Will you be Kashmir’s saviour?

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I regularly follow your page and have read all your books. I must say, it’s been an honour. Recently, I saw a short video, some narrations, and a few pictures of your work regarding Syrian refugees. I am impatiently awaiting a detailed account and I am more than desperate to uncover the reality about the Syrian refugees.

Being a Kashmiri and residing in Karachi and Lahore, I dare invite your pen to a misery which is larger than the academic and legal definition of a refugee. The United Nations (UN) probably calls them Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and hence the title drops to a lower level of mercy and compassion. Reasons for the UN doing so are understandable in a political context, yet the misery we encounter knows no politics and understands no legalities.

Our world has nothing to offer them except pushing them back into the same callous hands that further their pain and agony. Even if our crisis is a worldly concern, everyone seems comfortable in conveniently ignoring it. It seems as if they are suffering from an illness, probably collective dementia.

Kashmir is not a story about a border dispute between two countries or an administrative anomaly – it is the dying question of the lives and deaths of millions, elbowed away by political hoodwinking, lost in the labyrinth of officialdom and it is slowly fading away from our memories, even its own natives.

Kashmir is definitely on the UN agenda and resolutions were passed by the Security Council pledging a plebiscite for all the parts of Kashmir which have conveniently been divided amongst India, Pakistan and China. Amongst the backdrop of the Middle East and South Asia’s ambitious nuclear plans, Kashmir remains a burning and forgotten landscape.

The people of Kashmir who were displaced during the uprising in the early 90s are now living in various camps which are not worthy of even being called a camp. They mock the official name of Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir) to Azab Kashmir (painful Kashmir). Amongst the long list of things they have lost, their wits stay intact.

Kashmiri refugees are on top of every ‘to-do list’ of every new government in Pakistani Kashmir. These refugees get a monthly allowance from the government budget and have limited access to basic health and education, somewhat lesser than what common Kashmiri citizens have. Their camps certainly do not compare to the hellish Jalozai camp. One can see a few tin roofs, broken or choked drains in the streets, houses which have not been plastered, a private school, few old versions of rusted Suzuki vans and a mosque with loudspeakers. Yet they are in misery, pain and suffering and none of this suffering is physical.

They are in their own country, have a Kashmiri nationality, and speak the same language, a language rich with history and literature. Yet, they remain to be strangers in their own homeland, living a parallel life along river Jhelum in shackles called the Mohajir Camp. They are lesser citizens, probably sons and daughters of a lesser God.

And all this is because Kashmir is a novelty, a messed up story of a nation which once had borders stretching up to central Asia, but now it is torn into pieces.

Who will tell their story to the world?

Multitudes have stories of despair and solitude to share – from travelogues to historical anecdotes to poems, like birdsongs composed by unsung poets in a rich language, Urdu.

Has anyone read or heard them?

Will anyone ever get a chance to?

Who can afford the pain of understanding words which cry out and images which narrate the century-old story of tyranny, cruelty and injustice?

Are you the one, Khaled Hosseini?

A Concerned Kashmiri Citizen

(An engineer by profession, he lives in Karachi and Lahore. Currently, he is senior advisor on a USAID-funded education program for the Government of Sindh. He tweets as :@Tausifkhawaja 

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