We provide our alumni with a platform to share their voices on critical issues that impact them. We stand by and support them as they engage each other across lines of conflict and tell their truths to the wider world.
In response to hostilities between Pakistan and India, here are some of these voices, with more being added daily:
Jasir (2011 Pakistani Delegation)
A loss of life is a loss of life: Kashmiri, Pakistani, or Indian. The countries which are still unable to feed their hungry, educate their poor, and shelter their homeless need the rhetoric of war to cover their ugly naked failure to provide their citizen basic amenities.
Aanya (2014 Indian Delegation)
I am a proud Indian. I am a patriotic Indian. I love my country so much. But that means I can acknowledge when my country does something senseless. When my country does something futile, I don’t pray for war. I don’t pray for revenge. I don’t pray for victory. I pray for calm. I pray for peace. I pray for love between two countries that were once one.
Qurat ul Ain (2010 Pakistani Delegation)
While I do believe that both the parties are sensible enough not to start an actual war, there is a lot of unnecessary chest thumping going on, with neither side ready to de-escalate. I’m specially disappointed at the irresponsible journalism on prime time TV with anchors calling for war and revenge. This conflict also comes months before Indian Prime Minister Modi is up for reelection and it seems that this conflict is aggravated by his showmanship.
Japneet (2017 Indian Delegation)
I have been very disturbed by the current atmosphere that prevails in my country and the one it’s fighting. Most reactions to the Pulwama attack came from a place of emotion, asking for revenge. To these people I ask: the soldiers who go to take your revenge, won’t they risk their lives? Is the loss of their lives justified just because they want them to fulfil your desire of “revenge,” which you called for on Instagram while you sat on your bed in front of the TV in the comfort of your home? My stomach churns when I think of the fate of the poor pilot, just for getting your revenge.
Make no mistake, I stand in solidarity with the families of those who were martyred in the act of terrorism, but I do not understand this prerogative of war being the only way out. I implore people to think beyond immediate reactions. The current situation in my country is such that most people are thirsty for war. What is war going to bring besides destruction and death? Are people naive enough to believe that war will solve things?
A cloud of unease and apprehension floats above those who have chosen to think this through. All these exchanges of bombs are leading to casualties of people who have little to do with this issue: Kashmiris. Constant firing across the Line of Control brings a new wave of terror to the already difficult lives of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.
Please wake up and see how the current atmosphere of anti-Muslim hate in the country is being twisted into propaganda for a specific outcome in the upcoming election. I would never wish harm on the people of Pakistan. We are two pieces of the same cloth, and I am sure they feel the same. All I can do is pray that my fellow Indians take their glasses of radical patriotism off and understand that you can be patriotic towards your country without asking someone’s brother, son, father, or husband to go and fight your war.
Krisha (2012 Indian Delegation)
The media has a big role to play in feeding the information systems of civilians on both sides of the border. And the absolute divergence in this information on the opposite sides of the border is appalling. For me personally, it has led to a state of confusion and frenzy for I cannot decide the truth, except that I know we as nations can do better than war.
Mariam (2018 Pakistani Delegation)
Both sides claim to strive for a piece of land they believe they deserve, but what does the piece of land itself deserves? Certainly better than this.
Neha (2017 Indian Educator)
I have witnessed firsthand the power of dialogue and I know of the unfathomable destruction that war can cause.
I have friends on the other side and I know that they don’t want war either. I know this because we’ve talked to each other, listened to each other, and made a genuine effort to understand each other.
Nabeel (2018 Pakistani Educator)
Be it any side of the border, words like death, destruction, disability, are neither sexy nor worth rooting for.
Jianna (2017 Indian Delegation)
Years of hatred culminated in extremist organisations using the hostile conditions to their advantage; why not approach it differently this time? We’ve tried missiles and ground attacks, we’ve tried surgical strikes and travel and import bans, we’ve seen social media threats and lost lives on both sides, and what have we gained? Absolutely nothing.
We need to raise our voice not our weapons, we need to find solutions, not escalate the situation. We need love, not hatred, for all hatred will do is make history repeat itself, except this time damage control will be close to impossible. Let’s join hands in our fight against terrorism. Let’s not make hate speeches on social media, and discuss solutions instead.
