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aman ki asha

DESTINATION PEACE

AN INITIATIVE OF THE TIMES OF INDIA & THE JANG GROUP OF PAKISTAN


THE TIMES OF INDIA I BANGALORE I FRIDAY, JANUARY 1, 2010

PEACE WITH PAKISTAN

Give Tomorrow A Chance


Jaideep Bose

istory is what we inherit. The future is what we make of it. The Partition, for millions of Indians, remains the most traumatic chapter in living memory a raw, deep wound in the body and soul of this nation that the passage of six decades has not helped heal. India and Pakistan have fought four wars (including Kargil), been on the perilous brink of a fifth, have exchanged heavy border fire countless times, and continue to view each other with suspicion and hostility . The 26/11 Mumbai assault confirmed what New Delhi has believed for a while that Pak-based groups have been involved in recruiting, training and financing terrorists whove struck Indian cities with chilling regularity, killing hundreds of innocent people. Theres a sense on this side of the border that these terrorists have, at least in the past, been used, unofficially or semi-officially, as proxies in an undeclared, low-intensity war against India. Against such a backdrop, it is but natural for the Indian government to move with caution on reopening negotiations with Islamabad. Nor can it be blamed for wanting to first ascertain if the Pakistan government is serious about cracking down on crossborder terrorism. Anything else would be seen as a weak-kneed response to a terrible threat to the Indian state one that could compromise the safety of its citizens and betray the memory of the many lives so wantonly snuffed out. nd yet, the need for aman has never been greater. Shouldnt someone, somewhere try to take a bold, even if tiny, step towards breaking this unending cycle of enmity and violence? Chances are that such an effort will be heaped with ridicule by the naysayers and dismissed as naive by the skeptics. Does that mean we say no to giving peace a fighting chance? That we play into the hands of warmongers, who want nothing more than to keep the two nations at each others throat? And condemn our children, grandchildren and the generations thereafter to a life of strife? As it is, we live in what is widely described as the most dangerous neighbourhood in the world two nuclear powers who share a border and a history of hate. With Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan in tura bare minimum. Apart from those with relatives on the other side, or those who need to travel on business, there is little traffic between the two countries. The big benefit of the two largest media houses coming together is that it will help open new windows into each others world. Are we being foolishly romantic, are we tilting at windmills? Perhaps. Will our efforts bear fruit? We can only hope they will. All that we can do is plant as many saplings as possible and pray that they grow deep roots in the ground and strong shoots in the air. Ours is by no means the first peace effort braver men and women have walked the path before us. There have been several efforts at Track II people-to-people diplomacy . But its been more stop than go, frequently disrupted by outbreaks of violence and terror. So why do we persist? It is our fervent belief and a poll conducted for Aman ki Asha bears us out that an overwhelming majority of Indians and Pakistanis want peace EDITOR and stability . Also, it is an article of faith with us that the sum of all good must triumph over the sum of all evil because there is so much more good than evil in this world. Evil exists in pockets of darkness, but has a nasty habit of casting a disproportionately long shadow. hose of us who have been fortunate enough to visit Pakistan have come back, almost without exception, brimming with stories of warmth, hospitality and an amazing generosity of spirit. Pakistan is one of the few countries where we are made to feel genuinely welcome, not for our growing economic clout or the buying power of our tourists, but for ourselves. What could be a more powerful bond to build on, than this? What we need is wider and deeper engagement to tear down the walls that separate us, and clear the misconceptions we harbour about each other. Theres an unfortunate notion among some of us in India that Pakistanis rub their hands in glee every time were struck by terror. Far from it 26/11, in particular, left them shocked and saddened. Just as most Indians are moved to tears by the sight of a father in Lahore or Karachi or Multan cradling the body of a daughter killed by a bomb. If India has been at the receiving end of one deadly terror attack after another, so has Pakistan, indeed with far greater frequency . And if our hearts go out to each other in times of tragedy, they also beat together in moments of good fortune. There was such joy on this side of the border when Pakistan won the T20 World Cup six months ago it was the next best thing to an Indian victory . The fact that they triumphed in the face of enormous odds a country under siege, a team that had little time to prepare made S N O T E their victory all the more poignant. There are so many ties that bind us together social, cultural, civilisational, familial, and above all, emotional and so many common interests: Pakistans love for Bollywood and Hindi TV soaps has to be seen to be believed; equally , theres deep admiration and respect in India for the great poets, writers and musicians Pakistan has produced. In a recent interview to an international magazine, Bill Clinton said, You have to believe that what we have in common is more important than our differences The context in which he spoke may have been different, but it could just as easily have applied to India and Pakistan. eace needs to be underwritten by politicians; at the same time, its too important to be left solely to them. Nor is it always a linear process: it needs people who are willing to swim against the tide

of conventional wisdom, and it requires the occasional leap of faith. Our efforts can never supplant official government-to-government talks. What we hope to start is a movement that will gradually make its way from the periphery to the centre, a wave of goodwill that will touch the hearts and minds of people on both sides. History shows that even grand, Nobel-winning gestures dont always lead to long-term peace, not unless theyre backed by popular support and sentiment. People need to believe that just as the cost of continued conflict is enormous in terms of its human and economic toll the peace dividend can be huge too. No wonder the two words, peace and prosperity, are so inextricably linked. There is a multiplier effect of peace: in the immediate term, the defence budget can be pared and the money spent on development instead; more importantly, trust leads to trade, and business blossoms in an environment of security and stability. In the long term, the spread of prosperity will hopefully lighten the burden of poverty that drives many young men to violence, for it is often among the ranks of the poor and the disillusioned that extremist groups find ready recruits (if the stories about Kasab are to be believed, it wasnt ideology that first drove him into

What we need is wider and deeper engagement to clear the misconceptions we harbour about each other. Theres an unfortunate notion among some of us that Pakistanis rub their hands in glee every time were struck by terror. Far from it 26/11, in particular, left them shocked and saddened. Just as most Indians are moved to tears by the sight of a father in Lahore or Karachi or Multan cradling the body of a daughter killed by a bomb...
the arms of the LeT; in India too, deprivation has fuelled insurgency).

