The 21st of September is International Day of Peace. Declared by the UN General Assembly as day which is devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”. For the subcontinent, this is made easier as the three affected countries have so much in common to reflect upon. The religious and traditional values which were used to divide, all have similar ideas of peace and community.
70 years on since the partition of India and Pakistan, we are using International Day of Peace to look at rebuilding and peace initiatives since 1947. We’re focusing on the positive stories which see people come together as neighbours and friends. While political tensions may fluctuate, individuals are able to focus on the plethora of similarities which unite these communities.
Mission Bhartiyan, an Indian-based youth organisation joined with Pakistani group ‘Hum Sab Aik Hai’ (we are all one) to form Aaghaz-e-Dosti (Beginning of Friendship). This initiative met in Chandigarh, where eighteen women from Pakistan attended a peace conference and has made remarkable achievements since its conception.
“Every Indian I interacted with was friendly and warm despite [the] political tensions, divisions and constructed hatred,” – Aliya Harir – Aaghaz-e-Dost Pakistan Convener
This week this initiative closes entries for their sixth painting competition, which is open to Indian and Pakistani students. Entries are based around the subject of peace and feature on a calendar, serving as a daily reminder of ‘shared dreams and hopes’ for friendship and peace. Previous winners share the themes of united roots, building bridges and birds of peace.