In conversation with: Ravi Nitesh - the man behind Indo-Pak peace initiative Aaghaz-e-Dosti
Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net
New Delhi, Jan 11: Aaghaz-e-Dosti is a civil initiative of some young men and women from India and Pakistan. Launched in 2012, Aaghaz-e-Dosti has been striving for promotion of peaceful relations between the two South Asian neighbours and people to people contacts. On the sidelines of its 4th annual event for launching Indo-Pak Peace Calendar at India Islamic Cultural Centre here on Sunday (10th Jan 2016), IndiaTomorrow.net had a chat with Ravi Nitesh, the brain behind Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
Excerpts from Interview:
Why and when did you launch Aaghaz-e-Dosti initiative?
Aaghaz-e-Dosti has been in our hearts for long. We had been continuously working for communal harmony, peace and human rights. In between, we had been raising our voice for peaceful relations between India and Pakistan - even from our college days. As we got matured we learned about the problem and conflict. First we started working on the subject slowly. But when we got a youth group in Pakistan which was also working on the same issue there - and we had already launched Aaghaz-e-Dosti here - we contacted that Pakistani group and thus we formed a collaboration of the two groups. Aaghaz-e-Dosti has been regularly working since 2012.
Whenever India or Pakistan takes a major step for peace and strengthening their bilateral relations, an incident happens and it hampers the peace initiative?
The anti-peace forces and those who do not like peace and anti-social elements - these people always try to barricade any effort for peace and good relations. Whenever such peace initiative is taken such incidents happen. But I am of the view that we should not come under the pressure of such bad events and stop our peace efforts. Rather, the most befitting reply to anti-peace attempts is to accelerate peace efforts. When dialogues for peace will resume and peace is maintained such forces will disappear.
What are the threats to peaceful and good relations between India and Pakistan?
First, there are some extremists who do not want friendship between the two countries. Besides, there is defence corporate which deals in arms. Only those people will damage peace process who get benefit from clash. Conflict has become a sort of business. We all know from which country India and Pakistan purchase arms. It is shameful that both countries purchase arms from the same country and fight with each other. It is obvious that clash is not benefiting India or Pakistan but the third country which sells arms to them.
A week after Pathankot incident, you are holding Indo-Pak peace event here at India Islamic Cultural Centre. What is the aim of this program?
Our Indo-Pak peace event is our regular annual event which we hold. But we are hurt by the Pathankot incident. Yet, we have invested our more efforts in this program and intensively advertised for this event among people and through social media. We are glad that we got huge positive response from people for this program. More than our expectation, people are coming to the event. We ran a trend #AghazeDosti on Twitter day before yesterday and beyond our expectation, it was top trend both in India and Pakistan for full 13 hours. It means people from both countries want peace. If they can make peace a trend it means there is peace in their heart. This program is also a warning to all who always want to disturb such program. We want to tell them that whenever they will make any such attempt we will hold such program ten times more and we will show them that people from India and Pakistan do not like such attempt.
If people from both countries want peace then what measures should the two governments take to promote people to people relations?
People to people relation is very weak in all sectors. Both countries need to make some precautions and launch some provisions. Take visa issue for example. India and Pakistan are the only country in the world which allot city-specific visa. Only these two countries are not partner in telecommunications. Cell phones of international roaming do not work here. When you stop people from meeting people, when you do not allow TV programs, when people will not meet how will they know each other? And when they will not know each other they won't identify each other and peace process will not move forward.