their profile pictures, it makes a difference, it shows them people are speaking up and are more self-aware. The leadership can either listen to what people want or let them fester in their disappointment. At some point, if nothing is being done, people will decide to vote in younger leaders who will provide what people need. It’s just inevitable logic arising from an increasingly aware population of both nations.”
Responses to this campaign has been very positive, he adds, thanking the Aman Ki Asha team and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation for their support. “It’s interesting to see men and women, way past their retirement, have taken on to this campaign on social media with the same gusto as college going teenagers.”
Subramanian’s earlier #ProfileForPeace movement resulted in over 30,000 people participating in the campaign that made the front pages news in dailies across India and Pakistan. The rise in the voices of people calling for peace has been followed by peace overtures between India and Pakistan.
Hopefully, the current #KillTerrorismNotTalks chapter of #ProfileForPeace will ensure they keep meeting, continue talking and work together to find a solution to the terrorism problem plagues both nations.