From India with Love
One World South Asia - 5 April 2006
by Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui
Around a thousand schoolchildren availed themselves of the first chance to respond to the letter “From India with love” at the Qadhafi Stadium on Tuesday. Carrying placards with slogans like “Forget the past, remember the present and work for future,” and “Let’s be friends for life,” six to 12-year-old children of 13 Lahore schools started arriving at the stadium at 11am.
Many of them preferred to get the Indian and Pakistani flags painted on their cheeks before reciprocating the friendship and love on the 360X240 feet letter.
There was a bit disappointment when children came to know that the Indian boys and girls were not with the letter.
Danish, Hassan, Salman, Hashim, Zain and Hamza were eager to play football and hockey with Indian children. Aleem and Shoaib had brought a bat and a ball to have a friendly match at the stadium with the Indians.
“There should be no visa restrictions between India and Pakistan. At least we should be free to visit Indian cities like we go to Karachi, Murree etc.”
Waliya Mirza, Mehreen, Zoha, Zainab, Sana, Noor Zohra, Tehreem, Simon, Mahin, Fazila and Mahnoor had come to show that everyone in Pakistan is friendly.
To Zunaira, Yusra, Yamna, Marriyam, Asra, Amna Azhar, Amna Shahid, Sidra, Farwa Rizvi and Marva who sang ‘Doosti aisa nata’, “friendship and truthfulness are the best things in life. The idea of bringing the children of the two countries is excellent but the event here could be organised in a better way.”
Noor Malik wanted peace in the region. “After completing my education I would ensure that people of my generation do not fight like our elders.”
Aizaz, Usman, Mahmood, Tayyab, Aleem, Hassaan and Hasnain wanted to themselves tell the Indians:” We are as good as you are. All the Pakistanis are not terrorists.”
The event was a mini-picnic for Zara, Adeenah, Jasveeb, Musa and Talha as they shook hand with Mickey Mouse and the clown, watched a puppet show and had orange juices free of cost.
John Silliphant of the Friends Without Borders.Org which organised ‘A Children’s Movement (From India to Pakistan with Love... and Back)’ termed the event as one of the most significant days in the history of Indo-Pakistan relations.
“Students of Lahore have joined hands to share the vision of peace. The world’s largest love letter is part of an even bigger Indo-Pakistan friendship initiative,” he said.
The letter received huge publicity in India. It was written in major stadium events in Bangalore, Mumbai, and walked through the streets of Ahmadabad.
German Ambassador to Pakistan Gunter Mulack said the idea to promote peace through children was unique. “Neighbours cannot remain hostile towards each other for long. France and Germany were once enemies but now they are friends,” he said.