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Friday, July 23, 2010

Aman Ki Asha Peace...Reality or Illusion?? - Cover Story - Us Magazine, The News International

Aman ki asha Peace…Reality or Illusion??

Aman Ki Asha Peace…Reality or Illusion?

By Syed Hamza Asad

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi

‘Aman ki Asha’- an initiative taken by The Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India seems to have created a festive atmosphere between the two nations. The project has so far been successful in promoting tourism, culture and sports activities.

On the political level, a number of meetings have been held. Pakistan has always been the first to extend her hand in friendship but ironically it’s not taken so well from the other side of the line of control. This, of course, makes the layman quite skeptical.

Us today, brings you some of the things that can foster peace under the umbrella of ‘Aman ki Asha’ and also unveils the people who are bent upon trying to sabotage the peace process.

Impact of books…

Jaswanth Singh on Jinnah

One of the most senior political figures of India, Jaswanth Singh, wrote a biography on the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah titled Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence, published on August 17, 2009, in which he claimed that Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru’s centralised policy was responsible for the partition of the subcontinent. Jaswanth Singh had a bout of intellectual honesty and treated Jinnah fairly.

Reaction to the book

Soon after the release of his book, a controversy grasped India and Jaswanth Singh was expelled from the membership of Bharatiya Janata Party for writing a favourable biography on Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His book was banned and his posters were burnt by the Hindu extremists. Jaswanth Singh received hostile criticism from political activists. However, in several interviews, he quoted his opponents as ‘narrow-minded people’ for not accepting the reality. On the question of a ban on his book, he said: “The day we start banning books, we are banning thinking.”

Cross border wedding…

Shoaib weds Sania

One of the most exciting events of the year 2010 was the marriage of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik with Indian tennis star Sania Mirza on April 12, 2010, at a hotel in Hyderabad, India. The union of South Asia’s top sports personalities rekindled the Indo-Pak arch-rivalry and shook the masses of both the countries with a frenzy of outraged patriotism. The Pakistanis claimed that Shoaib-Sania’s wedding is not merely a marriage of a man and woman; rather it’s the marriage of Pakistan with India. Most of the Indians also showed a friendly attitude towards this event.

On the other hand

Always ready to criticise the Indo-Pak peace relations, the far-right Hindu political party, Shiv Sena bitterly opposed the wedding of Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza. Shiv Sena’s leader, Bal Thackeray spewed venom at Sania Mirza for marrying a Pakistani, calling Pakistan ‘an enemy’. “Had Sania’s heart been Indian,” said Thackeray in an editorial written in his party mouthpiece, Saamna, “it wouldn’t have beaten for a Pakistani.” Further, he said that Sania would no longer remain an Indian.

Sports: conduct and controversies

IPL 2010: Pakistani cricketers ignored

After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, the attitude of Indian government towards Pakistan changed drastically. Due to this unpleasant incident, Pakistani cricketers had to face a great setback. Having played tremendously well in the first two seasons of the Indian Premier League, none of the eleven Pakistani players (who were invited for the 3rd IPL auction) was selected by the IPL franchises. It especially came as a shock after their 2009 T20 World Cup victory.

Reaction to action

None of the IPL owners raised voice for the Pakistani cricket team except for the king of Bollywood and the owner of Kolkata Knight Riders team in IPL, Shahrukh Khan. King Khan, who believes that Pakistani cricket team has some of the finest T20 players, told the media: “We hail from a country that accepts different cultures, so whatever happened is very unfortunate.”

However, his stance towards this issue was strictly opposed by the Shiv Sena Party. Once again Thackeray played a negative role. Shiv Sena threatened that Shahrukh’s latest release ‘My Name is Khan’ would not be screened in Mumbai. Moreover, the party officials said: “Let Shahrukh settle in Pakistan; he is not needed in Mumbai.”

Later, a large number of Bollywood biggies like Amitabh Bachan, Amir Khan and director Mahesh Bhatt stood by Khan’s side and supported his stance.

Being Human

On 27 May this year, a celebrity match between the two countries was organised by Bollywood Superstar Salman Khan’s charitable trust, ‘Being Human’ at Dubai City Stadium. Atif Aslam, Salman Khan and Shoaib Akhtar were the most notable amongst the players. This small initiative taken by Salman Khan was a great step towards better relations and ultimately peace.

