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 without a final plan for peace, local Kashmiris are stranded between two rival states, militants on the move, and a monstrous military machine–with over 700,000 troops–patrolling the tiny valley of mountains, lakes, and idyllic gardens.

3 Reasons Why Kashmir Matters

  1. Location. Kashmir is strategically located between India and Pakistan and has been the flashpoint for a nuclear war, or so it may be if the two countries continue tit-for-tat violence along the forested border. 
  2. Water. India and Pakistan depend on Kashmir’s flowing rivers. Glacial waters also provide electricity to millions in both South Asian countries.
  3. People. Kashmiris deserve to live peacefully, without the threat of war, violent attacks, intimidation tactics, and a mean military.

Undoubtedly, as is true in any conflict, women suffer the most. And yet, Kashmiri women survive. 

On this day, the United Nations in Geneva hosted a panel to recognize the women of Kashmir. Here is my statement:

Let me begin with a short story:

Her face is forever etched in my memory.

They called her the lonely mother. I knew her as Mugli, an elderly woman who spent nearly 20 years looking for the son she lost.

Many years ago, her son left home to teach math and he never returned. Mugli searched for him everywhere, hoping to find her only child, but it was no use.

He was gone.

Her son became among thousands of Kashmiri boys and men who disappeared. When I met her in her home, Mugli told me, “I want to hug his grave.”

When I left Kashmir, Mugli died. With a broken heart.

Mugli is only one Kashmiri woman that I have written about in my book, aptly titled Secrets of the Kashmir Valley, to highlight the secrets that people held onto to safeguard their lives. In the book, the story of Mugli is told so that I could preserve her memory. I believed that writing about her would help me keep her and other women of courage and grace alive in my mind.

Like Mugli, the women in Kashmir today continue to endure hardship and hurdles.

They struggle, sacrifice, and survive human tragedy.

And yet, somehow, they have learned to live in an age of conflict and terrorism.

Despite their losses, Kashmiri women are resilient and ready for change. They are protestors, political prisoners, and political activists. They march. They chant and best of all, they stand by their men to support the freedom movement.

However, in light of recent events, a Kashmiri woman’s dream of Wonderland is snared by the political trappings of an imagined war between India and Pakistan, two arch rivals with no clear goal to resolve the valley’s ongoing quagmire.

As an American, I share Kashmir’s call for change but have yet to find a meaningful solution from Washington.

In a post-Obama administration, Kashmir is a silent subject and will likely remain insignificant to American policymakers until and unless a major terrorist attack threatens U.S. national security interests in South Asia; unless there is the threat of regional war between India and Pakistan; or unless women’s voices are amplified in the Western media to prompt a political shift to the stagnant status quo. 

After years of writing about Kashmir, I have learned one important lesson: that women are the harbingers of political, social and economic progress in the valley.

Because I believe in the strength of Kashmiri women, I know they will survive the current political plague; they will survive the brutalities and barbarism of India’s heavy-handed tactics to suppress freedom fighters; and women will certainly survive the theatrics of border wars to do what they do best: shelter their loved ones so they can live another day.

 

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