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 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 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...]

Elections in Kashmir Set a Historic Precedent

In winter 2014, elections in Indian-held Kashmir should have been a benchmark for change. But the opposite occurred. The local government came to a standstill. And the Indian Army took control of the valley until the Governor stepped in. The French historian Alexis de Tocqueville said, "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness." For decades, Kashmir looked as … [Read more...]

Turn the Lights Back On in Kashmir

The lights went out. Again. A man in his mid-forties, Yaqoub, headed to the local mosque, grabbed the microphone, and called on the residents of Pulwama District in Indian-held Kashmir to take to the streets. “It’s enough!” he exclaimed. “We need power! Now!” The event occurred after Magrib, or sunset prayer, when residents, mostly men, headed for the power station. Together, they walked nearly … [Read more...]

Female bombers – a dangerous trend emerges in Pakistan

The sensationalist Newsweek cover of Pakistan’s magazine on female suicide bombers with tampons as dynamites raises again awareness and calls attention to a threat that goes unnoticed. And while I agree that the story of female bombers worldwide is important, I object to the title “More and More Women Are Finding Their True Calling As Suicide Bombers.” Had this been true, the number of suicide … [Read more...]

It’s time we learn to respect border disputes

In my current class, I learned something powerful from a civil affairs officer in the U.S. Army.  Yesterday, we were talking about Kashmir, a valley that lies between India and Pakistan. These days, the world’s most beautiful place is in turmoil. Again. Just because youth activists chanted anti-India slogans in the town of Kishtwar in Indian-held Kashmir. Though more seriously, the region … [Read more...]

Wish of a Martyr

If I cannot live, then I want to die.       Sadia had the most beautiful eyes. A vivid blend of azure and slate gray, which matched her abaya, an ankle-length Islamic dress. A symbol of a woman’s modesty and moral character. In July, the city of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir was calm. South Indian travellers flooded Daal Lake in their crimson red and … [Read more...]

Why Do Women Protest?

Women take to the streets. They march. They chant. They shout slogans of freedom. All dressed in black. Some wear the face veil, revealing only their dark eyes. Others carry banners with political passages. One woman wrapped in white kneeled to the ground. In red paint, the letters on her back read United Nations, where are you? The women wear bright green headbands with white Arabic … [Read more...]

A Tribute to Mugli

For nearly twenty years, Mugli looked for her son. But she never found him. And then she died. I met Mugli in November 2008 in the city of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir. She was not strikingly different. Her face was marked with heavy lines. Though her subtle smiles and graceful gestures were instantly comforting. She could hide her trauma well. Like hundreds of mothers in … [Read more...]

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