Pakistan is a beloved country to me and the reason behind is its people. It was not the same when I was unaware of the people of the country. When I was young, I knew very little about my western neighbours and this little information was primarily constructed by the people around me, namely my family, friends and society, and then by the newspapers and television. I only knew that Pakistan was an enemy and that our country had fought wars with it. Gradually, ‘terrorism’ entered the knowledge sphere and Pakistan was always held responsible for it by the media. However, the country always stirred a sort of curiosity in me. I did not get answers of many things as no one around me could guide me. So most of the times, I just kept them to myself. But with the passage of time, as I learnt more from my own experiences, about diversity, equality, communalism and secularism, I started knowing a little more about Pakistan and realised that there was hatred for this country in India because of the lack of communication and an unimaginable amount of miscommunication. That was when I started realising that the people around the world were almost the same and all deserved and desired love and peace. I started believing that peace was a common need. I gradually learned more about society, politics, culture and conflicts through my interest in the subjects of human rights, peace and development. I found out that the conflict between India and Pakistan had affected the common people the most because heavy expenditure on arms and defence budget of both the countries (major portion to secure against each other) actually diverted the funds that could have been used to address basic issues of the common folk. But another impact, which is probably more dangerous, is that the long sustained Indo-Pak conflict, coupled with humongous levels of misinformation, has created hatred and stereotypes among the two peoples against each other. I know that there would be many people like Raza who would keep this flame of friendship and peace burning at all times, but Raza’s return would reassure the society, the common people that peace can still win. To my surprise, I also found many persons and initiatives who advocated Indo-Pak peace. I found people who though did not know much about Pakistan and had never even met a Pakistani, yet hated them. And I also met with people who knew everything bad about Pakistan but still thought that the people there were not bad. And then there were those who wanted to go to Pakistan at least once in their lives and yet others who had travelled to Pakistan. I also happened to meet Pakistanis who had travelled to India. All these collective experiences and my individual passion towards peace-building and human rights built a strong conviction within me that we may ‘clear’ the doubts and stereotypes of the people just by becoming a bridge between the two sides. Gradually, this conviction became a full-fledged voluntary initiative named Aaghaz-e-Dosti that works mostly with school children to provide them peace education by connecting them with their mates across the border via video conferencing. In this journey, I met so many Pakistanis, online and offline, but did not find even a single enemy. Raza Khan, a Pakistani activist who became a very good friend and was voluntarily working with Aaghaz-e-Dosti as its convener, has contributed much in bringing younger generations of the two countries closer. It was due to his work for Aaghaz-e-Dosti that many students in Indian and Pakistani schools found opportunities to break their stereotypes, to ‘clear’ misunderstandings and to convert ‘hatred’ into ‘love’. Whenever I think about these young students, I envy them as I did not get to attend such beautiful sessions during my childhood, challenging my stereotypes and clear my misunderstandings. But Raza has been missing since December 2, 2017 and there is no information on his whereabouts still, after over four months of his disappearance. Some students made paintings about him, prayed for his early retrieval when they got to know about him through media. Children from Pakistan, India, Japan and many other countries also sent their artworks expressing solidarity with Raza. Civil society in Pakistan, the family and friends of Raza, and many others are raising their voices pleading before the government of Pakistan to make serious efforts for recovering him. His admirers and friends from India, like us, are praying for his return and have expressed their trust in the government of Pakistan. Raza’s return is much required for his family and friends for the reason that they are attached with him emotionally, but his return is much needed for Pakistan because its society needs him. Raza’s actions were not a crime, neither a threat to anyone who believes in peace, plurality, diversity, equality, humanity and other noble values that religions and constitutions teach us. I know that there would be many people like Raza who would keep this flame of friendship and peace burning at all times, but Raza’s return would reassure the society, the common people that peace can still win. His presence would not only be an asset for Pakistan, but would help attain the larger good of the society, especially of the younger generations who are the future of our nations. The writer is Founder, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative Published in Daily Times, April 6th 2018.