books

About Kashmir by Thomas-Xavier Christiane

Imagine a tree. The very simple concept of a trunk made of wood with branches and leafs. A universal artifact that represents Nature itself. If two people from a completely different culture were in front of this tree, they would see the same tree but differently. This very simple difference of perception could be the reason of a lack of mutual understanding that would result in fear and, eventually, violence. However and despite this, these two people are also supposed to imagine their future together in the eventuality of building a globalized system.

The Kashmir valley is located somewhere between India and Pakistan in the Western part of the Himalaya near Afghanistan and China. Since India and Pakistan have formally become self-governed nations in 1947, a dispute has been going on to determine which one of the two republics had a legitimate sovereignty over this valley. In 2018, after three wars, the development of a nuclear arsenal by both countries and the intense militarization of the valley, the dispute is still pending. In Srinagar, the winter capital of the Indian-administrated part of Kashmir, the locals describe this dispute as “the situation”. This consists of the difficult position that they have to balance between the Pakistani influence of terror or the brutality of a military dictatorship imposed by “India”, the ideological struggle for freedom and the obvious violences that results from this perpetual state of confusion. In this context, several dozens of thousands of people have died, ten thousands are reported as disappeared and every single aspect of life is under the rule of the goodwill of death, the temporary sovereign of Kashmir.

During 100 days, I have been there and I embedded myself in the daily-life of the Kashmiris. I have met students, human rights activists, journalists, members of the security forces and people who just want to live their life without interferences. With them, I have exchanged with honesty about the gaps of perception between them and me, I have discussed personal stuff in order to get to know their hopes and expectations for their individual life and I have shared the rough aspects of living in a remote mountain conflict zone with electricity shortages happening on a daily basis. Additionally, I have discovered the dangers of Kashmir: the security forces, the perversions of traumatized people and the feelings of the militants. The narrative that result from this experience is a philosophical questioning on several contemporary global issues and the adventures of a Belgian auto-proclaimed and partially-educated marginal liberal millennial thinker in what he describes as a traditional Islamic society.

 

Categories: books, ebooks, nonfiction

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