Aaghaz-e-Dosti is forging friendship across border

A brainchild of Aliya Harir and Saraya Islam, Aaghaz-e-Dosti won the Social Media for Empowerment Award 2016 in the Communication, Advocacy & Development Activism in New Delhi on March 15, 2016. Started in 2012, Aaghaz-e-Dosti is involved in peace building and conflict resolution by facilitating people-to-people contact, challenging hatred and suspicion, creating a culture of peace among the people of both the countries, and highlighting issues of victims of conflicts. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is a joint initiative of the Catalyst and India-based youth group Mission Bhartiya.

The Catalyst, a Pakistan-based registered group of students and young professionals, has been working to develop in the society, especially among youth, critical thinking that would lead to active citizenry, interfaith harmony, peace and social justice.

“I belong to Chitral, a remote area in Pakistan. As a child, when I used to watch the news, I would always get a negative image of India and about what it was doing against our people, and our army men. I used to be scared and often ask my mom, ‘Will there be a war?’. As I grew older, I realised a lot of the hatred buy just created by media and political influence. When I moved to Karachi, I felt that I to do something to change this perception and to show to people on either side of the border that we’re just like each other”.

As part of an eight-week exchange programme that the Catalyst runs, Indians and Pakistanis have peaceful and enlightening discussions on various topics, including politics, culture, religion and even films.