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Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)
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India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005


Speeches, essays, and poems presented at India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005, organized by the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia, on August 7, at Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA



*Peace Between India & Pakistan: The Power of the People
By Yudhishthir Patel
*Peace Between India and Pakistan: Recent Developments
By Monika Arora
*Peace Between India & Pakistan: On the Foundation of Shared Heritage
By Sarah Siddiqui
*Peace Between India & Pakistan: Why Now
By Shivani Joshi
*Peace Between India & Pakistan: Should Children Be Concerned?
By Susmita Awasthi


*Your Home, My Home
By Shilpa Prem
*India and Pakistan
By Gulzar Ahmed


*Peace Between India & Pakistan: The Power of the People

Yudhi Patel addressing the audienceYudhishthir Patel

Yudhishthir Patel has an engineering degree from IIT and an MBA from UCLA. His work has been in the field of Operations Management and Sourcing products from Asia. He is currently a Sr. Director at Nike. He has traveled extensively around the world and enjoys meeting people from different cultures.

What different avenues do we have as citizens of South Asia to exercise our power and overcome political divisions?

In the spirit of expanding the people to people contact between the two countries, let’s look at how the four different attributes can be utilized to power the improving relationship between the two countries.

Power of Sports

The elegance of a square cut in cricket does not have a nationality. Can we learn to appreciate like true sportsman, the joy of watching teams from both countries compete in Cricket, Hockey and other sports? Sports have been known to be a bridge between cultures. Here we are talking about bridging a pseudo common culture.

Power of Music

For generations the Sufi poets of Kashmir have sung melodies, which touch the heartstrings of many a romantic. Classical music of both India and Pakistan have similar origins, and cross border concerts may one day be more common than cross border terrorism. Contemporary music also appeals to many a music lover in both countries. Lets sing our way into each other’s hearts.

Power of Art and Culture

The Indus Valley civilization, and Taxila are all examples of a common culture centuries ago. The way our ancestors lived, worked and entertained themselves was similar. The
spring festivals to celebrate a bountiful harvest, and the dancing with joy, which accompanied a newly wed groom are all examples of a bond that we share for more than a Millennium. Lets recreate that bond.

Power of Cuisine

The delicious mouth watering mughlai cuisine, the tikka's and samosas and the breads made fresh on the tandoor are proof of our common food habits. Examples of Indian visitors being treated to hot jalebis in Lahore and the merchants refusing to take any money, saying that the Indians are guests in our country are gestures, which transcend political mudslinging. Lets serve food to warm our hearts towards each other.

*Peace Between India and Pakistan: Recent Developments

Monika Arora reading her essayMonika Arora

Monika Arora is a student of Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. She has been very active in the Portland community for many years, and has served on the Board of India Cultural Association

Imagine trying to walk with just your right leg. How far would you get? Now try walking with just your left leg. Did you get much farther? My guess would be probably not. This time use both legs. You will suddenly be able to reach places you weren’t able to reach before and the possibilities become endless.

India and Pakistan are two important legs of the South Asian subcontinent. Each country is unique and quite capable in its own regard; however, if they set aside their differences, and choose to walk together, the sky is the limit in what can be achieved. India and Pakistan share a rich heritage, similarities in culture, and many common goals

Since the partition in 1947, India and Pakistan have been working towards overcoming their differences by enhancing the cooperation between the two countries, and today I will just touch on some of the latest developments. Recently, India has conveyed to Pakistan its willingness to permit export of cattle, vegetables and other perishable items through the Wagah border. Both countries will benefit economically with this type of agreement.

Also, in the midst of increased demand for visas from Pakistani patients wanting to undergo medical treatment in India, the Indian High Commission recently announced that it will be setting up a special counter in its premises to give “medical visas.” This would allow Pakistanis to benefit from the cheaper treatment and high level of expertise available in India. As a result, India would benefit from the increase in consumers of Indian services.

These steps are just a few of the plans already being discussed. For the next round of bilateral discussions, India and Pakistan have identified many areas for enhanced economic cooperation to improve relations through confidence building measures. Near the top of the list are closer cooperation in telecom, shipping, and aviation.

Also being explored is the possibility of one country setting up branches of its nationalized banks in the other country, and the establishment of a natural gas pipeline from Iran to both countries. These are just a few of the many talks currently underway.

It is apparent from these examples that both countries benefit from walking together. If they continue along this path, India and Pakistan will come closer to achieving the ultimate goal of peace and harmony. And by working together, these two neighboring countries have the potential to become an even stronger force in the global community.

