Almost exactly 70 years ago, Indian troops arrived in Kashmir to support its ruler’s decision to accede to India. The subsequent division of Kashmir between India and Pakistan has sparked occasional conflict between the two countries, and since 1989 Indian Kashmir has suffered from an ongoing insurgency, reflecting both discontent among Indian Kashmiris at poor governance as well as meddling from Pakistan.

The grievances of Kashmiris are manifold – unemployment and corruption are major concerns – and over the years the state response to protests involved human rights abuses which have fed into the cycle of resentment. While successive Indian governments have recognized the need for a political dialogue – and some form of political settlement – they have been loath to start a dialogue while significant protests are taking place.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every year, or at the least every other year, there arrive seasons of killing and mourning in the valley of Kashmir. On Sunday, April 9, elections were held for a parliamentary seat left vacant in the main city of Srinagar after a lawmaker resigned in protest against last summer’s killings. A majority stayed away, with only 7 percent turning up to vote.

Young Kashmiris — fed up, brutalized, growing up in the most densely militarized zone in the world — surrounded polling stations to protest Indian rule. Some protesters threw stones at the polling booths and the troops stationed there. The troops responded as they do, with shooting, beating and blinding protesters and bystanders alike.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last September, a lawmaker in Indian-controlled Kashmir stood up in the state’s legislative assembly and spoke of a valley filled with human carcasses near his home constituency in the mountains: “In our area, there are big gorges, where there are the bones of several hundred people who were eaten by crows.”

I read about this in faraway London and was filled with a chill — I had written of a similar valley, a fictional one, in my novel about the lost boys of Kashmir. The assembly was debating a report on the uncovering of more than 2,000 unmarked and mass graves not far from the Line of Control that divides Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.…  Seguir leyendo »

Une fois n’est pas coutume, de bonnes nouvelles émergent d’Asie du Sud, l’une des régions les plus troublées de la planète. De la guerre en Afghanistan à la rivalité historique entre l’Inde et le Pakistan (deux Etats nucléaires) en passant par la lutte d’influence entre l’Inde et la Chine (autre puissance nucléaire), les foyers de crise n’y manquent pas. Ils se nourrissent même mutuellement dans une spirale triangulaire alimentant une inquiétante course aux armements.

Le Pakistan aurait déjà accumulé une centaine d’armes nucléaires. L’Inde, de son côté, s’impose désormais comme le premier importateur d’armes au monde. Illustration de son obsession chinoise, New Delhi a effectué avec succès, jeudi 19 avril, un tir d’essai d’un missile de longue portée.…  Seguir leyendo »

A subtle shift may be occurring in one of the world’s longest-standing and most intractable conflicts – the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Increasingly, it seems, Pakistanis are questioning what the Kashmir dispute has done to their own state and society.

When Pakistan was carved out of India by the departing British in the 1947 Partition, the 562 “princely states” (regions nominally ruled by assorted potentates, but owing allegiance to the British Raj) were required to accede to either of the two new countries. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir – a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu ruler – dithered over which of the two to join, and flirted with the idea of remaining independent.…  Seguir leyendo »

A week before he was elected in 2008, President Obama said that solving the dispute over Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination — which has led to three wars between India and Pakistan since 1947 — would be among his “critical tasks.” His remarks were greeted with consternation in India, and he has said almost nothing about Kashmir since then.

But on Monday, during his visit here, he pleased his hosts immensely by saying the United States would not intervene in Kashmir and announcing his support for India’s seat on the United Nations Security Council. While he spoke eloquently about threats of terrorism, he kept quiet about human rights abuses in Kashmir.…  Seguir leyendo »

A few days back I travelled to Batamaloo neighbourhood in Srinagar, the capital city of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Coils of barbed wire blocked the desolate roads; thousands of Indian soldiers patrolled the streets to enforce a strict military curfew. I couldn’t reach the man I wanted to meet and finally managed to speak to him on the phone.

On 2 August Fayaz Rah, a 39-year-old fruit vendor from Batamaloo, had lunch with his wife and three children. Outside, Indian troops enforced the curfew. Yet the children would find a clearing or a courtyard to play cricket or imitate the adults and raise a slogan for Kashmir’s independence from India.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 02/12/08):

Midway through last week’s murderous rampage in Mumbai, one of the suspected gunmen at the besieged Jewish center called a popular Indian TV channel. Speaking in Urdu (the primary language of Pakistan and many Indian Muslims), he ranted against the recent visit of an Israeli general to the Indian-ruled section of the Kashmir Valley. Referring to the Pakistan-backed insurgency in the valley, and the Indian military response to it, he asked, “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?”

In a separate phone call, another gunman invoked the oppression of Muslims by Hindu nationalists and the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Bronwen Maddox (THE TIMES, 01/12/08):

Yesterday a Pakistani security official said that if India now put more forces on to the disputed Kashmir border, the Pakistani Army would do likewise. By the way, that would mean that Pakistan put less effort into fighting the Taleban on its western border, he added, in an unsubtle warning to the US and Britain. Pakistan understands only too well that for the West its border with Afghanistan represents the frontline in the war on terror.

On the Pakistani side priorities are different. As the calls go up for a clampdown on terrorists, Islamabad’s most urgent desire is not for a Nato-defined victory, but for a peaceful life on its Afghan border.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Pankaj Mishra, the author, most recently, of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27/08/08):

For more than a week now, hundreds of thousands of Muslims have filled the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir, shouting “azadi” (freedom) and raising the green flag of Islam. These demonstrations, the largest in nearly two decades, remind many of us why in 2000 President Bill Clinton described Kashmir, the Himalayan region claimed by both India and Pakistan, as “the most dangerous place on earth.”

Mr. Clinton sounded a bit hyperbolic back then.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Nirpal Dhaliwal (THE TIMES, 08/12/06):

The Times made a glib and reckless analogy when it urged India to listen to the overtures of General Musharraf and adopt the “Andorra solution” for the troubled border region of Kashmir. The President of Pakistan said this week that he was willing to drop his country’s demand for an independent Kashmir if the disputed region was given autonomy, with Delhi and Islamabad sharing sovereignty.

But France and Spain’s dual sovereignty over the tiny statelet of Andorra only works because both nations are responsible democracies that can be trusted to act in good faith. The same cannot be said of Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »