I believe in Romancing The India-Pakistan Border
‘Let us be friends who respect each other’s differences’

“Namaste! I am Nidhi from India. The idea of Pakistan was always alien to me until I actually started exploring the detailed aspects of my doctoral thesis. I could not think of Pakistan as a ‘friend’ or a ‘brother’. Encounters with Pakistan happened only while cheering for India during cricket matches. These were full of jingoism, national pride and a hatred for the ‘other’.

My perspective changed drastically through the topic I selected for my academic thesis. As I began to explore the different facets of Pakistan and had the privilege of interacting with Pakistanis who are optimistic about peaceful relations between these two great countries, I began to question the logic of hatred and animosity when there is so much in common, so much to share and so much to exchange. I have had pleasant conversations with people from Pakistan who are willing to help me in so many ways. They are welcoming and warm, willing to listen and accommodate my views. Their insights have helped me to a great extent as I work on my thesis.

What bothers me the most is the lack of free exchange among people on both sides, curious to know about each other in the absence of a unifying and liberal platform. What ails interaction between common people is not the border, not the attitude but fear of government and stereotypes. I have always wondered what it would be like to visit Islamabad and Karachi! Would it be the same as travelling on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai?

I believe India and Pakistan will benefit from peace, not war; from dialogue, not hatred; from friendship, not enmity, from collaboration, not confrontation. Brighter prospects of a South Asian century belong to India and Pakistan.

Maybe it is difficult to forget differences, but we can reconcile and celebrate those differences. Let us be friends who respect each other’s differences. Media can be a strong venue for erasing stereotypes and building new perceptions. We need more ventures like Aman ki Asha and Romancing the Border. Peace is possible only if perceptions are positively altered. This is what the media can significantly contribute to. I would like to dedicate my work to the friendly and peace-loving populations of India and Pakistan. Let not governments dictate friendships, let friendships be the matter of the heart!

– Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere

PhD research scholar at the M.S. University of Baroda, Dept. of Political Science, working on “India-Pakistan Conflict Mediation and Role of the Press and New Media of both States”.”

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