By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Picture right below Bashart Peer
American author and academic Alastair Lamb wrote of the Kashmir dispute as “incomplete partition”. He wrote that had it not been for the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan and India might have worked out their differences and existed as two prosperous nations “evolving towards each other” –which was the stated objective of partition in the first place- instead of away from each other. The cleavage instead has widened and Kashmir remains etched in the consciousness of Indians and Pakistanis – both anxious to claim it to complete themselves. So Basharat Peer’s memoir epitomizes the effect of this incompleteness that both Indians and Pakistanis have brought to bear on the lives of hapless Kashmiris.
“Curfewed Night” is a chronicle from the eyes of a Kashmiri growing up in the valley and watching it transform into a hotbed of violent militancy pitted against state oppression. It is also about a people unwilling to lose their identity. What is it about identity anyway that causes people to sacrifice their future in its name? Identity is the most powerful mobilizing force in history. But what happens when identity gets into a perpetual conflict with those who wish to crush it? Does identity dissipate? Kashmir has been ill-served by India, by Pakistan, by the militants and by its own politicians who have failed to work out a compromise. It has turned the serene valley into the bloodied nose of Asia. Continue reading