*Peace Between India & Pakistan: On the Foundation of Shared Heritage

Sarah Siddiqui presenting her essaySarah Siddiqui

Sarah Siddiqui recently graduated from Tualatin High School and is going to Orange County in California to attend UC Irvine

I want to thank you all for coming here today to spend a very special day together. Today is a day we can say that the people from India and Pakistan are all one. Our culture, outfits, traditions and cuisine are all very much alike.

But in addition to common culture and traditions, our ancestors left us beautiful landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, Lal Khilla, Kutubminar, Shahi Masjid, Shahi Khilla and Jahangir’s tomb.

These landmarks are our identity and it is our duty as Indians and Pakistanis to protect and preserve these symbols together. It is very important to say that my generation of young adults and the generation after mine should explore ways to bridge the gap between India and Pakistan and understand the culture and heritage both countries share together.

Let’s say a person has traveled through India and Pakistan, he or she will notice all of the similarities both countries have in common. Such as, how we dress, what we eat, how we celebrate holidays, weddings, how we share similar languages and how our entertainment is even similar, such as music and movies.

Since India and Pakistan have so much in common, why not use all of these attributes to bring both of these great countries together as one. Although there maybe religious and political differences between both countries, that should not influence or come in between our goals in bringing peace and happiness between India and Pakistan and it’s people.

So instead of focusing on our differences between India and Pakistan, lets concentrate our energies on what we have in common, because what we have in common in the bond that will hold us and bring us together.

*Peace Between India & Pakistan: Why Now

Shivani Joshi reading her essayShivani Joshi

Shivani Joshi is a sophomore at Westview High School. A disciple of Sivigami Vanka and she has done her Bharata Natya arangetram. She learns Hindustani vocal music from her mother, Dr. Nisha Joshi, and plays tennis for her school team.

What does war solve? In the Mahabharat the Kauravas and Pandavas fought because the Dhuriyodhan felt he was the rightful successor to the throne of the king of Hastinapur. The Kaurav son, his brother, and his uncle were jealous that everyone saw Yudhishter as the equitable heir, so Dhuriyodhan decided to have a war against the Pandava brothers, his cousins. This was the war of Dharma, or truth. In the end the Pandavas won the war, but they had to kill all their cousins, uncles, and teachers. Because of Dhuriyodhan’s stubbornness of not letting his oldest cousin be the ruler, he had to pay the price by getting killed in the end.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” It is true. If you take away something for revenge you hurt not only them, but also many more people.

So what does war solve? Why don’t we just keep peace? I know that peace solves quite a bit without harming anyone. To me, the definition of the powerful word, “peace” is “the abstinence of war.” To me, it also means, music and a state of tranquility where everything flourishes!

If one glances at the last 3000 years of undivided Indian history, people from all over the world have come and invaded, captured lands, conquered minds. From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted, took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, and their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others, because we love peace and because it is peace which makes everyone happy!

The peace between Pakistan and India, why now? Do we now realize that we are not different from each other? I know that we respect each other. I am thankful, and it is important for there to be peace between India and Pakistan, for we were one together, and the whole world can stay one as a whole.

Peace does not happen overnight. It needs to be nurtured by first and foremost respecting each other and their opinion, and that help us to coexist.

*Peace Between India & Pakistan: Should Children Be Concerned?

Susmit Awasthi was the co-MCSusmita Awasthi

Susmita Awasthi is a sophomore at Westview High School. Her hobbies include karate, music, dance & literature.

Imagine. The youth we see today, the children who are playing with little cars, fire trucks, hide-and-seek. Little can they understand of the lethal conflicts that India and Pakistan have been drowned in. Very few will search for the source of these issues and many will mostly side with the bias of their own nation. The question is, however. Should Children be Concerned? Yes. But the truth says that Children are not involved nearly enough in fixing these issues. Firstly, this problem needs to be addressed. Then, what effect does this give on the situation? And lastly, what can WE do to better this situation?

The future, the next generation, has more power in their hands than any others. From a very young age now, the Average Kid is exposed to foods, cultures, and lifestyles of different countries. However, the political issues of one's own nation are underrated.

Children are not pressured enough to be AWARE - to know the conflicts which are hurting India and Pakistan. Parents, and elders, who bring up a child, are forgetting to realize that they hold the future in their hands. The way of thinking that Elders believe is a pure reflection on their children. These children will not be able to make a difference in our world if their mindset is not developed more openly, or to be more peaceful.

