A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Take a good look at the two girls above. Does it look to you like one is Pakistani and the other is Indian? To me they look like a pair of good friends.
Ruba and I, hailing from Pakistan and India, joke around, cook together and gossip just like other people do with their friends. Ruba being Pakistani didn’t make me immediately feel prejudice towards her. To me, she’s the awesome cool chick with whom I stuff my face with Hindustani food. Also, my Pakistani neighbors, who always invited me over for dinner and to whom I, just like to my mom and aunts, always looked underfed to (it’s a South Asian thing: You always look starved to the elders which is their excuse when they overload your plate).I’ve promised them I’ll come over more often next semester. Kashmir doesn’t seem like a thorn that drives us apart, it is indeed something we do have heated arguments about (I’ve even been dubbed a “radical nationalist” by one of my lovely Pakistani friends) but not something we fall out over. I think we’re more likely to not talk to each other after an India-Pakistan cricket match.
Why, after decades of fighting over Kashmir, the two countries have yet to reach a solution? Kashmir has been an ongoing source of conflictbetween India and Pakistan for decades now. We’ve had scores of politicians come and go, trying to sort out the issue between the two countries, but so far to no avail. Peace between the two countries is the need of the hour.
However, one such project: Aman ki asha which translates into ‘Hope for peace’ has tried to re-connect people across the borders in a different way. Suggestion: In difference to previous failed attempts, this project relies on cultural aspect and the people itself rather than politics. (They count more on culture and the people themselves rather than politics, which has failed many times over)
If you scour through the Aman Ki Asha’s website you will come across stories of cross-border friendships (Friendship without borders), of concerts being held with musicians from India perform in Pakistan and vice versa, woes of cross-border couples, and so much more. What we need is more initiatives, not just by organizations such as Aman Ki Asha, but also by the government. We are not completely helpless, are we? Come on, we are the world’s largest democracy and if there is something we all want, in this case: peace, then we shouldn’t be afraid to demand it from the government.
On the eve of India’s Independence Day I urge you all, not just Indians and Pakistanis, to look at one another as a human being with their own set of traditions and culture, and not which nationality the other person is from. Try to understand one another based on your individual habits (characteristics?). Also, when striving for world peace we should start small, in our neighborhoods and then go on to the world.
Here’s a short movie on ‘friends across the border’. I’d be lying if I said that getting visas for cross-border visits are easy but this short clip would be the ideal situation.
I someday hope to bring about peace between the two countries. I know I won’t be able to do it alone but I am certain, that millions of people will be behind me.