Op-Ed: What a hashtag can do for Pakistan/India tensions

Opinion: Areej Elahi is a communications intern at PeaceTech Lab, and share's here how she felt as tensions escalated between India and Pakistan recently.

With over half of my family living in Pakistan and tons and tons of friends from India and Kashmir, I’ve spent the last few days biting my nails, incessantly checking for updates on the alarming escalation of hostilities between Pakistan and India as they continued tit-for-tat military airstrikes.

This certainly isn’t the first time these two countries have been tied up in conflict with one another -- Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947 and see skirmishes on the borders every now and then. But this is the first time in a long time that the conflict has escalated to aerial combat.

Every morning, I logged onto Twitter to see a disheartening amount of Tweets from actors, artists, journalists and everyday people from both sides of the border excitedly boasting about the strikes their respective military had conducted the night before and calling for further escalation of a conflict that seemed to be leading to an all-out war.

That is until yesterday when in both Pakistan and India the hashtag #SayNoToWar broke through all of the vile words of hatred and warmongering and began to trend across the South Asia region and then eventually worldwide. The hashtag, appealing for defusing the situation and calling on others to do the same, was an uplifting reminder that the digital connectivity we see in the world today can bring people together in ways we haven’t seen before -- in a way that allows you to humanize and empathize with those you’ve been told to believe are the ‘enemy’ or the ‘other’. I hope you’ll do your part to spread peace, not war. On Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or whatever you use, join me in the campaign to#SayNoToWar.

Commentary by Areej Elahi | Communications Intern | PeaceTech Lab