Surely, the effect of such a dramatic problem would be further uprising of hate, killings, and disturbance. The political aspects of India and Pakistan are trying to overcome these struggles. By poisoning a child's mind into supporting the pessimism, would be to ruin all efforts of ever becoming a peaceful nation. It is needless to say that the issues of these powerful nations have become a worldwide problem due to globalization. We cannot stand to hurt other nations dependent on us, due to the hate that we hold within ourselves. No matter how hard it is, forgiveness is the greatest path which makes You the greatest person.

The circle of life dictates that we will not be here tomorrow. Our bodies will be gone. However, our ideas and thoughts will remain to stay alive, through our children. Just as our values and beliefs will be passed on to our youth, so are our opinions. Therefore, to fix these issues, we need our youth to be AWARE. Modern technology is rising to its peak, where telecommunication and knowledge of the world is a matter of a click on the Internet. Children should be pushed to explore their surroundings and to be knowledgeable of what THEY can do. Keep telling the youth that even THEY can do the impossible; THEY are the key to the future, and they are the generation who will bring peace to our motherlands. Possibly, join organizations, and keep attending social events like this one to broaden their minds as well as yours.

Imagine. The children playing with little cars today will one day become the solution to acceptance, harmony, and peace.


*Your Home, My Home

Shilpa PremShilpa Prem

Shilpa Prem is a senior at Oregon State University and loves to write poetry.

Fifty-eight years ago
The British had finally let go
The break of a country disguised as being "free"
Had burst into a sudden chaotic insanity.

The fear that was present in the eyes of the average man
Simmered down to the children and landed right in their hand.

Partition was a resolution where people felt "saved"
But in actuality it was peace and harmony people craved.

What is it that divides your home from my home?

Did we have different Rajas whose palaces were made of chrome?

Do I apparently look different than you do?
Do I only wear red, while you only wear blue?

Yes a tall giant stands between you and I.
The striking, majestic shadow as it inspires the lonely eye.

A mountain of fear stands between us as you can see
The question is, what mountain can’t be climbed between u and me?

People look at the border as a standing wall
Where a sign can be written as "do not enter, or you will fall"

From one end I will climb, from the other you will

We will meet at the very top and look around with a sudden thrill.

On one side you will see small girls playing with boys
Where the utter innocence will be displayed when fights will be over toys

On the other side you will witness the tears of a father
Where he will give away his most precious creation, his own beautiful daughter

On one side you will see the busy streets of Lahore
Where people will walk the streets with the one that they adore.

On the other side you will see the busy streets of Amritsar,
Where the children get excited, as Diwali time gets closer.

Your faith may lie in the hands of Allah
My faith may lie in the hands of Brahma

You and I may stand in a crowd and look up at the sky
You and I share the same feeling when we feel we want to cry.

The border that stands between you and I
Resembles nothing but a clear-cut, fictionous lie.
The fact is you and I are humans of this race
Where when we both look in a mirror, we see the same face.

Pakistan, India, India, Pakistan
I may read the Gita, and you may read the Koran.
Peace between us is here to stay
Our children need to see far more than just this day.

        *India And Pakistan

Gulzar Ahmed reciting a poem        Gulzar Ahmed

        This poem is for hope
                This poem is for peace
        To listen and to understand
                To comfort and to ease
        This poem is to help
                To heal the wounds of past
        This poem is to proclaim
                We understand at last

        That we’ll fight animosity.
                Until it’s all gone
        This poem is for people,
                Of India and Pakistan

        We have seen many killings
                We have seen so much pain
        Hateful propaganda
                Cruelty and disdain
        To uphold nationalism
                We justified lying
        For blinded self righteousness
                We kept on vilifying

        Now this desecration,
                Can’t continue to go on
        We must uplift the honor,
                Of India and Pakistan

        There is so much in common
                We share in so many ways
        We celebrate together
                Our independence days
        Language, food, and culture
                Our shared history
        We are moving forward
                With a common destiny

        We must have love and wisdom,
                As we continue to move on
        Let’s work for the future,
                Of India and Pakistan

        There are common enemies
                We have common foes
        As we start to think about
                It’s not too hard to know
        Real enemies are the poverty,
                Disease, and hunger we face
        From Kashmir, Pakistan, and India
                To Nepal and Bangladesh

        We must fight together,
                These enemies head-on
        Let’s cooperate for the betterment,
                Of India and Pakistan

        In the darkness of the night
                I see a ray of light
        This light is full of hope
                And it continues to be bright
        This light has a promise
                Of a brighter community
        We must forget our differences
                And seize this opportunity

        Let’s join our hands in prayer,
                For this new and beautiful dawn
        Get ready for a new tomorrow,
                For India and Pakistan