The dilemma of Kashmir’s half-widows

Decades of conflict have produced many ‘half-widows’ whose husbands have disappeared but are not declared deceased.

Decked by thick deodar forests, terraced corn fields, apple orchards and jagged mountains, the hamlet of Dardpora tucked in the northern rim of Indian-administered Kashmir looks idyllic.

But scratch a little deeper and the wounds of decades of conflict sweeping across the region open up when its 300-odd widows and ‘half widows’ (women whose husbands have disappeared but not yet been declared deceased) describe the pain of losing their husbands in course of the ongoing rebellion.
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Kashmir’s half-widows

‘Jammu and Kashmir in India is one of the world’s most militarized regions. Six to seven hundred thousand Indian troops are stationed in a region with over 11 million residents. The women have been hard hit by the conflict.

They are raped and imprisoned, their husbands and sons have disappeared’, says Ghazala Peer. A lawyer and women’s rights activist, though no ‘celebrity’, Ghazala does research on violations of women’s rights in Kashmir.
‘The conflict in Kashmir affects the lives of both men and women. It is about the violation of human rights but also the rights of women. Women are also subjected to sexual violence,’ she says.

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Kashmir in focus – part 1: Where’s the ‘Azad’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir?



They have Pakistani identity cards and passports – but are not quite Pakistani. Their homeland is autonomous, but not quite so. It has a Constitution – but one that is perpetually interim. They have a government and an assembly, but both of which are effectively powerless.

It is a land and a people with a past, and perhaps a future – but with no present.

Welcome to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK): A virtual no-man’s-land, which will go to the polls this Sunday – but it is not quite clear what for.

❱ Read more: Kashmir in focus – part 1: Where’s the ‘Azad’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir?

Human Rights in Pak-Occupied Kashmir: Screams of the Oppressed by Sreeram Sundar Chaulia

On 28th May 1999, the Supreme Court of Pakistan delivered a stinging broadside of Islamabad’s oppressive, undemocratic and colonial subjugation of the Northern Areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, pronouncing “it was not understandable on what basis the people of Northern Areas can be denied the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution” i.e. right to equality before law, right to reside and move freely, right to vote, right to be governed by their chosen representatives, right to form political parties, right to assemble peacefully, right to freedom of speech and expression, right to habeas corpus and against illegal detention, right to acquire, hold and dispose property, and the right to have access to an appellate court of justice for the enforcement of all other rights guaranteed under the latest constitution of the country (since independence, Pakistan has devised and binned three written constitutions and the standing fourth one was drawn up in 1985). The verdict was an eye opener to the world on the brutality, abuses and exactions perpetrated upon the five million inhabitants of POK and a vindication of the long-standing efforts of human rights activists within and outside the country to alter the grossly unfair treatment meted out to what is officially called “Azad Kashmir.”
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How Azad is `Azad Kashmir’ By Sultan Shaheen

If you want to study the situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and cannot go to even the minuscule part of this region designated as `Azad Kashmir’, the best place to go to is England. Bradford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Luton, Slough and Southall are perhaps even better sources of information about the POK than Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bagh Rawalakot and Kotli. For the Kashmiris living in Britain breathe free air that it not much available in the so-called Azad Kashmir. Even if you so much as apply for a job you have to sign an affidavit saying you believe in the ideology of “Kashmir banega Pakistan” (Kashmir will become Pakistan).
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Azad Kashmir or Pakistani occupied Kashmir – Dr Shabir Choudhry

September 2011. The former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided between India and Pakistan; and people suffer on both sides of the divide with varying degrees. Whereas every aspect of suffering is highlighted in the Indian side of the divide, very little is said about what goes on in the Pakistani side. This article explains some of the situation in a territory known as Azad Kashmir.

Pakistan has two territories of State of Jammu and Kashmir under its control, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Although Azad Kashmir has its own President, Prime Minister, its own flag, but the territory is not azad or independent by any stretch of imagination. Human Rights Watch (and some other international NGOs) described Azad Kashmir as anything but “Azad”; and it is because of this fact the territory is also known as Pakistani occupied Kashmir.
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