The news of Pakistani activist Raza Khan’s disappearance came as a shock to us in India. Raza went missing on December 2 under mysterious circumstances. FIR was registered and police in Lahore are hopeful for his safe recovery in the coming days. Activists from all over the world have condemned his disappearance. There are teary eyes on both sides of the borders as tears don’t recognise man-made boundaries. Raza has been working with youth from both India and Pakistan to advocate peace building through peace education and people to people contacts between the two countries. These youngsters collectively work under an initiative, named Aaghaz-e-Dosti (beginning of friendship) that functions completely on voluntary basis, without having any funds or political ideology attached, except for the pure and selfless hearts who support humanity. Who can get offended by these pure motives? How can peace-building be a threat to anyone? How can writing, speaking or expressing yourself be a crime? Being an Indian, speaking up for a missing Pakistani activist may be a bit unusual, but this is what our work at Aaghaz-e-Dosti is all about. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is a place where people like Raza work not as colleagues, but as family members. This is the place like a no man’s land, where all members have the freedom to love India and Pakistan equally. We are always busy discussing what we can do to help gradually bring people of India and Pakistan closer. We work together and discuss our plans through Skype meetings where we fight, we laugh, but listen to each other patiently. Raza’s commitment to peace is inspiring for each one of us. Personal bonding with him is inseparable. I know Raza since long, even before he joined Aaghaz-e-Dosti. I’m good friends with him as his efforts for peace-building always impressed me. Although I knew about Pakistan and its people already because of my interest in peace-building, Raza helped me understand the real beauty of the country, its culture, diversity and rich heritage Although I knew about Pakistan and its people already because of my interest in peace-building, Raza helped me understand the real beauty of the country, its culture, diversity and rich heritage. Raza walked in schools in Pakistan to let their students talk to their Indian counterparts about both their countries. He helped Indian students know about the beauty of Pakistan through these sessions, and this is something the India media doesn’t show often. These sessions worked as a bridge between the classrooms on both sides of the border. The difference such efforts made can be judged from the fact that Indian students, when asked to share their thoughts on Pakistan on a sheet, described it as a ‘friend’ and ‘country of good people’. Was this Raza’s crime? I still remember how he narrated some Urdu articles for me that was based on the hope of a peaceful relation between India and Pakistan. It doesn’t matter for me if I am an Indian or he is a Pakistani, I will continue to share a beautiful brotherly bond with him. Barbed wires cannot stop the flow of emotions for emotions cannot be imprisoned or disappeared. At Aghaz-e-Dosti, we release a peace calendar every year with selected paintings of Indian and Pakistani students painted on ‘Indo-Pak Friendship’ theme. Raza was working effectively for the calendar that would be the 6th one and is scheduled to be released next month in both countries. While writing these lines, I can see our peace calendar of 2017 hanging on my wall for which Raza had worked a lot. We live in the region known as South Asia. Under SAARC charter, within eight defined objectives point 2 says, “conscious that an increasingly interdependent world, the objectives of press, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity are best achieved in South Asian region by fostering mutual understanding, good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among member states which are bound by ties by history and culture” and Point 6: “Recognising that increased cooperation, contacts and exchanges among the countries of the region will contribute to promotion of friendship and understanding among their peoples.” His disappearance is also a blot upon human rights and a clear violation of it that recently organisations like Amnesty International, Forum Asia and Asian Commission for Human Rights have spoken about. Raza’s actions for peace-building are completely in line with the objectives based on which Pakistan was formed by Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah. I hope the government of Pakistan will make all necessary efforts to ensure safe return of Raza at the earliest. The writer is Founder, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative Published in Daily Times, December 17th 2017.