— beena sarwar (@beenasarwar) March 5, 2014
Found to be inoperable in Bangalore, young Kiran Soomro won over scores of hearts and has returned to Pakistan with a priceless gift of love – and homemade Singhar mithai. My article published in Aman ki Asha and TOI blogs today
On January 20, 2014, her seventeenth birthday, Kiran Soomro flew from Karachi to Bangalore on with her parents. They left with hope in their hearts and a prayer on their lips, expecting that Dr. Devi Shetty at the Narayana Health hospital would be able to surgically close the hole in Kiran’s heart.
Five days later, they learnt that her condition is inoperable by now. It would have been a fairly simple operation had it been looked into and treated earlier. Doctors initially discussed a heart-and-lung transplant. Dr. Balakrishnan, a well-known surgeon from Chennai drove down on his own initiative to examine Kiran in Bangalore. Continue reading
On Jan 19, 2014, friends and family gathered at heart patient Kiran Soomro‘s home in Karachi for a small send-off/birthday party. The following day, on her 17th birthday, Jan 20, 2014, she left Karachi for Bangalore with her parents, via Mumbai where her Indian ‘didi’ Nitu Jiwnani met her. The five hour flight delay had been exhausting. A skinny, exhausted, red-eyed Kiran clung to Nitu and wept. She didn’t want to get on another flight. But after a breather and some refreshments, she was ready to tackle the onward journey (see my article in Aman ki Asha; also published in TOI blogs).
They landed in Bangalore late at night, and spent the following day, Jan 21, at the police station undergoing the verification process that Indian and Pakistani citizens are required fulfill within 24-hours of arrival Continue reading
By Beena Sarwar
“Didi, I want to live,” 16-year old Kiran Soomro in Karachi tells her friend Nitu Jiwnani in Mumbai. “I don’t want to die.”
They are talking on Skype in Sindhi as they often do, since first meeting at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, in May 2013.
Kiran had gone there with her parents to undergo surgery for her congenital heart defect (“hole in the heart”) that should have been operated upon when she was much younger. But her father Sikandar Ali Soomro, a tall, thin matriculate who earns daily wages selling potato wafers at a Karachi roadside stall could not afford the operation. Her parents were resigned to losing Kiran, a weak and sickly child.
But she wouldn’t give up. Pulled out of school when she was in class five, Kiran studied at home. A few years ago, as a spunky teenager, she realised that without the surgery, she would die. Continue reading
Something I wrote last week for The News year-end special supplement, published Jan 1, 2014. I later remembered many special moments I left out, like the Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs exchanges, the border security guards allowing violators to return instead of throwing them in prison, the Indian heart patient allowed to disembark without a visa in Pakistan, to name some. There are many others…
For millions of Indians and Pakistanis, Aman ki Asha is just that – a shared ‘hope for peace’ between our two countries. Despite falsehoods circulated by detractors targeting this peace initiative in all kinds of underhand ways since its launch on January 1, 2010, it has stayed the course, and continued to urge both governments to do so. In the process, Aman ki Asha has provided a platform and a way forward for aspirations of peace between India and Pakistan.
India Pakistan Global Peace Vigil
The year 2013 started out with a powerful expression of these aspirations countering rising tensions due to firing and the loss of lives at the Line of Control in Kashmir. In the midst of the cacophony of allegations and counter-allegations arose voices of sanity, coming together for a global vigil for peace between India and Pakistan. Continue reading
My article in the Aman ki Asha page of The News, Dec 4, and in the TOI blog
Play for peace: Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Milne Do’
A behind-the-scenes look at what is driving a veteran film producer and peace activist’s fourth stage production, coming up
By Beena Sarwar
It was Google’s “Reunion” ad released on the web that pushed Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid to move on an idea that he has been thinking about for some time, creating waves in the media.
Last week Imran messaged me, asking for story ideas for a stage play “to promote Aman ki asha and the concept of ‘Milne do’ (let them meet) to be staged in various cities of India and Pakistan in association with Mahesh Bhatt Saab”. Continue reading
“Why are India and Pakistan at war?”
Some days ago I got a call from my friend Samir Gupta, on his way home after picking up his son, 14-year old Kshitij, from a Delhi train station late at night. Kshitij was returning from a school trip with some 30 other students from Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad. They’d taken an early morning train to Amritsar and watched the flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah Border.
Samir, a passionate advocate of peace and good relations between India and Pakistan, asked Kshitij about the trip. Continue reading
Published in Aman ki Asha, Oct 8, 2013… Justice Katju may be controversial but his sincerity to peace and humanity is unmistakable, finds a young activist at a breakfast meeting
I was bit nervous when journalist Beena Sarwar invited me to accompany her to meet Justice Markandey Katju for breakfast in Delhi. Justice Katju had retired as a judge at the Supreme Court of India and was appointed Chairman of Press Council of India. He is known for his controversial statements, including his comment “Pakistan is a “fake” country “created artificially by the British” – that I had also ridiculed. He sounded like a retired person far removed from reality.
Beena, editor Aman ki Asha Jang Group Pakistan, insisted that he is a sincere friend of Pakistan and a champion of peace between India and Pakistan. She wanted to talk to him about his calls for re-unification that are causing unnecessary controversy and diverting from the real issues at hand. This was going to be interesting.
On the day, I met Beena outside his majestic bungalow near Parliament House in New Delhi. He was much taller than I expected, and very warm in welcoming us. As we sat for breakfast, he regaled us with stories of his days as a judge in Allahabad, meeting his counterparts from Pakistan in Delhi, his views of what ails India and his views on Pakistan.