27 October, 2020

The Blood Brothers

At first, not much seems to unite both sides of divided Kashmir: traces of a language, a river, and a road along its banks. But the real link is the shadow of armed militancy.

The Blood Brothers
I'd always imagined that Pakistan's part of Kashmir would look and feel like the rest of the Valley. I'd expected broad, fertile meadows and mountains on the skyline. I'd anticipated a touch of central Asia about the architecture, with ample measure of the distinctive, almost pagoda-style mosques and shrines evident in Srinagar. I was soon disabused. Muzaffarabad has the feel of a UP hill town. The valley here is narrow, with steep mountains on all sides. There's none of the dreamy sense of space, none of the sky-blue lakes, and not much evidence of Kashmiriyat. It's a pleasant and prosperous little town, about a quarter of Srinagar's size, and rather awkwardly placed within the strip of the former princely state which Pakistan now calls Azad Kashmir. To get from Muzaffarabad, the capital, to the main population centre, Mirpur, you have to travel via Rawalpindi. The LoC—a line which follows no geographical logic—cuts across the main channels of communication.

Muzaffarabad is the only town on the Pakistan...


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