A poster on a Facebook page of a friend declared: ‘PAKISTAN Lovers before doing any Bakwas in the name of Aman ki Asha… read about this hero first’. The reference to ‘Pakistan lovers’ alludes to those in India who believe that it is possible for India and Pakistan to have much better relations. The term bakwas is a Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi word that is synonymous with speaking nonsense or rubbish. As for Aman ki Asha, it refers to a 2010 cross-border initiative promoted by two media groups, one from Pakistan and another from India, to highlight cross-border peace efforts. Aman ki Asha, means hope for peace, using words from both Urdu and Hindi, the respective national languages of Pakistan and India. The ‘hero’ in question is Captain Saurabh Kalia of the Indian Army, who was allegedly tortured and killed by the Pakistani military during the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Aman ki Asha is the brainchild of Jang, one of the biggest media groups in Pakistan. Jang approached the Times of India with the idea in 2008. Within two years the two media groups had decided on a joint plan of action to advance dialogue and collaboration with various actors in civil society, including business groups, religious leaders, students, scholars, artists, artisans, professionals, as well as the respective governments. The initiative was launched formally on 1 January 2010 with a joint editorial on the front page of both the Times and Jang newspapers. The campaign has been widely promoted through print, online and social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. A YouTube video message announced: ‘Aman Ki Asha is a brave, new people-to-people initiative by The Times of India and Pakistan’s Jang Group to bring the people of two fine nations closer together. Culturally, emotionally and peacefully’.

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