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Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

"Crossing the lines: Kashmir, Pakistan, India"

This is a documentary film by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian, produced for the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, 2004 (45 minutes)

Nationalism and religion have entangled the fate of Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians for over five decades. After four wars, Kashmiris and their land are divided between Pakistan and India, the source of recurring crises. Many feel that the next war may be a nuclear war. In this tragedy, each side tells the story of the injustice and violence of the other, and feels only the suffering of their own. This path-breaking independent documentary film, made in Pakistan, challenges us to look at Kashmir with new eyes and to hope for a new way forward.

Interviews of key figures and ordinary people from every side, rare archival footage and computer animations weave together a rich and moving narrative. We hear leading Kashmiri militants voice the frustration of their hopes for democracy and their desperate rebellion against oppressive Indian rule. We see how Pakistan's relentless determination to confront India created an Islamic holy war that brought terror and death to Kashmir. Radical Hindu leaders in India and Islamic militants in Pakistan explain their shared conviction that Kashmir is part of a greater struggle that knows no limits. We discover how amid rising religious passions, governments in India and Pakistan seek to build national identity through cultivating prejudice and hatred towards the other. We explore how creating and changing bitterly contested borders offers little prospect for peace and justice.

The film chronicles the wars, the failed efforts at peace and the daily toll. This failure exacts on those caught on the frontline of this dispute. It shows how India and Pakistan's dramatic nuclear tests spurred the conflict to new heights, and explores the ways in which India's great power ambitions, and the interests of the Pakistani army, continue to make peace so elusive. Rejecting the national ambitions of Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians alike, the film offers a vision of a shared future for all of South Asia built on a common humanity.

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