Posting an Instagram story about burning the Pakistani flag doesn’t make you a hero. If you actually care about the soldiers whose days turn into nights fighting with the uncertainty of how long they’ll live, if you actually care about the Jawans who have a passion for their country which burns brighter than the fire you’re starting in anti-Muslim riots, then contribute.
Use your voice and make sure justice is what we get. And justice never has and never will mean bloodshed.
Rohan (2011 Indian Delegation)
In times like these, it is important to remain objective and not be swayed by media content aimed at instigating the masses.
Huzefa (2002 Indian Delegation)
Having been patient the past few days as a Patriotic Indian Citizen, I believe that one side in the entire conflict has come out to be more mature and sensible, at least on the face of it and in the eyes of the international media.
Not for a second am I undermining what our soldiers did, nor am I questioning the decision to carry out the surgical strike. The question is regarding the chest thumping, mass hysteria, and war cries that have immersed this country.
I stand by our soldiers and condemn terrorism of all kinds and defend all actions taken against it, but as nation, we are coming across like an 18-year-old high on caffeine.
Nawal (2015 Pakistani Delegation)
They say ignorance is bliss. And I think that’s exactly why we, at both sides of the borders, live in bliss. Every news room is full of anchors and guests, and loud boisterous opinions. But is there, within these rooms, a space for the opinion of our Kashmiri half? No. Their place is merely reduced to macabre newspaper stories written by the “other”, and sympathy votes for when one needs to sound educated and emotional in dinner table conversations. Maybe, some day, one day, we stop romanticising their conflict as our own, and decentre ourselves from all that they’ve been left with—their narrative.
Falaknaaz (2017 Indian Delegation)
I see hate, anger, and the need for revenge around me, and it is almost impossible to determine the truth from the pool of lies. But I know that war and blowing up the ‘other side’ is not the answer.
Hamza (2003 Pakistani Delegation)
In Pakistan, the media is very much under the censorship of the Army. Despite this, the content on Pakistani media has been much less jingoistic than that on Indian media. Of course, people on both sides are getting fed selective facts and propaganda, but it appears that the diet on the Indian side is more mind-numbing and dangerous, driven by commercial interest (jingoism sells) rather than government influence.
Dilip (2002 Indian Educator)
Never forget: War-mongering is easy. Peace-mongering is hard work.
Sahar (2001 Pakistani Delegation)
I had not felt the fear of war with such intensity as I did last week, when news of violations by the Indian air force of Pakistani airspace ran through our media. There were promises of retaliation “at the right time” from my government, which were eventually executed by the downing of an Indian fighter plane and the capture of its pilot.
I knew that if matters were permitted to carry on unchecked, a full fledged war would not be a distant reality. I feared for my children, for our homes, our lives, and the beauty of this historic, cultural city in which we live.
Both India and Pakistan sit on a hot head of nuclear armor and have the potential to wreck havoc in the region and create instability across the world. The dangers and cost of the war must be understood and acknowledged by the Indian leadership. War is not an option. War cannot be an option.
Chintan (2014 Indian Educator)
I tried being stoic but that has never worked for me, so I’m allowing myself to cry now. I feel like holding all of my Pakistani friends in one huge, warm, loving hug, and telling each one of them, “I love you. I cherish you. I hate what’s happening. If I get killed in the craziness that might follow, please remember me and continue to speak of love, peace and friendship.”
Shaili (2004 Indian Delegation)
War, war, war, war
Everywhere there is this robust roar.
Who is to lose in this battle more?
Destruction will strike the soldier’s door.
Blood and flesh will cover the floor,
The bombs will blast each nation’s core.
Can’t we land on Peace’s shore?
Amreeta (2018 Indian Educator)
Kashmir has brewed in violence over many decades; a series of episodes of massacres, unrest, and attacks have been the norm. The demography of the groups in conflict in India, Pakistan, and Kashmir has changed over time, but the business of war continues to cater to the interests of certain governments and corporations across borders.