Play with sportsman’s spirit

‘Peace through sports’ is one of the latest outcomes of Aman Ki Asha. This sensational event was held at the Wagah border on Friday, 26th June 2010 where the torch of the Commonwealth Games 2010, Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR), crossed the border. The gold medalists and Olympians carried the QBR to the zero point on Wagah border which was then handed over to Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab and also the chief guest of the event.

Shortly after the ceremony, a musical event was held in which prominent Pakistani singers like Jawad Ahmad and Najam Sheraz performed national songs while Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed from the other side of the border.

Entertainment

Singers’ act

Some of our Pakistani singers have become the voice of Bollywood. From the time of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the singers of this era, Pakistani singers have scored some great musical numbers across the border. Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are the two most notable singers of Indian cinema these days.

Criticism on Pakistani talent

Atif Aslam is one of the finest musical talents from Pakistan. Having given some of the best hits in recent times to the Indian music industry, he has been criticised by some Indian singers. In several Indian music reality shows, Atif’s voice has been criticised and insulted by judges and performers. Abhijeet, an Indian music director/singer, turned out to be the harshest of all.

Indo-Pak judges in dance show

The former Pakistani cricket star Wasim Akram and Bollywood div

a, Sushmita Sen, judged a dance reality show ‘Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina’ that featured cricket stars and television actresses as contestants.

Actors’ part

A number of Pakistani actors have also been seen lately in Bollywood movies. Javaid Sheikh now seems to be a part of the Indian celluloid as he has done quite a lot of movies on the other side of the border. Besides, Meera and Moammar Rana have appeared in a couple of Bollywood flicks, too. Presently, Ali Zafar’s Tere Bin Laden and Mona Liza’s Kajraare are the latest movies from our neighbours.

Taking it to celluloid

Progressing with the peace process, both countries participated in a joint ventur in movies coming out with Virsa – produced by Jawad Ahmed from Pakistan and Pankaj Batra along with Vikram Kakar from India. The movie featured actors from both sides of the border and was released earlier this year under the banner of Aman ki Asha.

Stand-up for the comedians

Shakeel Siddiqui, a famous Pakistani stage comedian, became the judges’ as well as the audience’s favourite through his performance in Comedy Circus. He was also invited to the grand finale of Salman Khan’s reality show ‘Dus ka Dum’.

Then the attack…

After the unpleasant Mumbai attacks in 2008, many Pakistani professionals were threatened and told to leave India, but what shocked the people on both sides of the line of control was the incident when Shakeel Siddiqui was beaten up by the mob of Shiv Sena party while he was performing in a studio at Mumbai.

Aman ki Asha anthem

The two unique voices – Shankar Mahadevan of India and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan sang an anthem written by the famous Indian poet/lyricist Gulzar, for Aman ki Asha. ‘Nazar mai rehte ho jab tum nazar nahi ate’ holds a spell-bounding power of silent emotion and love between the two nations. The video also featured Amitabh Bachchangiving out the message of peace.

Concerts

Several concerts under Aman ki Asha campaign have been held to promote peace. Lately, we have seen some great combined performances in India…

- Kailash Kher and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s peace performance on January 16 at Purana Quila, Delhi.

- Strings and Euphoria performed on January 20 in Kolkata.

- Abida Perveen and Shubha Mudgal’s Sufiana Kalaam at Bandra fort on January 17.

- Arif Lohar and Parvathy Baul folk songs’ performance on January 22 at Chowmalla Palace, Hyderabad.

- Ghulam Ali and Hariharan’s Ghazal night on January 23 at Bangalore Palace.

Nadia Khan Show at Wagah

One of Nadia Khan’s morning show’s episodes was shot at Wagah border, representing the grand peace and cultural ceremony organised under the same banner.

Imran Khan says…

Peace is a sacred trust and we must strive for it through all possible means. A prosperous Pakistan and India is in the interest of people of all faiths living off Indo-Pak sub-continent. But in order to make that happen, the issues which stymie peace will have to be tackled with an open mind.

The present efforts of spreading the message of peace under the ambit of Aman ki Asha are commendable and only an insane mind would oppose them. Let us not forget that by throwing ashes the smoldering fire underneath can be dulled momentarily but it will never be put out completely. You have to pour water on it for best results. This is certainly not to denigrate the invaluable efforts of peace seekers on both sides of the border of India and Pakistan. Let us first hammer out a solution to the outstanding issues that plague our relations with India. The politicians, the media, the intellectuals and the civil society of this region will have to shed their prejudices and work with an open mind for solving all issues between Pakistan and India if we want to make Aman ki Asha a real success story.