An Inside Look At A New Book Titled Snowfall in Kashmir

Kashmir is an active conflict. As I have written in my book and numerous articles, the place I call "Wonderland" is unsettling and unpredictable. The valley of death is also described as Paradise on earth. My first visit to Kashmir helped me see the conflict through the eyes of women and their men. The brief periods I spent in Kashmir tormented me for years to come. I never thought I would fall … [Read more...]

Life in Kashmir: Can You Imagine Living In A Place Without The Internet?

Most people I know would go crazy if they had to live in a place without full-time access to the Internet. But this is exactly what is happening in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where local residents--especially in the southern region--are constantly threatened with media blackout, Internet shutdowns, and curfews in the name of "national security." That's a buzz word for "chasing terrorists." Yes, … [Read more...]

A Love Affair With Kashmir, The Forever Conflict

  I did not plan to fall in love with Kashmir, the forever conflict, or its people. When I visited Wonderland, I could not have predicted the profound effect it would have on the way I would see and understand a protracted conflict: the spoils of war; the senseless violence; the widows and families left behind; and the endless political quagmire.  Over the past year, since the release of … [Read more...]

3 Reasons Why the Conflict in Kashmir Should Not Be Ignored by Anyone

The Kashmir conflict has raged on for more than 70 years and cost thousands of lives as well as put the entire South Asia at risk of war, which is why the conflict in Kashmir should not ignored by anyone. The conflict in the valley of Kashmir is a human tragedy. Nuclear-armed countries India and Pakistan have proven incapable of finding a viable political solution to an ancient conflict. And … [Read more...]

A Message To The Army: You Just Can’t Kill Anyone

A month ago, there was a siege in a village. A contact, who will remain unnamed for security reasons, gave me a horrific account of the military madness that took place in the pristine valley of Kashmir.  They did it again. They shot four boys in our neighborhood. One was fifteen-years old. Oh God, I thought. He is too young to die. He belongs to someone. I could not (did not want to) … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part Three

As her daughter, I’m often amazed at how unwounded my mother is. She would readily admit that ‘war changes everything and everyone.” It changed the way women behaved. The way they planned their day, and how they interacted with one another, choosing carefully their messages and maxims with outsiders. War could leave deep wounds that would never heal, but somehow, it didn’t mark my mother. Or at … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part One

As an immigrant child, I learned about war at home. I listened to stories of countries born out of conflict; women taking up arms for national pride; and the speeches, songs, and scholarship created by women to fight their oppressors. Growing up in Texas, I learned about female fighters from Mama's war stories. As a child, I wanted to know why my mother chose to join the Army; why she rallied for … [Read more...]

5 Ways To Write About War And Women

Conflict has the potential to teach. In writing, there is always the drive to want to tell every war story. For the past twenty years, I’ve been traveling in and out of dangerous places, moving from one conflict to another, in search for the truth. Hoping to find that magical or mysterious story the world needs to know about a people barely surviving the trappings of war. Years of traveling … [Read more...]

The Pakistan I Thought I Knew: Part Four

There is an image that lingers on silent nights. The shifting patterns of house lights in play in Azad Kashmir, or Free Kashmir, situated in northern Pakistan in the city of Muzaffarabad. The suffocating closeness of that city to refugee camps and rain-glazed trees where leaves sagged toward another winter leave an indelible mark.The city is the strangest place I have ever visited. To many, it is … [Read more...]

The Women of Kashmir Survive the Spoils of War

For years, I lived Kashmir. I dreamt of the women featured in this book. For awhile, they were like family. I knew intimate details of their lives. Even though I was their American guest, they gave me more than stories to be recorded in a book. They gave me a slice of modern history--the untold histories of women, the survivors of a 60-year-plus conflict. The women of this book form a community … [Read more...]

The Story of Mughli, A Mother Who Died Searching For Her Son

An enlarged black-and-white photo hangs in my home office. When I see her, I am reminded of why I write about women inc conflict. Many years ago, I had written a post about Mughli, a woman in Indian-held Kashmir who never stopped looking for her son. I write about women in war because women like Mughli deserve to be known. When a mother like Mughli loses a child, she no longer wants to live.Women … [Read more...]

Human Rights Challenges for Women in Indian-Held Kashmir

Raising awareness on women in conflict is one small way to inform and invest in a community that is grappling with unspeakable and unthinkable acts of violence. For over a decade, I have interviewed Kashmiri men and women--some in the valley and others from afar--to understand their struggles and sacrifices. To the Kashmiri people, including famed writer Basharat Peer, the conflict has become … [Read more...]

Why Women Protest in Kashmir

Women protest to reclaim their land, protect their families, and preserve their honor. In recent years, women in Kashmir have played a more active role by taking to the streets to make themselves known. I've heard many women tell me they are valued when they join their sons, husbands and other male family members to fight for a free Kashmir. Others use protests to oppose human rights violations … [Read more...]

Why America should care about Kashmir

Kashmir has been my focus for over a decade. Sadly, the bowl-shaped valley that straddles both India and Pakistan is largely ignored by American policymakers and security analysts. I suppose I can understand why America is concerned with the Middle East. Once moderately stable but autocratic countries, such as Iraq, Syria, and Egypt increasingly look like a mess. But a shift away from South … [Read more...]