It is an article of faith with us that the sum of all good must triumph over the sum of all evil because there is so much more good than evil in this world. Evil exists in pockets of darkness, but has a nasty habit of casting a disproportionately long shadow

moil, theres a danger that the region could descend into bloody chaos, even pass fully into the hands of the Taliban. The price of doing nothing is too high to contemplate, for both India and Pakistan. hich is why the leading media groups on either side of the border Jang and The Times of India have chosen to join hands in a peace initiative called Aman ki Asha. (The Jang Group includes Pakistans pre-eminent Urdu newspaper and its second-largest English paper; its also No. 1 in television, thanks to Geo TV , radio and music.) We believe the media can serve as facilitators in fostering greater understanding between people. Unfortunately and TOI cannot entirely escape blame we tend to focus far too much on the negative. In the process, the good that people do is drowned out by the sensational, and by the constant flow of deathand-destruction headlines. Ignorance breeds distrust. What we do not know, we tend not to trust. Decades of Indo-Pak hostility have reduced normal interaction to less than

stable, prosperous Pakistan is in Indias interest as much as it is in Pakistans. Its also perhaps time we tried to look at things from the other side. Its not easy to do, in any relationship be it personal, professional, or between nations. But a genuine attempt at it can lead to greater empathy, understanding and perhaps even a congruence of views. Among the educated middle to upper class in Pakistan, there is admiration for Indias economic achievements. But there is also a certain insecurity of a large and powerful neighbour that has never quite come to terms with what it calls Partition and what Pakistan calls Independence. For many Indians, Jinnah remains a villain; on the other side of the border, hes Quaid-i-Azam (The Great Leader) and father of the nation. Yes, there are differences, but should we let them get in the way of a shared destiny? Must our future remain hostage to our past? We think not. Should the good intentions of hundreds of millions of Indians and Pakistanis be subverted by a few hardliners and radicals? Certainly not. Over the past few months, many of us at The Times of India have had the privilege of meeting some very fine people at the Jang Group, and have made some wonderful friends there. We look forward to deepening this relationship in the months and years to come and spreading the goodwill beyond the confines of our newspapers and TV channels. Remember the words of John Lennons peace anthem, Imagine? You may say Im a dreamer/But Im not the only one/I hope someday youll join us Wed like to believe there are many more dreamers like us out there and that our dream of India and Pakistan living in harmony will come true. From all of us here, we wish our friends in Pakistan a peaceful and prosperous new decade.

Aman ki Asha

P2&8

The Idea...
The two leading media houses of India and Pakistan (The Times of India and the Jang Group) have come together to develop a stronger Track II in our diplomatic and cultural relations

THREE WAYS TO TRACK II: CULTURAL, ECONOMIC AND CITIZENS INTERACTIONS


AS PART OF CULTURAL EXCHANGES, THERE WILL BE: TRADE & ECONOMIC COOPERATION:
To be activated through an annual trade meet between the two countries on a scale larger than ever before, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry. The inaugural meet is planned for Karachi in Feb 2010. The event includes: Exploration of the key areas of opportunity, and the policy changes needed to exploit those areas Industry-specific discussions, with top administration people/industrialists from India and Pakistan pitching the business opportunities in their respective sectors One-to-one meetings between businessmen, etc

Music Festival in India


Date Day City Artistes Venues

Jan 16 Jan 17 Jan 19 Jan 22 Jan 23 Jan 24

Saturday Sunday Tuesday Friday Saturday Sunday

Delhi Mumbai Kolkata Hyderabad Bangalore

Kailash Kher/ Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Shubha Mudgal/ Abida Parveen Euphoria/ Strings Baul Singers/ Arif Lohar Hariharan/ Ghulam Ali

Purana Qila Andheri Sports Complex Nicco Park Chowmahalla Palace Jai Mahal Palace Vastrapur Lake

What it aims to do
Aman ki Asha: Destination Peace looks beyond the confines of a 62-year-old boundary issue to the primal bonds that tie together the people of both countries. It does not, in any way, trivialise the very real areas of difference that exist between the neighbours; it just recognises that we cant remain hostage to those differences forever and seeks to add a new dimension to the relationship

Ahmedabad Wadali Brothers/ Abu Mohd & Group

CITIZENS INTERACTIONS:
Launch of a mega people-to-people activity where thousands of schoolchildren across India will reach out to their counterparts in Pakistan sending messages of peace, love and harmony. 25 winners of the best messages will go on exchange visits to live in each others homes (Details will be announced shortly in The Times of India)
In addition, both the Times group and the Jang group will enhance coverage to include facets of life, economy and culture all the stuff that often gets left out in the hurly burly of spot news. Readers on both sides of the border can look forward to a new window opening, one which will add to the appreciation of the other

Shubha Mudgal

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Palash Sen (Euphoria)

Hariharan

Wadali Brothers

Kailash Kher

LITERARY FESTIVAL in India

To be organised in the last week of January-early Feb in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow and Pune. It will cover fiction/non-fiction books, poetry, short stories and humour/hasya (Details will be announced shortly in THE TIMES OF INDIA)