Indian and Pakistani students unite for anti-war protest

first_imgOne of the organisers, Rhodes Scholar Zehra Naqvi, told Cherwell: “It was powerful to experiencethe strong sense of community that exists amongst Indians and Pakistanis. “We often talk about the similaritieswe share in our food, culture, histories and the challenges we face. TheIndo-Pak community has emerged as a place of refuge and comfort for us. “We urge our fellow Pakistanis andIndians both within and outside the subcontinent to stand together in unity,focus on our commonalities, and reject divisive narratives. “We call upon the leaders of ourcountries to develop de-escalation protocols, organise constructive peace talksand dialogue for the resolution of all bilateral issues, especially for Jammuand Kashmir. It has historically borne the brunt of power struggles between thetwo states. We call for an end to the violence being perpetuated on Kashmiris. An anti-war protest organised jointly by Indian and Pakistani studentsattracted more than 70 demonstrators on Saturday. The protest was organised as a response to rising tensions betweenIndia and Pakistan, which saw both nations conduct aerial bombing missions. “However, when we imagine visiting eachother’s homes we realise all the ways in which visas and politics restrict us.As we sit together now, watching the increasingly violent direction the currentdiscourse is taking, we are frightened.” The joint statement strongly condemnedthe attack while warning that war would be in the interests of neither country,stating: “War only benefits a handful of influential profiteering interests whofeed on hatred and fear. The statement read: “Asstudents in a land that is foreign to our homes – India and Pakistan – we’vealways marvelled at how we seamlessly gravitate towards each other, and how weare able to come together in community in ways we can’t back home. Students recited poetry in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and English in whatorganisers described as “a bid to drive home the horrendous consequences of warand to help foster a sense of solidarity in the Indo-Pak community”.The demonstration concluded with the crowdsinging ‘Hum Dekhenge’, a revolutionary poem by Pakistani intellectual FaizAhmed Faiz “I feel immensely grateful that we could reach across heart-breakingdivides and come together like this in all our diversity and beautifulsimilarities.” “War and warmongering are alwaysunequivocally deplorable. At a time when India and Pakistan are lurching fromcrisis to crisis, we condemn the irresponsible rhetoric flooding the media inboth countries in the strongest possible terms. “For some people, especially thealready dispossessed, the human cost of war is no cliché. It is lived reality. “It is the people who never wish forwar that face its repercussions. It is a luxury to be able to debate thepossibility of war when the death, grief, and loss that accompany it are notpart of your everyday. “We dare to imagine a future that isfree of divisions and violence, and unshadowed by the politics of war. Werefuse to succumb to this environment of fear and suspicion. We refuse to seeour friends as enemies. We refuse to hate those we hold dear. This is not ourwar.” India and Pakistan both claim fullsovereignty over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, though each control only apart of it. The heightened tensions began with a suicide bombing in Kashmirlast month which claimed the lives of 44 Indian soldiers. Staff, students and locals gathered outside the Radcliffe Camera to read out a joint statement signed by 81 Indian and Pakistani students and the Oxford University South Asian Society.last_img read more