This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rai Ghulam Mustafa. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Can An Indian And Pakistani Be Friends? This Story Tells Us Something Important

By Rai Ghulam Mustafa:

Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force personnel take part in the daily flag lowering ceremony at their joint border post of Wagah near Lahore January 10 , 2007. On Saturday, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee is due in Islamabad for another round of talks in a peace process that has yet to yield substantial results, but it has at least ushered in a no-war phase in relations. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN) - RTR1L45Z
Source: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

On both sides of steel gates dividing the two nations and amidst chanting crowds, hurling emotions and drumbeating boots, patriots refueled their nationalism. Unaware, they engraved the hard and bloody line of control further. Tremors of which can frighten their succeeding generations. Living and celebrating different national realities are justified, however only without demeaning the other. What occurred in 1947 was meant for a new beginning, not to create the Indo-Pak conflict, but to prevent it.

After graduating from Oxford, Anjali returned to India. With her, rode back a bundle of memories tied together by a ribbon. From classrooms to summer balls, grocery to boxing-day sales, homesickness to the first taste of freedom, it knotted her emotions and experiences. Having them scattered, she was now looking for this ribbon.

Searching through the gaps in firm gates at Wagah border, she was filled with both blues of separation and joys of reconnecting. She was anxiously looking for that ribbon, her best friend at Oxford, a Pakistani, Maria.

Maria went to the same program as Anjali. Similarly for her, Anjali held the brush painting her memories at Oxford. Sharing strong cultural ties, she found in Anjali her own reflection, a home away from home. Together, they formed an unfenced tale of Indo-Pak friendship.

Longing to get her glimpse, on the other side, Maria was surrounded by passionately hurled patriotic slogans. As she spotted Anjali, she rushed towards the gate and waved at her. “O’ girl why are you waving at her? She’s a non-Muslim,” smirked a nearby old aged man dressed in a green flag-themed turban. Realising it was not Oxford, Maria registered this remark. The irony of his words stung her. “Anjali is one of the most spiritual persons I have met in my life, so what if she is a non-Muslim,” she wanted to spit back. The bloodshed of 1947 still haunts us. Religious oppression and reactions of that time on both sides continue to cultivate this hatred. Believers of coexistence, however being few, must counter propagandists of religious animosity.

As Maria unblocked external ideological barriers and walked towards the fence, Anjali located her. With delight, she called her name out loud and waved back frantically. “Don’t wave at her, get a visa instead,” slapped the Indian border security personnel at her. Undoubtedly, expectation of love and politeness from soldiers whose history is filled with blood and sacrifices is an excessive ask. Their training carves the other’s country as a significant potential threat. But Anjali persisted, “No law prevents me from waving at her. Eyes don’t require a visa. They can look beyond borders.” She continued waving rapturously. Anjali and Maria shared heart-stopping glances amidst crowds of people who would not understand their bond.

Support of hate by an overwhelming civilian majority in both India and Pakistan is disappointing. Their governments, in lieu of power continuity, do not abstain from playing a loss-loss strategy. Despite being aware, they have led various proxy wars and caused instability across their borders. If Anjali and Maria could develop such a bond at Oxford, at least Modi and Sharif must lay foundations of a national resolve in their own countries. Only regular cultural exchange supported by official policy can synchronize both societies. Anything schematic and one-off will be glitzy but never long term. Initiatives like cricket diplomacy can no longer bridge the existing and unfortunately widening gaps.

However, with widespread poverty and manipulated mindsets in both countries, this must be gradual and under sheer caution. Complete defencing for trade and cultural exchange in the presence of ideological fencing can suspend cooperation for years, for instance by a terrorist act. Setting up of necessary security measures and intelligence sharing mechanism must receive priority.

Anjali believes, “Separation is a reality. Getting to know Pakistan through a loving Maria was never a surprise. Instead, I saw my expectation. I get saddened at Indians and Pakistanis taking pre-dispositions of animosity and ending up constraining their gained independence.” Such perceptions continue to shut the 1,800 miles long border. However, with education and development, tolerant and progressive societies can help nurture a peaceful and sustainable Indo-Pak relationship.

To India, as it held the majority, Pakistan broke away. To Pakistan, it gained independence. Maria admits, “I can be emotional about our forefathers’ sacrifices. But I must not raise another generation for remembering our sacrifices. Instead, to them, peace should be nothing novel.”

With Modi’s unofficial landing at Sharif’s home in Lahore and revival of talks, there is hope. But Pathankot terrorist act and alleged arrest of RAW agent happened too. People on both sides deserve more than just another short throttle at friendship. Something similar to what Anjali and Maria shared, a peaceful and sustainable coexistence.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

You must be to comment.

More from Rai Ghulam Mustafa

Similar Posts

By shakeel ahmad

By shakeel ahmad

By Zakir Ali Tyagi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below