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GUEST ARTICLE
Building a bridge of friendship
Tue, Jan 15, 2008 at 14:18
Rahu Mukherji, Owner: The India Pakistan Friendship Club (IPFC) on Orkut
You have lost your friend. Find out the way to reach him.
ENJOY THE GAME

"RUK (Rukh) JAAYENGE NEHI (Nahin) KAHI (Kahin) HUM HAAR KE (Mein)…KAL YEH JAHA (Jahaan) BADLAYENGE (Badlenge) HUM…YEH WAADA RAHA HUMARA (Hamara Aapse)!"

Translation: We will never stop in any situation… Tomorrow, we will change this world… This is our promise to you!

The India Pakistan Friendship Club (IPFC) on Orkut is on its way to welcome 100000th member. I had no idea that IPFC would grow so big when I started it in May 2004.

The genesis of IPFC went way back to 1997. In those days I was associated with The Statesman as school/college coordinator in Kolkata. Inspired by the song Mere dushman mere bhai mere humsaaye from Bollywood movie Border, I wanted to do a story about what youth in India and Pakistan though about each other. However the idea had to be dropped because there was no way we could reach out to the people across the border.

In 2001, I came in contact with quite a few Pakistanis while studying abroad.

It was during an International Relations class - aptly titled "Politics of Peace" -- that I saw a guy across the table who was bashing India left and right on the Kashmir issue. As days passed by, we heard each other, came out of our pre set minds and realised how similar we were so far as culture, needs and people of our countries were concerned and soon inspite of out initial differences soon Shafique Ahamed Khan, became my best Pakistani buddy.

As a project of 'Politics of Peace' class we conducted a survey on both sides of the border to know how the youth on both sides of the border think about each other. The survey results were not encouraging. But my success was that I was interacting with people on the other side and getting to know them. Shafique and later few other Pakistan friends like Nadeem bhai, Rashid bhai, Sher and few other taught me that everyone on both sides of the India-Pakistan border wants a peaceful life. Kargil or no Kargil, everyone in both countries hankers to sit down and listen to Lata Mangeshkar or Ghulam Ali. Millions in both countries want bread not bombs. Want education and not guns.

All we needed was to let the common people communicate. It was this idea of led us to the creation of the India Pakistan Friendship Club community on Orkut, a platform where ‘WE’ the common people will communicate. IPFC turned out to be a great success and Barriers were broken when people started talking and nurtured friendship between young people in India and Pakistan.

Today IPFC has grown beyond online networking. Its members have created a full-fledged site. Members like Aminur, Anurag, Kashif, Vipin, Arsalan, Baggu, Ashfaq, Asma, Niketan, Gurpreet, Muddabir, Tayyab -- to name a few -- have ventured out to the real world. IPFC members took up relief work during the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. We are on our way to launch a radio station.

Every journey has to have the first step. We have taken it and moved a little ahead and will continue to walk until the mission is accomplished.

The day when we will able to give a solution to the Kashmir problem and see the Dal lake filled not with blood but the Shikaras. We are waiting for the day when India and Pakistan will smile at each other and smile together. We all should look forward for the day. It might take some time but I am sure it will happen in our lifetime somewhere.

We need to keep the communication channels on…
Peace!

(IPFC IS DEDICATED TO THE TEARS SHED SILENTLY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER DUE TO MORE THAN 55 YEARS OF HOSTILITY BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER.)

http://www.indo-pak.org/