Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hey, you're just like us, aren't you?

One of the goals of the Aman ki Asha campaign launched by Pakistan's Jang Group of Newspapers and India's 'Times of India' group is to encourage greater coverage of human interest stories from India and Pakistan in the other country's media, and to encourage more people-to-people contact across the border. The underlying assumption is that if citizens of each country came to see the other's citizens as they actually are, rather than through stereotypes, then the mutual desire for peace could overwhelm any official apathy, foot-dragging at the government level. While citizens of both countries often view the other through stereotypes, and while the education system, (particularly in Pakistan) plays a big role in creating and sustaining these stereotypes in the minds of impressionable young children, this can occasionally reveal a comic side.

A Pakistani disc jockey visiting India with a theatrical troupe, Ayesha Khaled, writes in the Times of India, that

every Indian was curious to meet the delegates from Pakistan. It is this curiosity that makes us friends with every year. I recall this little Indian boy who came to us and politely asked us if we were from Pakistan? Then, very hesitantly, he asked one of our groupmates, "Can I touch you?" We thought he was joking but after seeing the mixed expression of seriousness, interest and nervousness on his face, my friend replied, "Yes, sure you can." He cautiously touched him with his index finger, as if fearing my friend would grab him and take him to some strange place. He shouted happily, "Hey, you are just like us... aren’t you?"

Read the full article.