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Nosherwan Khan
March 31, 2011


An MoU was signed on Saturday between representatives of the Rotary Humanity Foundation, India, Rotary International (representing Pakistan), and Aman ki Asha — a peace initiative spearheaded by the Jang Group and the Times of India — that promises to use the huge global Rotary network to help Indians and Pakistanis come closer together....

An MoU was signed on Saturday between representatives of the Rotary Humanity Foundation, India, Rotary International (representing Pakistan), and Aman ki Asha — a peace initiative spearheaded by the Jang Group and the Times of India — that promises to use the huge global Rotary network to help Indians and Pakistanis come closer together and benefit from each other’s areas of expertise.

Among the aims of this ambitious link-up are to help the vast international network of Rotary in performing 200 heart surgeries in India on poor children from Pakistan; setting up of 30 eye hospitals throughout Pakistan; arranging youth exchange programmes; organising family exchange programmes; creating awareness of Aman ki Asha (AKA) in all Rotary Clubs worldwide and organising support for AKA objectives at Rotary platforms in both India and Pakistan.

Kamal Sanghvi, Trustee, Rotary Humanity Foundation from India; District Governor, Rotary International (RI) from Pakistan, Shahab Balkhi, and M Iqbal Qureshi, District Governor-elect (RI); signed the MoU on behalf of the Rotary International and Rotary International Humanity Foundation, and Shahrukh Hasan, of the Jang Group, and Azhar Abbas, Managing Director Geo, signed the MoU on behalf of Aman ki Asha. Among those who witnessed the ceremony at the offices of Geo were Faiz Kidwani, former district governor RI, the Assistant Governor RI and others representing all the parties.

The Rotarians from both sides of the border have been working on humanitarian projects geared to provide free specialized medical treatment to the poor children of Pakistan whose families cannot afford it. “Initially, we plan on having 200 heart surgeries, but very quickly we would like to double the figures,” promised Kamal Sanghvi,.

Kamal Sanghvi disclosed that Rotary India helps many poor families from Pakistan that cannot afford heart surgeries for their children. “There are families that have no money for treatment. We provide them money for the heart surgery. Once they come to India, they do not have to spend any money. A child can be accompanied by his parents, and even their expense is borne by Rotary India.

Heart surgery is very advanced in India and, of course, considerably cheaper. “India is nearby, so it is financially more beneficial for the poor people of Pakistan to go there,” pointed out Shahrukh Hasan representing Aman ki Asha. “But to do this, we need to raise awareness about the benefits of peace,” he added.

Speaking about the Youth Exchange Programme, Kamal Sanghvi said that to promote harmony between the two neighbours, they have a short-term programme for a month and a long-term programme comprising a year. For an entire month, a Pakistani boy or girl will live in India and learn about the Indians and their culture, and the same will apply to the Indian youth who will come to Pakistan for a month. “When a youth from India will visit Pakistan and live here, he will bring a part of his country with himself. Similarly, the youths from Pakistan will also live in Rotarian families in India as their children. They will go to school and lead normal lives, which will help dispel negative notions these youths may have about each other’s countries.” He also disclosed that his son is a student of Lawrence School, Sanawar, India, which has an exchange programme with Lawrence College in Pakistan.

A little over a year ago, a campaign for peace — Aman ki Asha — was initiated by the two largest media groups of India and Pakistan. In this short span of time, the campaign has captured the imagination of the people from the subcontinent and their quest for peace is already bearing fruit. It has attracted thinkers, writers, businessmen and sportspersons from both the countries, and has infused them with the spirit to promote peace.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Shahrukh Hasan highlighted the importance of Aman Ki Asha in the peace process between India and Pakistan, which, to many Indians and Pakistanis, is an elusive dream, one which will not materialize in their lifetimes. “We carried out research where we asked a group of people who were not aware of AKA, and another group of people who knew about this peace initiative. Those who did not know about AKA seemed to believe that peace between India and Pakistan was not a possibility. However, the people who were aware of AKA were hopeful about having peace during their lifetime.” Shahrukh Hasan stated that “Pakistan and India are both demographically young countries and their youth, which makes up about 50 percent of the population, is without any negative baggage”, which can help take the peace process forward.

The incoming District Governor of Rotary Pakistan, Iqbal Qureshi, praised Aman Ki Asha and said that both Rotary and AKA can promote peace between India and Pakistan. “I feel very positive about and look forward to contributing to AKA,” he said with a smile.

Irfan Qureshi, Assistant Governor (RI), is hopeful about the success of AKA, as ‘half the population is very young and they are our future.’ According to him, Aman Ki Asha has brilliant chances of success because people of both the countries now want peace.

Praising AKA, Mr Shahab Balkhi, District Governor, Rotary Pakistan, opined, “Through Aman Ki Asha, people, especially the youth of the countries, can have peace. The young people can bond with each other very quickly, and can help bring their countries closer Ö Youth is the future and peace can be evolved through young people, as peace cannot be implemented.”

Mrs Sanghvi, also a Rotarian who helps her husband with his projects, was excited to be here. “When I was coming here, my friends asked me to bring a lot of stuff for them, and so I have done a lot of shopping. I went to Zamzama and the Forum and Jaferjees in Clifton. I love the long embroidered and panelled shirts with pants that I saw. The designs and styles here are different from what we have in India.” She said she would love to be come back to Pakistan again. “Women have a big role to play, as an educated woman can influence the way her children think,” she said when asked about how women could help with AKA.

Sharing Courtesy : eGroup Rotary District 3070

Rtn Upkar Singh Sethi

DGN 2012-13, RID 3070

Nosherwan Khan
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