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Calendar based on artwork by India, Pak schoolchildren

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Schoolchildren from India and Pakistan attempt to explain their idea of peace between the two neighbouring countries through paintings, a medium which enables one to speak without words.

Six paintings by schoolchildren in India and six from their Pakistani counterparts have been chosen for this year's Indo-Pak Peace calendar, scheduled to be brought out here on January 10 and in Pakistan four days later.

The calendar, presently in its fourth edition, is a joint initiative between non-government organisations of both countries that have come together to form Aaghaz-e-Dosti.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti, which means 'A Start of Friendship' started, led and managed by a dedicated team of youths from both the countries has currently its presence in Bengaluru, Dehradun, Meerut, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Dehradun and Vadodara in India besides Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Toba Tek Singh.

"The group, which also carries out other initiatives like 'Aman Chaupals', letter exchanges and workshops - operates through a core team of some 14-15 members together in the two countries," says Aaghaz-e-Dosti founder Ravi Nitesh.

"The team invites paintings from schoolchildren, whose interest in the initiative has increased over the years," Nitesh told PTI adding that a total of 300 children had sent in their entries this year.

The team also invites messages from 12 (6 from India and 6 from Pakistan) eminent persons working on Indo-Pak peace. After selection of paintings by a jury, Indian paintings with messages of Pakistani peace activists and vice-versa get the form of a calendar.

This year, the group has collaborated with "Zeal for Unity," which brings together 12 film makers from the two countries to showcase their work on a single platform and facilitate an apolitical exchange environment to strive for peace and harmony, organisers said.

The directors include Ketan Mehta (Toba Tek Singh), Sabiha Sumar (Chotay Shah), Aparna Sen (Saari Raat), Meenu and Farjad (Jeewan Hathi),Tigmanshu Dhulia (Baarish Aur Chowmein), Khalid Ahmad (Laloolal.Com), Tanuja Chandra (Silvat), Mehreen Jabbar (Lala Begum), Nikhil Advani (Guddu Ingiineer), Shahbaz Sumar (Khaemae Mein Mutt Jhankain), Bejoy Nambiar (Dobaara) and Siraj-ul-Haque (Mohabbat Ki Aakhri Kahaani).

Nitesh, an engineer by profession, points out that all the people involved in the initiative were working for free.

"With the enthusiasm that people are showing for this event, the reach of these calendars are increasing day by day that reflects message of 365 days of peace," he added.

When asked if such an initiative could provide hope to the bilateral ties that has often witnessed turbulence, especially following the recent Pathankot air base terror attack, Nitesh said "such initiatives become all the more necessary".

"The message that comes across is that peace should be sustained. Not letting the peace process derail will only be a befitting reply to such elements," he said.

First Published: Fri, January 08 2016. 14:42 IST