To help develop peaceful and positive relations between Pakistan and India by learning from the experience of people in other countries who have been successful in building good relationships with their neighbours.
I am not part of any political party or organisation. My message is simply to end the hate and animosity that shamelessly exists between people in two countries that should, by now, have reached the maturity to address and resolve any problems between them diplomatically.
If I can persuade just one single person to steer away from hate and extremism, then I will consider this to be an achievement and a step towards accomplishing my mission. I hope that my small effort towards promoting peace and friendship between the two nations will overcome all hurdles preventing peace in the region.
I am very proud of my initiative. As far as I am aware, I am the first person in history of Pakistan and India to have started such a 'peace journey', as described below, to promote better relations between India and Pakistan.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with Kerataconus, a rare degenerative eye disease. It was a big setback in my life. This condition made my life very painful and difficult. I was unable to work and I was becoming disillusioned with my life. I had to travel several times to America for specialist treatment.
During the early days of my diagnosis, I spent a great deal of my time listening to Pakistani and Indian radio programmes. I became interested in the discussions and phone-in debates in relation to the on and off conflicts between India and Pakistan which have been going on since the independence of the two nations. As a result neither nations has been able to focus on the development of their people.
Living in Great Britain and regularly travelling to many states of the USA, I started to see both of these countries as great examples of the benefits peace achieves; everyone is treated equally without bias of religion, race or nationality. I also became fascinated with the way in which European countries developed after the end of World War II, which, of course, concluded just before India and Pakistan obtained independence.
Looking at Europe I wondered how do Germany and Russia work together when over 25 million of their citizens were killed in conflict between them? How does Holland manage to get along with Germany after being invaded and ruled by them a little more than 65 years ago? How has Spain been able to progress after a bloody Civil War and having only become a democracy in the 1970's? So it is with the wide variety of European countries - all quite different to each other.
Then I noticed that although Indians and Pakistanis living back home grow up hating each other, when they leave their homelands and meet in a neutral country they live peacefully. So the idea came that it would be beneficial to make films of their diverse experiences of living in harmony and show them to Indians and Pakistanis back home to help them understand the areas of development that have been the most beneficial to other societies. At the same time I would ask them for their suggestions as to how India and Pakistan can improve their relationship and live in peace and encourage a debate on the best way forward. The most important issue to me was to highlight how Indian and Pakistani people are living abroad. From another angle, I also wanted to show how it is normal for neighbouring countries in Europe and the Gulf to have good relations with each other.
I decided that the best way to go about collecting interviews with overseas Indians and Pakistanis would be to drive myself from country to country meeting people and promoting my mission. The whole journey would mean travelling through three continents, 21 countries and 65 cities and towns - one for every year of Independence that India and Pakistan have enjoyed.
This overland epic journey started from London on 12-12-12 at 12:12:12. In the first leg, I travelled through thirteen European countries; in the second leg, six Middle East countries – a total of 19 countries. Wherever I went I visited areas with a concentration of Indian and Pakistani communities.
In every country, both Indian and Pakistani people welcomed me open heartedly and arranged dinners and meetings in my honour. I was presented with many honours and certificates. Often, at very short notice, the communities would arrange to welcome me. These welcome meetings were attended by Indian and Pakistani dignitaries as well as the media including print journalists, online news, TV channels and radio stations. I did many interviews with the media
On my journey so far, I have faced a lot of difficulties which tested my courage, devotion and dedication. However, my passion has always been there so I have been able to complete my journey through the first nineteen countries of the twenty one – thanks, also, to the help of so many people who were inspired by my message of peace.
My greatest challenge has now begun. I am preparing for the final leg of my journey: to drive through Pakistan and India sharing my message. I have received enthusiastic offers of support from many actors, singers, politicians, media organisations and humanitarian groups from both countries. However the climate between the two countries, especially at the moment, creates great challenges to this project, which will take some time, and much effort, to overcome.
In the meanwhile, another way I am working for this huge cause is to launch a music album to promote peace and better relations between the two nations. I have been inspired by the legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachan's movies whilst working on this project. I have selected popular songs from his movies from the 70's and 80's and introduced new lyrics to those evergreen original music compositions. Every lyric that I have written reflects peace and harmony between the two nations. I have decided to record these songs and launch an album in India and Pakistan. I have not set a time limit to complete this, so my followers may need to wait for a while yet.
If you want to be part of my work of fostering friendship and reconciliation between India and Pakistan, please follow me on social media and tell your friends about it.