In tenth Aman Chaupal, former Indian journalist in Pakistan, Meena Menon interacts with students in Delhi School
Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst TC, organized Aman Chaupal at Andhra Education Society on 10th October. Aman Chaupal is an interactive session wherein someone from Pakistan interacts with students in a school or college. The objective of Aman Chaupal is to counter stereotypes and misconceptions. It is to show the side of Pakistan that the media never shows.
This was the tenth Aman Chaupal. The guest for the session was Ms. Meena Menon who was the former Indian Journalist in Pakistan. She is currently the deputy editor of The Hindu.
The session began with Ms. Menon sharing her experience in Pakistan. She talked about how the common people were very warm and friendly towards her. They would be very curious to know about India.
After this, the interactive session began.
"Are the barriers only political? Are there cultural similarities between India and Pakistan?", asked a student.
Ms. Menon shared the cultural links that India and Pakistan share. She talked about music as being an important connect. She had also shared that the Punjabis in Pakistan feel a cultural and emotional bond due to the similarities in culture.
There was a question on the status of the status of women in Pakistan. She explained that like in India, the situation is complex. There is no uniformity. The status of women varies depending on the region. In Taliban-controlled areas, the situation is bad as there are several restrictions imposed but this is not true for other areas.
There were questions on terrorism, ceasefire violations and on the "one-sided peace".
Why Pakistan does not co-operate with India for peace?, asked a student.
Ms. Menon replied that this is also the same question that is asked on the other side of the border. Both India and Pakistan put allegations on each other. They both accuse each other of not co-operating. They both accuse each other of initiating a clash.
She suggested the students to not get provoked but rather to think critically on issues, to look and analyse facts. They should try to think neutrally.
In the end, the students wrote peace messages for people in Pakistan.