Guftagu: An Indo-Pak Peace ProjectSeptember 14th, 2016
“In the lead-up to the 2016 International Day of Peace (IDP) on 21 September, the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) will share success stories of young people in peacebuilding action. CYPAN is encouraging young people to take action on IDP and has issued a guide encouraging youth participation in the campaign. The first story is the Indo-Pak Peace Proposal Campaign by Youth for Peace International (YFPI) from Delhi, India.
“The only way to remove suspicion of the two countries is to start dialogue process.”
Guftagu-Indo-Pak Peace Project is an initiative by Youth for Peace International, in partnership with CYPAN, RedElephant, The Lighthouse Project and Humans of Pakistan. The literal meaning of the word Guftagu is “communication”, and that is the main aim of the project – to start a conversation between two nations that were once together.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex since the partition due to a number of historical and political events. The constant military conflict and the Kashmir issue have been major bones of contention between India and Pakistan since independence. Other issues that exist include water disputes and terrorism. Nevertheless, these two states in South Asia, to some degree, have similar cultures, cuisines and languages, which underpin their historical ties. They even share a common boundary and love for cricket!
Through this project we aim to break the stereotypical notions that exist between the two countries and to create a space for cross-cultural exchange of ideas, experiences, and thoughts. We are also committed to establish peace and stability, starting from ourselves as young people. The campaign energises not only people from both sides but also people from different countries to work for the peace agenda.
The project commenced on 1 August and will continue until 20 September. Presently, we have approximately 300 peace ambassadors, who are are asked to collect stories or instances that depict how both nations are culturally more or less the same. They are asked to reflect and find out how their own culture is significantly influenced by one another, eventually understanding that they are the same people sharing bonds older than the disharmony.
These stories and videos are shared on social media to make people aware of the love that still exists among the people of both nations for their brothers and sisters across the borders. The impact of the campaign has enabled peace ambassadors belonging to Pakistan and India to connect with each other through social media, which has already reduced their false perceptions about each other.
YFPI will continue to partner with CYPAN to carry out routine advocacy and research work with international universities, NGOs and think tanks from India-Pakistan and Europe, along with the UN Co-Chair on Youth and Peace. We have been able to create a strong base of ambassadors from across the world, outside India and Pakistan, due to our association with this network. Our outreach has expanded vastly, especially in many African countries, from being a member of CYPAN. We wish to advocate about our agenda to the entire world and garner continued support for Indo-Pak unity. The support from CYPAN and the Commonwealth Youth Division has bolstered our efforts .
On a final note, there is a growing realisation that war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours is not an option. YFPI will carry on this journey, hoping that many more will sign up for this project for peace. We might be from different places, but we are all the same and should live in peace and love, starting first by communicating. Guftagu.