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Kids from Pakistan, India erase border

Telegraph 2018-12-05 04:15:20

Children from India and Pakistan have been painting “best of luck” messages in the run-up to the hockey World Cup, not for their own country but the neighbouring one.

The pictorial messages would be handed over to the two teams at a programme in Bhubaneswar, where the tournament is being held since November 29.

India has won one and drawn one game, while Pakistan has lost its only match so far.

Some of the cards show the flags of the two countries, drawn by children from the neighbouring nation, and players holding aloft the World Cup.

“Let the differences be erased”, says the message on one of the cards from India. The accompanying drawing shows two hands carrying erasers emerging out of the maps of the two countries and a pencil going over the border lying broken.

Another one depicts three hands, two carrying the India and Pakistan flags and the other a white flag with the heart sign. The message: a crisp “AB BAS HOCKEY”.

The Aman Dosti initiative, launched by citizens’ forum Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy set up in 1994, marries the universal languages of sport and art to promote peace.

Children from either side of the border have responded enthusiastically with over 300 entries till now. Three prizes would be given in each of the four categories — six to eight years, nine to 11 years, 12 to 14 years and 15 to 18 years.

“Virat Kohli is my son’s favourite sportsman. I could offer no satisfactory answer when he asked me why Kohli does not play in the Pakistan Super League. But I could easily convince him to support India’s hockey team as he loves Kohli,” said Hasan Moben, an HR professional from Islamabad.

His seven-year-old son Arman has sent an entry where he has drawn an Indian flag held at one end by a hockey player and at the other by a bearded man with “Sahara India” written on his shirt.

Two Indian children from Toronto have sent their wishes too. “My six-year-old daughter was extremely disappointed when we told her we could not go to Pakistan. So, when we told her about this exercise, she was very excited to participate,” said Sayani Chattopadhyay, a software engineer and mother of Sreeja Kar, residents of Prince Anwar Shah Road in Calcutta before the family moved to Canada three years ago.

Rahul Mukherji, a member of the organisation that conceptualised the competition, said a similar initiative is being planned for the cricket World Cup next year.

“The idea is to make children of both countries think peace so that we can create a generation that can succeed where generations failed for 70 plus years,” he said.

Virat Kohli fan Arman sends good luck from Pakistan. The Telegraph picture