The role of veterans, journalists and youth

Veterans on both sides raised their voice against hate and war. Veterans from Pakistan and India appeared on media and resisted the war in strong words. For example, an Indian retired Navy official wrote a letter of dissent to the president of India by saying “stop hatred being spread by media” (Goled 2019). Social media also can help in increasing the contact between Indian and Pakistani school and college students to improve relationships between them. For instance, Aaghaz-c-Dosti is a joint initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based Catalyst of Peace. Since 2012, it has been striving towards its goal through online interactive sessions in schools and colleges called Aman Chaupals (peace debates in public space like school and community centres), discussions, seminars and peace workshops (Aaghazedosti 2013). The members of the media also promote durable peace between India and Pakistan. For example, the journalist community from both India and Pakistan have come together in a mutual call for peace amid rapid escalation of tensions between the two countries (The News Pakistan 2019).

The role of celebrities in peace

Celebrities from both countries (Aljazeera 2019a) are showing concern at rising conflict between India and Pakistan and are raising their voices against the conflict escalation. For instance, film industry stars on both sides resisted hate and war messages through social media activism and participated in peace marches in their respective countries. Indian film actor John Abraham warned people not to judge or stereotype others, noting the importance of changing the way people think about people on the other side (Nava Daur 2019). This message on social media has been shared around 1000 times, has attracted more than 100 comments and been liked more than 1000 times (ibid).

Civil society associations can be a gateway to increase contact between the people of India and Pakistan through Indian-Pakistani marriages. For instance, an Indian celebrity news editor Neha Prakash and Pakistani software engineer Shehryar Hussain had been volunteering for the American India Foundation, an India-based non-profit organisation, when they developed a friendship and married in July 2019. Neha Prakash reflected on her worried about how cultural and religious differences would affect her marriage with a Pakistani man. But she notes that this has not yet been an issue. This marriage story has been viewed on YouTube more than 220000 times and received around 3000 “likes” (Macon 2019).

Musicians are active members of civil society' who can help in connecting people from different religions and countries. Singers in India and Pakistan can send peace signals to people of both countries. An Indian music producer and social media activist Ram Subramaniam and famous Pakistani Sufi singer and music producer Natasha Baig produced collaboratively the music of Peace National Anthem of India and Pakistan—Pak Sar Zameen—Jana Gana Mana—sung by Indian and Pakistani singers together and uploaded on YouTube. On this YouTube video, Natasha observes that while negativity is easy, the anthem is a positive deed, lending beauty' and emotional sentiment to the cause of peace. See then used the social media hashtags #HappyIndependencedayIndiaandPakistan #Letsspreadloveandpeace (Baig 2017).

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