Indo-Pak peace meet began in Delhi on 10th January 2010 with great enthusiasm.Aitzaz Ahsan, Iqbal Haider, Hisal Bijenjo like eminent personalities from Pakistan came all the way to participate in the event. I could not attend inaugural programme,but attended afternoon discussion and book launch programme in the evening at India Islamic center, close to India International centre,where the main function is being held for three days.In the afternoon session discussion, posed the issue of Bradlaugh Hall preservation to Iqbal Haider, who in turn referred it to Aitzaz Ahsan, who agreed that this historic building should be preserved. In book launch session-‘Bridging Partition’-edited by late Smitu Kothari and Zia Mian, alongwith Kamla Bhasin, A.H.Nayar and Mohammad Tehseen was released by Kuldip Nayar and Aitzaz Ahsan jointly.While Kuldip Nayar spoke about the book and the need to stop Wagah border evening hate parade on both sides,Aitzaz Ahsan made the evening livelier by reciting first Amrita Pritam partition poem ‘Aj Aakhan Waris Sha nun…’ almost completely, referring to Punjabi film Kartar Singh, Manto’s prosecution in early fifties and finally at audience demand his own recent poem-‘Kal Aaj aur Kal’.Though I heard this poem on you tube linked on facebook by some friend,yet listening to poet directly was fantastic experience.The way Aitzaz Sahib made the use of Hindi words in his nazm like-Jivan,Dharm,Devi, Sundar sapna,etc. that was marvelous.This is the kind of Hindostani language, which we are struggling for in India.Meeting all these people at tea time was also very pleasant,met Madeeha Gauhar and Tehseen too.The book having 21 essays from eminent personalities, including Mubashir Rehman, I.A.Rehman, Kuldip Nayar,Asma Jahangir,Beena Sarwar(On women’s role in Building peace),Parvez Hoodbhoy etc. seems to be good collection,published by Orient Blackswan, though priced a bit high.It was a pleasant evening.
On second day, I could not attend first and second session, in which I learnt later that Kashmiri Pandits in the audience disturbed Yaseen Malik presentation and there was unpleasant scenes.But the afternoon session, in which Vandana Shiva,Dr. Abid Suleri,Farooq Tariq spoke on climate change,chaired competently by Lalita Ramdas, went on very well.Vandana and Tariq spoke forcefully.Outside met Ayesha Sidiqa and Kuldip Nayar discussing many aspects of peace process,Ayesha feeling little less enthused by the results.Presented my leftword publication on Bhagat Singh-‘Jail Notebook and Other Writings’ to Aitzaz Ahsan.
On third and final day of meet I could attend two session.In first session, Ayesha Sidiqa, Rajiv Sikri and Asma Jahangir made presentations.Asma was at her oratorial best,she spoke with passion and reason both.Ayesha seemed to be bit pessimistic as per audience response, as I could not listen her.But I had heard talking to Kuldip Nayar and knew her views, which have a grain of salt, no doubt,yet one have to speak for peace like Asma in spite of worse circumstances.I intervened to say that both Indian and pakistani state should follow their respective icons-Gandhi and Jinnah in matters of Indo-Pak relations,both wanted friendly and brotherly relations between two countries.I appreciated gandhi for his fairness on demanding payment of 55 crore rupees due to Pakistan as partition liabilities, for which he paid with his life, getting short by Hindu fundamentalist.In session on media and culture, chaired by ‘Kashmir Times’editor Ved Bhasin, Murlidhar Reddy of ‘The Hindu’,Liaqat Ali Toor of APP,Mahesh Bhatt and Madeeha Gauhar all spoke very well,Kuldip Nayar came later and added his comments.Everyone blasted media for blowing up tensions among two countries.From audience Seema mustafa also exposed Govt. duplicity on media.I put question to Madeeha that what happened to Ajoka planned joint play festival on Bhagat Singh? Also suggested that India, pakistan and Bangladesh should jointly strive to make Hindi-Urdu or Hindostani and Bangla ,2nd and seventh largest spoken languages of the world ,to make as two more official languages at UNO.Madeeha in this session made loud protest over her play Bulla not being planned to be staged by organisers.Even after Seema Mustafa clarification, she created commotion among audience by her unreasonable arguments,getting media to have another negative story on the event.
I could not attend the last session, but it seems it went on well.On the whole a very positive event.Some photographs for viewing.