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[10 Oct 2010 | One Comment | ]

In attempting to suffocate a separate Kashmiri identity, India reveals the cracks in its own idea of nationhood, argues Nitasha Kaul

Parts of present-day Kashmir are occupied by India, Pakistan, and China. When you try to locate the territory of Kashmir on a world map, you will find it partitioned into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK, called ‘Azaad Kashmir’ and ‘Northern Areas’, in Pakistan), India Occupied Kashmir (IOK, called ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ including ‘Ladakh’, in India), and areas such as Aksai Chin and Shaksam Valley under Chinese control (part of ‘Xinjiang autonomous region’ in China).

Yet, even as it is devoured by the big states that surround it, Kashmir cannot be understood through the simplistic framing of ‘India versus Pakistan’, ‘Hindu versus Muslim’, or ‘China allied with Pakistan versus India’. Instead, see Kashmir as a vital link in the Himalayan mountain chain; a historic part of the Silk Route, that is now a violent battleground. Why? Because people in none of these three regions identify themselves as primarily and ‘above all’ Pakistani, Indian, or Chinese. Neither should they be forced to.