Peace project between India and Pakistan on Rakhsha Bandhan

Ten years ago this time, I was paired with two Pakistani people through Aman ki Asha to be my rakhee brothers. This was an act to help forge personal bonds between people from India and Pakistan. Though I was born and brought up in Canada, my ties with India have been strong so I just viewed this relationship as an extension of that. For the unfamiliar, Aman ki Asha is a peace media initiative that was started between Times of India and the Jang group of publications. While there were those who took issue with the idea of my taking on rakhee brothers from Pakistan, I have also simultaneously received a lot of positive feedback from people.

Call it my faith in Rakhee or Raksha bandhan, but by and large, God has supported me in somehow being able to honor this occasion with these brothers every year. The mailing and courier system has not been straightforward for me to order rakhees online from India or even within Pakistan to send to my rakhee brothers.

Now some may say why don’t you just mail the rakhees from Canada? Well, I did at one point but I found that the mail somehow never reached my brothers there. It later felt like a matter of principle that why shouldn’t rakhees get sent smoothly between two neighboring countries? Since then, I have relied on the good will of good Samaritans from either India or Pakistan to help me get these rakhees across to my rakhee brothers.

The gestures of these different people who have helped me send these rakhees is so endearing that it feels indescribable. In all these instances, people on both sides have refused to take money from me even for the cost of buying or sending the rakhees because of their commitment to the cause. It’s like I took one step but then God did the rest.

Now if only everyone thought this way. Imagine what peace would prevail across the continent. As I reflect on the 75th Independence year for India and Pakistan, I ponder the importance of supporting the many actions being taken to bridge harmony between people of both nations. In my personal capacity, I try to join such efforts wherever I can. And where I can’t, I venture to create many personal opportunities or applaud and share the work of those who do.

As a Canadian who has enjoyed the privilege of crossing borders across the globe including with the U.S. all their life with great ease and peace, I cannot help but want our South Asian brothers and sisters to have the same privileges if not more. It should never rest easy on me when so many people needlessly lose lives from cross-border fighting when in fact, a better way is possible. It should also never be convenient for me to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of many who face severe consequences for accidentally crossing borders.

On a smaller level, if people from two neighboring countries can’t even smoothly send books to one another because of the terse relations between both countries, it’s time to check in to a much more progressive mode of thinking.

As many of us Canadians learned from crisis mismanagement with the great lack of accessibility for masks, ventilators and vaccines at a critical time, the closer you produce to home, the better off you are. Outsourcing every resource known to man very obviously doesn’t work. Hence, another upcoming trend which is being predicted by some economists is the idea of sub-regional economic development.

In this case, there’s an emphasis on first being self-supportive as a nation. I.e. you try to make things to supply goods to people within your country.  And where you can’t, you try to build ties with other nations that are closer by you to get those goods. Drawing from this scenario, if India or Pakistan cannot produce something themselves, they would be relying on all the countries which would come under the South Asian sub-continent. And that includes each other.  

We can also learn from people from neighboring countries about how they handle similar scenarios or even about things we never knew of before. In fact, I am so much the richer for having done so with my rakhee brothers. Where one brother has tried to help me make my father’s solar energy based inventions more accessible to people within India and Pakistan, the other imparts deep spiritual wisdom. And there is so much more beyond this which I have come to experience over the last ten years but this at least gives you a sampling. 

Given all these reasons then, it’s high time we make amends and create good relations between the two nations. Other nations have done this and India and Pakistan can too. This includes Canada and the U.S., the former two Germanys, France and England and so on. Let us pray then for this 75th anniversary to become the start for better bonds between both nations. Happy Independence Week and Happy Raksha bandhan.

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