Sarmad Iqbal is a Pakistani writer, blogger and student who has a penchant for reading, writing, learning languages, studying cultures, religions and Geo-Political affairs. His articles have been published in Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper, Daily Times, Dunya Blogs, ARY Blogs, Parhlo, the Times of Israel, International Policy Digest, the Algemeiner, BuzzFeed USA, Youth Ki Awaaz, the Jerusalem Post, in the Armenian Weekly, Massis Post, The Quint and also in American Comeback magazine. Sarmad has often confessed his love for Armenia and Armenians in his author columns and blogs in leading Pakistani as well as International newspapers like Daily Times and Armenian Weekly. Sarmad Iqbal is just 20 years old but his determination to achieve something higher and to leave behind a legacy through his articles and peace initiatives has distinguished him from million other young adults who belong to the same age group as him.
We got the opportunity to talk with Sarmad about his peace initiative to bring people of Armenia and Pakistan together through his articles on common words between Armenian and Urdu language as well as on Harissa (a food dish which is being highly revered in both countries). Our reporter asked him a few questions. Let’s have a look at them.
Aypoupen Reporter: Have you ever been to Armenia?
Sarmad Iqbal: No, I have never been to Armenia but it’s one of my biggest desires to visit Armenia once in my life. It’s my biggest desire to visit Yerevan and Gyumri and all the historical monasteries and churches like Geghard.I have always been eager to visit monuments like Temple of Garni and Tatev Monastery and gifts of nature like Lake Sevan which your great country Armenia has in its possession. I have always desired to see the awe-inspiring architecture of Yerevan visible in enthralling monuments like Cafesjian Museum at the Cascades, Sculpture Park and also notably the buildings in and around Yerevan’s Republic Square. I wish one day my desire to visit your great country Armenia will come true.
Aypoupen Reporter: When did you start liking Armenia and Armenians?
Sarmad Iqbal: I have always been quite curious and eager about exploring Armenia, as it is a country with which my country’s relations are almost nonexistent, and that nonexistent part was enough to augment my curiosity to explore Armenia. However, I cannot travel to Armenia as a Pakistani citizen because of nonexistent Armenia-Pakistan relations and nonexistent Armenian embassies or consulates in Pakistan.
Because of all such barriers to accessing Armenia and Armenians, I decided to explore Armenia through the medium of music and TV series. I have been vehemently against all the anti-Armenian one-dimensional and biased coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan by my country’s media, and that biased media coverage also played a pivotal role in my exploration of what Armenia really is. Is it really such a “bad” country? The only thing reported about Armenia in Pakistani newspapers or news channels, and only too occasionally, is that “Armenia is killing Azerbaijani brothers of Pakistan.” That biased media coverage also irked me and furthered my curiosity to explore Armenia. Armenian pop music and TV series, like Full House, were my only resort to exploring an Armenia that is different from the one portrayed in Pakistani, Turkish, and Azerbaijani media.
Aypoupen Reporter: What do you think about Pakistani government’s hostile stance towards Armenia?
Sarmad Iqbal: I lament the anti-Armenian rhetoric which has been pursued by the honorable government of my homeland unfortunately for years. I would love to see our two great nations as two great friends in near future.
Aypoupen Reporter: What do you like about Armenia most?
Sarmad Iqbal: I have always seen Armenia as an amalgam of old and new, possessing both a glorious past and a progressive present, and a potentially progressive future. Armenian culture is a beautiful mélange of Western and Eastern values (more specifically East European and Middle Eastern values). Armenia for me isn’t just a country that Kardashians, Cher, and Charles Aznavour have made popular globally. Armenia for me is a cradle of civilization, a land of unspoiled beauty with its snow-peaked mountains, lush green valleys, and life-giving rivers which I have seen in different online documentaries about Armenia, out of my curiosity to know more about this great nation.
Aypoupen Reporter: What’s your favorite Armenian food dish?
Sarmad Iqbal: Apart from Harissa which is a highly revered food dish for both Armenians and Pakistani Kashmiris and to whom I had also devoted a whole article, I would love to indulge in savoring and relishing Khachapuri as well as Armenian flatbread Lavash.
Aypoupen Reporter: What’s your message to people in Armenia?
Sarmad Iqbal: Lots of love and respect from my side to all Armenians. I want to express my gratitude to all my Armenian friends out there who have loved my articles about their great country by uttering this beautiful Armenian phrase “Shnorhakalutyun”. Keep loving me and supporting me in my mission of spreading peace and love between Pakistan and Armenia. And please don’t forget to follow me at my Twitter id @sarmadiqbal7 and my Facebook id https://www.facebook.com/sarmad.iqbal3 for more updates on my articles on my love for Armenia and Armenians from Pakistan.