Aliya Harir

Aliya grew up in the remote Chitral province of Pakistan, where she faced persecution and discrimination both as part of the Ismaili minority and as a woman.

As a young adult, she fell seriously ill, and it was while she was in hospital in Pakistan and was tended to by both Pakistani and Indian staff, that her established cultural ideas on the “enemy” (India) shifted. She completed her post-graduate degree in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and was inspired to actively promote peace between nations with deeply ingrained and long-standing conflict.

It was following this that she met Devika Mittal while promoting her Indo-Pak-Afghan Painting for Peace event on social media. Aliya and Devika discussed cultural and political issues of the tensions of the two countries and co-founded the Indo-Pak friendship initiative, Aaghaz-e-Dozi, translating as “Beginning of Friendship”. The initiative works through interactive sessions in schools and colleges, connects a school in India with a school in Pakistan to promote peace and understanding at a classroom level between students, and also runs an eight week long virtual peace building programmes called “Friends Beyond Borders”.

After leaving Aaghaz-e-Dozi in May 2017, Aliya has become a youth ambassador of change for the Global Youth Peace Festival (GYPF) based in India. The project’s objectives are to “promote peace, equality and living in harmony with nature, [and] provide challenging intercultural learning experiences for your people”. Aliya is the Programs Officer for Justice, Aid, and Development Foundation for GYPF, and advocates for a world where young people are empowered, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or gender.