Following a government order, hospital rooftops were painted with Red Cross Plus signs, in the wake of threat of air strikes. Photograph by Bhat Burhan for The Kashmir Walla
Tensions are only growing between India and Pakistan. Aerial activity from Line of Control is fiery – from both the sides. After India, Pakistan has claimed to enter India’s airspace, and allegedly dropped bombs on the non-military deserted area on the way out. India claimed to have taken down one Pakistani fighter jet, while Pakistan claimed to have shoot down two Indian Air Force jets, and captured one of Indian Air Forces’ pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman.
Amid tensions, Pakistan produced the captured pilot, Wing Commander Mr. Varthaman, service number 27981, while later in the evening India’s Ministry of External Affairs commented that it is “Pakistan’s vulgar display of injured personnel of the Indian Air Force,” which they termed as a violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention, and demanded “immediate and safe return”.
National television anchors, sitting in the AC rooms, wired in, continuously calling for revenge is only getting louder. Soon, after India airstrike in Pakistan Khyber-Pakhtun area on Tuesday early morning, the war between India and Pakistan had started – on Twitter – Facebook and in news channel studios.
In-between the heated LoC, and fiery skies, Kashmiris, especially residing in the valley only looked up to the sky, counting and tracing the aerial flights. One Twitter user from the Valley wrote: “India: It was our turn. Pakistan: Now it is our turn. Kashmiris: Only waiting to see whose turn turns us down.”
The Kashmir Walla reached out to civilians from North, South, and Central zones of Valley to understand, how a common Kashmiri see such attacks.
Srinagar and Central Kashmir
Mohsin Hussain, hailing from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district believes that it is like a film which is being made for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India. “It’s a redundant film which is being re-released again and again,” he said.
War is not an option for both countries, talking to media, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti also said, “Only an illiterate, will call for war.”
Shahid-ul-Islam, a resident of Budgam district believes the war will lay a huge negative impact on people. “Now, Pakistan retaliated. They will not remain silent. War will not benefit any side,” he said.
But, Mohammad Yaseen, 50, a resident of Srinagar’s Soura area thinks that if there will be war, but this won’t make Kashmiris more vulnerable as “We have been handling issues for the last 30 years. But, I believe it would help BJP big times in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.”
Similar reactions came from Southern Kashmir. Notably, southerners are the highest victims of the ongoing conflict in the Valley in recent last years. Adil Ahmad Dar, the suicide bomber involved in the Pulwama attack was from Pulwama, south Kashmir.
“Everyone is afraid about the present situation right now. Every individual in my area is already frightened after the recent attack,” said Showkat Ahmad a resident of south Kashmir.
He cited the examples of recent attacks on Kashmiri students outside the Valley and added that everything is in chaos after it. Mr. Ahmad senses that the attack carried from Indian side on Pakistan can leave its harsh impacts on common people in the valley. “If there will be a war between them, we will suffer the most,” he said.
Surprisingly, in the past few days, people of the valley were seen storing the stocks from the market following several government orders. Amid chaos and fear which is clearly visible on the faces of people, various thoughts and questions are being discussed everywhere in the valley.
Mr. Ahmad added that the first victims of this war will be the people who live near the LOC. “They are in a more dangerous zone than us,” he said. Reportedly, several civilians were injured in the cross border shelling along LoC, while as one civilian was killed when an aircraft crashed in Budgam on Wednesday, in which six air-force officers died too.
The north has been anticipating every little update as well. Introspecting the impacts of the attacks carried by India on Pakistan, and vice-versa, people are worried over the fate for Kashmir.
“Being a local of the area, it is not good for the Kashmiris. War only leads to the destruction of life and property. Kashmir as well as both of the countries will get affected,” said Abdul Kareem Dar, a resident of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Mr. Dar also believes that war is not the solution for issues. “Not only India and Pakistan, but the whole world get affected if they will fight a war,” he said.
“Both countries should sit on a table and solve the issues peacefully. Every section of our society should stress on dialogue process and not the war.”
Developments right now
Addressing media, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “all wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the war on terrorism was not supposed to last 17 years,” and invited India for dialogue, saying that ‘better sense should prevail’.
Targeting Pakistan, Ministry of External Affair of India said, “it is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation & bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India.”
Kaiser Andrabi is a Features Writer at The Kashmir Walla.