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«Peacebuilding in Pakistan vol. 1 | Main | Learning from other conflicts»
Peacebuilding in Pakistan vol. 2 [2011年01月13日(Thu)]
(continued from vol. 1)

Q. Your film shows that it is possible to contribute to peace by
developing documentaries even by living outside the conflict
areas. How did you do this?

Sarwar. The people in my film on Kashmir are writers, journalists,
youth and working folk. One of the best ways to collect footage on
the ground while living outside was to rely on my trusted contacts
with whom I have worked with for many years on peace. For
instance,a young TV journalist on the Pakistan side who manag-
ed to visit the Indian side of Kashmir, shared her footage that
featured lives of the Kashmir Pundits who are Hindu—many
of them have been forced out of Kashmir Valley but their plight is
rarely heard in Pakistan. I also featured was my Pakistani friend
and colleague, Mazhar Zidi, who was with the BBC in London. He
had organized a live link up on both sides of the Kashmir border
for divided families—most of them had not met for three
decades despite being relatives. Naturally, they had misconceptions
of each other which needed to be changed. For example, my film
described how the Internet link addressed prejudices on the Pakistani
side. People were under the impression that the Indian side was
not as well developed because they believed there were fewer
higher education
institutes on that side. But, after they began to speak to each other
directly via, the Internet, they learned they were wrong because the
people on the other side were well educated. I captured this change
this in my film. My contacts have also helped me to screen my film on
both sides of Kashmir and have also shared with me their documentation
of the happenings on the ground. Yet another way of gathering material
was by going to workshops that were held for the divided Kashmiris to meet
outside the conflict areas. The visits were held in a third county—India, Pakistan or New York.
I have captured in my film the emotional meetings between the Kashmiris as they learned
about each other when they met. They also formed strong bonds to work together to build peace.
Then I also used satire acted out by youth performances who conveyed the stupidity of Indian
and Pakistani politics that fight over Kashmir. The main thrust of my film was to record stories of
similar suffering between the two sides and their same hopes for liberation from the military.
The people spoke to my camera saying Kashmir belonged to neither Pakistan or India but was
their own shared destiny.
Watch short version.

Q. What is the situation for people living in Kashmir?

Sarwar: I believe it is difficult. I have never been there but I have talked to many people from
either side over the years and followed the issue. Thanks to the Internet I can stay in touch with
Kashimiri friends who regularly update me on the situation, Their stories are heartbreaking—the
constant struggle with military clampdowns and arrests. There is a lot of pain and
alienation. But there is also hope and determination. Their basic theory is that it is impossible to
create a homogenous Muslim identity in Kashmir. The people living there realize that Kashmir is
a diverse state. The spirituality they share is that they are both Hindu and Muslim. But Pakistan
and India have failed to recognize and appreciate this spirit in the people living in Kashmir.
The bloody wars are fought in vain and has encouraged more militancy. Both India and Pakistan
have denied the right of the Kashmir people to self-determination.

Q Tell us about yourself. Why did you get involved in bringing peace?

Sawar: I grew-up in a progressive, liberal family that was also very political—my father was
a doctor who during his college days lead Paksitan`s first nation-wide student movement
in the early 1950s, My mother is a teacher. There was no room for jingoism and bigotry in our
house as we never grew up seeing India as an “enemy” country, like many people in Pakistan do.
I am also one of the founders of the Womens Action Forum, an organization set up to protect
women from military harassment. My mother is also a member. I believe in raising awareness
in the public of human rights which is a vital part of peace building.

Thank you for talking with us.
Sarwar: Thank you for the opportunity.
Other documentaries by Sarwar include
Aur Niklein Ge Ushshaq ke Qafley (And there shall be more caravans of passion. January 2010. A film about the Democratic Student Federation 1949-54
Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice. Women Broadcasting for Change series. August 2006.
Best Documentary, Jaipur International Film Festival—2009
Women in Prison. TV Pakistan 2004
Karachi Diary (Dutch Televisiona)
Omar Asghar Khan 2002. A synopsis of the work of a peace activist, political leader and develop
-ment practitioner.