It wasn’t a trick question. Pakistan was playing India. Both were arch rivals. Emotions were running high and both countries would much rather lose the World Cup final than surrender to a friendly match against the other. Of course, Asif was going to support India and so too would Rehman; as he thought so. But Rehman’s allegiance lied in another side of the border. This would be unheard of in another part of India but we were in Kashmir Valley – which is an erstwhile paradise, now divided and lost to the wars fought over it between two twin nations. The fault lines running through the Kashmiri hearts divide their allegiance. It was not long ago when five Kashmiri university students were arrested on charges of sedition; merely for cheering for Pakistan.
What do the Indian and Pakistani governments have in common? Both claim to love the Kashmiris. But the two countries that have fought three wars over Kashmir since partition in 1947 have a funny way of showing their love. India’s President talks of equal rights while Human Rights take a backseat at the Indian administered Kashmir. The country has at least half a million troops there, having at least one soldier for every 25 residents (CENSUS ORGANIZATION OF INDIA, 2011). The soldiers who were accused of acting with near impunity have been blamed for unlawful killings, disappearances, rape, and torture (AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, SEPTEMBER 2013). One study in 2012 found the number of unmarked graves in India-administered Kashmir stood at more than 6,000 (STATE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR, 2012). As of 2015, according to human rights groups, torture remained an institutionalized policy of the Indian security forces (Source: JAMMU KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY, 2015).
Sadly, on the Pakistani side of the infamous line of control things don’t look that much better. Torture, political repression, arbitrary arrests, and beatings have been reported from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, SEPTEMBER 2006). Then there is a long documented Pakistani support for a number of violent groups that in the name of fighting for Kashmiri freedom have ended up killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children across Indian-administered Kashmir. Since 2005 there have been at least 35 suicide attacks by armed groups (SOUTH ASIA TERRORISM PORTAL, JULY 2016). As in for Kashmiri freedom, India refused to allow a referendum on Kashmiri’s future while the Pakistanis want Kashmiris to choose between India and Pakistan but not give them an option for independence. Here’s the thing though: when Kashmiris on both sides of the line of control have been asked what they want, being independent of both India and Pakistan was the most popular choice as of today (UK CHATHAM HOUSE POLL OF BOTH SIDES OF THE LINE OF CONTROL, MAY 2010). The poll resulted in 43% wanting independence, 21% to be under India and 15% to be under Pakistan. Today, Kashmir still remains the site of the world’s largest and most militarized territorial dispute (CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, 2016). Yet, the governments of India and Pakistan just love the Kashmiris. Some might say they love them to death.
As Asif and Rehman set out, the hovering twilight sky lends out its purple hue to the river lying beneath. Both Similar yet inverted tableaus and separated by the horizon line; like India and Pakistan, alike, but apart. Neither the vastness of the sky nor the transitory flowing of the water lay any claim over the valley. But the paired nations fight to claim dominion over the valley.
Link To Article: https://youth-journal.org/the-dividing-allegiance-a-never-ending-paradox-of-geopoliti