The Queen Baton’s Relay Ceremony at Wagha Border of Pakistan and India took place on Friday, June 25, 2010, to promote peace between the two countries through sports and friendship.
The Pakistan Olympic Association and AMAN KI ASHA (a wish for peace) — a joint initiative of Geo TV and The Times of India — organized the event on the border at which the Commonwealth Games Torch was handed over to India by the Governor Punjab.
The Commonwealth Games will be hosted by the Indian Olympic Association in New Delhi from October 3 to 14, 2010.
Thousands of people from both the countries gathered on the borders with the commitment to promote peace. Students and teachers from St. Peter’s High School*, Toba Tek Singh, were invited by AMAN KI ASHA and Pakistan Olympic Association to make chain of peace handkerchiefs made by the schools from Pakistan. The peace kerchiefs were made by thousands of students in India and Pakistan. Students from both the countries made chains of the kerchiefs and exchanged with each other on zero line.
AMAN KI ASHA highly recognized the peace work of St. Peter’s High School and invited the students to lead the peace chain ceremony.
Four girls from the school reached with the chain of peace kerchiefs on the zero line to exchange the chain with their Indian counterparts. Both the peace makers exchanged the chains with smiles and commitment to remain united for peace. National and International electronic and print media covered the International event. Various Indian and Pakistani Channels telecasted live program. The media highlighted the work of St. Peter’s. The students expressed their joys in the following statements.
Arzoo Buta, 11, said, “I could not sleep for nights and kept on imagining about the border. What kind of the students would there be from? How would they behave? But everything was so nice. The Indian students’ smiles had the answers of my questions. I wanted to cross the border to spend time with my counterparts and wanted to invite them to visit my beautiful city of Toba Tek Singh.”
Uzam Munawar was delighted for being a part of the national event. She thought border was an area where the army men of the two countries with heavy arms are deployed to fight but I was surprised to see people on both sides were waving hands and sending peace greetings to each other. I could feel the thirst to meet each other. I pray that May peace be in India and Pakistan.”
Nida Ashfaq said, “When I took part to draw the kerchiefs, I did not get the ideas to how to write but the exchange with India friends have given me new ideas and real meaning of peace between India and Pakistan. Thanks to AMAK KI ASHA for their worthy role to bridge the gaps between the people of two countries.”
I, (Ashfaq Fateh), was the lead person of the delegation from St. Peter’s and I believe that the participation of students and teachers in such a big International event a historic moment. Pakistan’s visionary peace, human rights and development icon, Rev. Fr. Bonnie Mendes, laid the foundation of Indo-Pak Peace initiatives in 1998 when the tension escalated between India and Pakistan over the issue of atomic bomb explosion by the two countries. A delegation of teachers and civil society workers was formed to deescalate tension between the two countries. The delegation was granted visas which used each forum in India to spread the message of peace. Since then the river of peace has fertile the land of Toba Tek Singh to promote Indo-Pak Peace.
Today the disciples of Rev. Fr. Bonnie Mendes have been carrying out the peace mission, and peace loving Pakistanis are thankful to him for envisioning the people of Toba Tek Singh.
The second generation since 1998 was invited to join the peace chain on the zero line. AMAK KI ASHA Pakistan chapter is thanked for recognizing the peace efforts.
Sports and art celebrities, political leaders, civil society representatives, schools, citizens and Pakistan Rangers attended the colorful program. Pakistan’s famous singers, Najim Sheraz, Jawad Ahamd and Jasi Singh, thrilled the celebrants with their performances. Youth danced on the songs. Across the border famous Pakistani singer Ustad Rahat Ali sang some nice songs and Qawali.
The school formed a delegation of 29 people including students and teachers. Four students from the Convent of Jesus and Mary High School and former St. Peter’s teachers and volunteers were also invited.
Correspondents of the Daily Jang newspaper and Geo TV also joined the delegation.
On June 24, 2010, the District Administration of Toba Tek Singh invited civil society, members of the district bar association, media, traders and people of all sections of life encouraged the young peace makers. After the program, India’s largest media group, The Times of India organized a telephonic interview of students and the lead person from New Delhi.
St. Peter’s gained support from all over Pakistan to promote Indo-Pak peace under the banner of AMAN KI ASHA. The Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Coutts, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Faisalabad encouraged and blessed the delegation. Rev. Sr. Marie Cecile the Provincial of Religious of Jesus and Mary Sisters in Pakistan, Democratic Commission for Human Development, Ms. Rafia Salomi, Deputy Director, Society for Human Development, Applied Socio-Economic Research, Atif Jamil Pagaan, central Chairman, Pakistan Democratic Movement, Rev. Fr. Aftab James Paul, Rasheed Jalal, District President, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Advocate Sadaf Sadique, Jamil Thomas, Robin Ghosh, Johnson Gill and many others.
* St. Peter’s High School was founded in July 1967 in the community of Toba Tek Singh located in the Catholic Diocese of Faisalabad. The poor Catholics of the community asked the priests to start a primary school as their children were deprived of basic Christian formation.
Ashfaq Fateh, Assist News Service