Promoting peace on the Pakistan-India border

Rotary members at Kartarpur Sahib

In March, members of Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact from both Pakistan and India gathered together at Kartarpar Sabib a shrine holy to Sikhs.

By Sajid Pervaiz, past governor of District 3272, member of the Rotary Club of Ruryila, Pakistan

In March, members of Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact from both Pakistan and India gathered together at a holy shrine on the border for an afternoon of food, fun, and fellowship. It was a small, but significant step toward building peace between our two countries.

Ever since attending a breakout session on healing the wounds of war at the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, Canada, I have had a heart to draw members of the Rotary family together to talk about peace. Being from Pakistan, I have seen how the tensions between my country and India have disrupted harmonious relationships.

Sethi and Pervaiz

Upkar Singh Sethi, left, and Sajid Pervaiz

Recently, I had a chance to put my idea into motion, and reached out to my Rotary friends in India. Upkar Singh Sethi from the Rotary Club of Amritsar South and past governor of District 3070 (India), agreed to organize the meeting from the India side of the border.

We held the event at Kartarpar Sabib, a shrine in Pakistan built on the site where Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, settled and assembled the first Sikh community in the 16th century. Because of the tensions between the two countries, it has been difficult for Sikhs in India to visit the shrine. But in 2018, the government of Pakistan opened up a corridor so pilgrims from India could visit the shrine visa-free.

On that day in March, we stood together in goodwill and fellowship, among the other visitors who come to venerate the site. It was exhilarating. Sethi expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity and noted how his club had limited its delegation to a little more than 20 members because of the strict protocols for visiting through the corridor.

“However, we were amazed to see the response from across the border, where more than 50 Rotarians from various clubs turned out to receive us and join us in paying homage to this holiest of Sikh shrines,” he said.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, we plan to invite a delegation from India four times a year to join us in building goodwill and friendship between our two countries.

It may have been a small effort at peacemaking, but it is the start of an evolutionary process of achieving peace and justice with the greatest speed and grace.

About the author: Sajid Pervaiz is a member of the Rotary Action Group for Peace and an assistant Rotary Public Image Coordinator. He served as a representative to the 2019 Council on Legislation and is a member of the Pakistan National Polio Plus Committee

7 thoughts on “Promoting peace on the Pakistan-India border

  1. PDG Sajid Pervaiz and PDG Upkar Singh Sethi, your original account described your gathering in Kartarpur as “a small, but a reckoning effort to make peace…” We have much reckoning to do in the world, and here, as Rotarians, you have done that. It was evolutionary leadership that brought it to fruition and we commit to following in your footsteps. Dr. Ann Frisch, Rotary Club of White Bear Lake Minnesota, US, and RID 5960.

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  2. Hari Om Shrestha, New Road City Kathmandu RC, President 2000-01 Patant West RC,Nepal D-3292 on said:

    Appreciation for the Rotary peace initiation. Best wishes for a small step towards a big leap for triggering G2G Peace Talk..

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  3. Really a great attempt in the path promoting peace. My hearty congratulations on your maiden attempt wish this tribe of peace promoters will grow and peace will prevail along the borders.
    PDG Prof. Chandrashekar Alilagfhatta COL 2019 member from 3182 India

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  4. Dear Sajid & PDG Upkar, its very bold and necessary step you have taken. sometimes, we may visit from Gujarat, India in this fellowship. Our heartiest congratulations to both of you and all Rotarians involved in this significant project. Our best wishes for all your future plan of this project and keep it up.

    PDG Parag Sheth
    RID 3060

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  5. We hope that this exchange between India and Pakistan will continue. We Rotarians 4 Nuclear Ban have an organizing committee of Indians and Pakistanis working together to put on two conferences, one on the 5th of August at 6 PM Pakistan time and 6:30 PM India Time and another on 10th of August at 7 PM Pakistan time and 7:30 India time with Rotary Int’l President Elect Shekhar Mehta speaking on Monday the 10th.
    Here is the link to register August 5 and August 10:
    https://forms.gle/h21amFvpNkPvq3m26
    Dr. Richard Denton, DGN District 7010
    Chair of Rotarians 4 Nuclear Ban

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  6. Pingback: Promoting peace on the Pakistan-India border | Rotary Club - AIRC

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