By Nasima Karim – Member Aaghaz-e-Dosti Kyrgyz Chapter
Birds are free to fly across borders. Why can’t we?’, ‘We want peace for development’, ‘Peace between India and Pakistan is essential for South Asia and the entire world’, several such expressions are drawn in paintings of school students from India and Pakistan. With these thought-provoking expressions through paintings, Aaghaz-e-Dosti is all set to launch an Indo-Pak Peace Calendar this Saturday February 18, 2017 in Kyrgyz Republic. This will be the 5th year of Peace Calendar by this cross border peace group that says itself ‘Aaghaz-e-Dosti’ (beginning of friendship). Group is started, led and managed by a dedicated team of youths from India and Pakistan and presently have more than 14 state/city chapters in India and Pakistan, chapter in Estonia, Dubai and Kyrgyz Republic.
These peace calendars have 12 selected paintings (6 from India and Pakistan each) which were selected from hundreds of paintings received by Aaghaz-e-Dosti this year. Every year, Aaghaz-e-Dosti announce to invite paintings from school students in India and Pakistan on ‘Indo-Pak Friendship’ theme. The team also invites messages from 12 (6 from India and 6 from Pakistan) eminent persons working on Indo-Pak peace. After selection of paintings by jury, Indian painting with message of Pakistani peace activist and vise-versa get form of a calendar by 12 such pages i.e. one for each month and these calendars are released with a discussion ‘Sharing of Hopes for Peaceful Co-existence’ in India and Pakistan every year.
This year, we had got tremendous participation in our competition for paintings from youths of both the countries. From Pakistan, we received paintings from Balochistan, Karachi, Lahore, Rahim Yar Khan and Toba Tek Singh district. From India, we received paintings from Anupshehr (UP), Cuttack (Orissa), Dehradun (Uttarakhand), Delhi, Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), Kolkata (West Bengal), Lucknow (UP), Mumbai (Maharashtra), Surat (Gujarat) and Vadodara (Gujarat). We also received a painting from an Indian student studying in Oman. All the paintings were beautiful and valuable.
This year’s calendar has already been launched in different cities in India: Dehradun, Delhi, Mumbai and Panipat and in Pakistan: Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Toba Tek Singh. The Calendar is also scheduled to be launched in three other cities in India – Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Kolkata. This is the first time in Aaghaz-e-Dosti history that we are launching our calendar outside Indo-Pak Internationally in Kyrgyz Republic this Saturday 18 Feb 2017.
With the enthusiasm that people are showing for this event, the reach of these calendars are increasing day by day that reflects message of 365 days of peace.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is not just limited to the peace calendar but has been working since 5 years now through various peace education activities that includes AmanChaupals (interactive sessions with an Indian in a Pakistani school and vice versa), Peace Workshops, an 8-week virtual peace building course called Friends Beyond Borders, seminars and discussions, letter and greeting card exchanges between school students in India and Pakistan etc, through advocacy on peace issues, writing articles on Indo-Pak issue by AeD members. The activities of AeD are well recognized by people, government and media of India and Pakistan. AeD has been felicitated with several prestigious awards.