Narratives blind us to integral questions like:
- Does war and participating in displays of military might really address the issues of terrorism and radicalization, or just further alienate groups of people?
- Who controls the authenticity of information being circulated on the news, including images and other representations of the other side?
- What are the political agendas driving decisions about war on either side?
- How does war impact our economy or our people at different levels (civilians and soldiers alike)?
I don’t claim to have answers to these questions, but I do urge the people of both India and Pakistan to engage with them. Mediators in the form of governments controlling almost all channels of communication between the two nations need to be critically received. Isn’t that the very essence of democracy?
Muhammad (2018 Pakistani Delegation)
What can we do if a small region comes between two religions, two boundaries, or under the influence of two atomic powers? “Well, the only thing that can be done is to crush the region between the two boundaries and kill those 13 million people who live there.” Is this justice, to silence those 13 million voices? Everyone has a voice and a choice given by nature. So give them a choice, or else one day this world will die and become a barren land.
Rudra (2017 Indian Delegation)
It’s disillusioning to see that people still believe that violence is the right way to go. One might come to believe that after 70+ years, people would would look at what’s happening with a humanitarian eye, but whenever tensions seem to rise, people rebuild their walls and get really aggressive towards the opposite side.
Saumya (2018 Indian Delegation)
War is only feasible, tangible and sensible to those who haven’t experienced it.
Ismail (2018 Pakistani Delegation)
Kashmir is a place that is thoroughly exploited by both India and Pakistan. Both are trying to serve their own political agendas, creating propaganda through state controlled media which generates even more anger and hatred towards the other side. And on top of that, both states do not care about the loss of life in the process. What needs to be understood is the role of media and how it has led to most of the conflict. As far as the recent crisis is concerned, it never ceases to amaze me how easily people are ready to go to war not caring about the effects it will have.
Rukmini (2018 Indian Educator)
As I wait at Cairo in transit for a flight back home, home seems to have transformed. I don’t know if I am flying into an imminent Indo-Pak war, or just manufactured pre-election tension. As a peacebuilder, everytime there is an act of violence, it feels an attempt is made to kill a part of me—and of the beautiful children and youth I work with. It’s like all we do is being trampled upon.
And yet, how else does one live but to get back up and hope and strive again? I may fault the world for a momentary experience of conflict, but if I decide to adopt that experience as my inner reality, that’s my responsibility, not the world’s fault.
Do the children of soldiers on both sides deserve to live fatherless? Do their wives deserve to be widowed? And for the nations that demand this ‘sacrifice’ from them for the potential thrill of victory (whatever that means), what moral right allows them to pose this demand?
If we genuinely have the courage to fight, why do we not choose to fight the apathy that has left Kashmir orphaned all these decades? If we choose to not care in times of peace, we have no right to demand in times of conflict.
If you genuinely have courage, fight your own apathy. Reach out and make friends across the border. Conversations do not have to be easy. Dialogue is meant to be authentic. Know the other as another human being who did not necessarily choose their nationality. Create pathways for children to communicate and co-create a world they dream of and deserve. You do not need money or influence to do this. The forum on which you read this message is a good enough tool to begin with.
Peace exists. Here. Now. What we lack is the capacity to experience it. War is not a solution to conflict. We need to exercise our peace muscle.
The times may feel bleak, but we do not have to adopt it as our ongoing reality. Let’s wage peace. Step up civilian conversations. Retrieve power back from the systems we vested it into.
For anyone across the border who wishes to engage, I am ready to dialogue.
Keya (2012 Indian Educator)
I have stayed with my wonderful friend Nausheen from Pakistan—for three weeks. While talking we realised that we all are affected and disturbed by the violence, inequality, and terrorism in our world. We realised that we are same, just separated by borders. When terrorists attacked the Peshawar school, we connected and supported each other over the heart-wrenching incident. All governments and armies must know, dialogue with the other will take us forward towards peace, not violence.
Want to add your voice to this campaign? Comment in the space below, or if you are a Seed, Fellow, or Seeds of Peace Educator, send your reflections to firstname.lastname@example.org.