Peace for Kashmir?

By Prerna Suri in on February 25th, 2010

Photo from AFP

While India and Pakistan come together for talks on issues including Kashmir, the people of Srinagar simply want an end to the violence.

Just how much violence is enough?

Kashmiris, who’ve suffered years of political bickering between India and Pakistan, say they’ve suffered enough.

As India and Pakistan talk on the tables on all issues – including Kashmir – in New Delhi today, people in Srinagar just want to be left alone.

Sitting inside the historic Jama Masjid during afternoon prayers, the scene is almost melancholic. The sermon goes on, devotees repeat verses from the holy Quran and women pray, many for their lost sons.

The much-talked about but elusive peace process hasn’t reached here yet.

A woman sitting next to me weeps as she prays. I ask her why – and find out she lost her only son to the insurgency a year ago. She doesn’t blame India or Pakistan for this. Only hatred.

“What did my son do? He wasn’t with either India or Pakistan. He was just playing in the market when an encounter happened. As long as we have politicians with vested interests in power, there’s no hope for our land.”

Similar sentiments are echoed across Srinagar.

At Cafe Arabaica on Broadway Street, the most popular and perhaps only space for young Kashmiri people, I bump into Aliya.

At 21, she knows more about the politics of this place than I can ever claim to.

She tells me she doesn’t want to be either Pakistani or Indian. She’s happy being a Kashmiri. But she says, in her wisdom, politicians won’t let Kashmiris be.

“All we want are jobs, food and electricity – we don’t care which side it comes from. Politicians play with our lives constantly,” she says.

Her candid words make her one among thousands of others others who simply want a Kashmir free of violence, anger and fear. A Kashmir where the voices of the voiceless are truly heard and not just debated.

Is such a Kashmir possible? Will the India-Pakistan talks help progress the peace process in any way?

What do you think?

[original]

spotted by RS

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