Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Departed
September 9, 2012 11:27 PM   Subscribe

"Hundreds of Kashmiri militants who left home as young men two decades ago have begun to return, middle-aged and disillusioned. What happens to them now?"
posted by vidur (16 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reading about Kashmir always makes me feel a bit sad.
posted by fredludd at 12:29 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. It puts a human face on people we usually might just think of as inhuman fanatics when in reality they're much more like us than we prefer to acknowledge.
posted by Mokusatsu at 2:19 AM on September 10, 2012


Same as it ever was, for any soldier back from war. For the fortunate: wives, children, jobs and/or businesses, places in the world and connections with others. The acquisition of cares, and with each comes the fear of its loss. War is for those with nothing to lose, or so threatened that they feel they will lose everything unless they go to war, and mostly these are young men with no other prospects.

For the unfortunate: alienation, rejection, PTSD, illness, crime, and death.

Flowers from some, spit in the eye from others.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:58 AM on September 10, 2012


But what he saw left him disenchanted with the armed struggle and its Pakistani sponsors. “I got very angry and frustrated because ISI and Pakistan were behind it,” he told me. “They were fully responsible for encouraging the factionalism in Kashmir.” When he arrived at the militant base camp, in a dense forested region near Muzaffarabad, he discovered that it had become a massive operation, with thousands of men, of varying races and nationalities, being trained in separate camps divided by party.

“I saw eleven different organisations in eleven different camps,” he recalled. “When I met the second-rung commanders of all these groups, I asked them, ‘Why are you sending so many different groups? Why aren’t we together?’ And they told me each organisation was supposed to have a different religious and political orientation—so Wahhabbis will have Tehreek-ul-Mujahidin and Lashkar-e-Toiba, Shias will have Hizbul Mohmineen, Sunnis will have HM and Hizb-e-Islami, and so on.”


Fully responsible? C'mon. In all of these places - Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon - it is the local culture of proud, macho, tribalism that makes it possible for imperial powers to rule and manipulate them. It seems easy to describe these men as fanatics: One would think after centuries of tribal infighting and foreign domination the locals would have figured it out by now, but it is impressive how stubborn some people can be.
posted by three blind mice at 3:10 AM on September 10, 2012


three blind mice, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying? The people of Kashmir are too proud, which in part causes imperial powers (the British?) to rule/have ruled them?
posted by Houstonian at 3:44 AM on September 10, 2012


The people of Kashmir are too proud, which in part causes imperial powers (the British?) to rule/have ruled them?

No, putting the faction ahead of the cause is a perennial problem that allows outside powers to divide and rule.

Tribal is something of a loaded term these days, it implies a primitive otherness that doesn't really cover what's going on - maybe Clan would be a better term? It's a concept Scots-Irish influenced Americans understand - something that combines extended family and polity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:47 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clan still comes across as primitive and barbaric, cf: Somalia.
I think we (generally in the West) view such units with suspicion.

I wish people could be free to do what they want to do. Let the wider economics sort stuff out without the gun, and places like Kashmir could be tourist mecca, doing what they want, exporting fab food to the world and not being some sort of football field.
posted by Mezentian at 5:02 AM on September 10, 2012


I see the seeds of a Bollywood hit here: A buddy comedy that mixes Dumb and Dumber with First Blood:

Bumbling idiots come back from a war they didn't even fight in to home they don't even recognize and realize it was all for nothing.

The songs practically write themselves.
posted by Renoroc at 5:14 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bumbling idiots come back from a war they didn't even fight in to home they don't even recognize and realize it was all for nothing.

The levels of ennui I can feel from just reading that line are... cannot be translated into song.
posted by Mezentian at 5:20 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, putting the faction ahead of the cause is a perennial problem that allows outside powers to divide and rule.

"So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people. A silly people."
posted by Egg Shen at 5:38 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tribal is something of a loaded term these days, it implies a primitive otherness that doesn't really cover what's going on - maybe Clan would be a better term?

Well, any kind of family- or blood- oriented social grouping begins to break down at larger levels of organization and quickly becomes a hindrance. The "tribal divisions allows imperialism," above, but family-oriented political action in China (and Rhode Island) seems to account for an enormous amount of corruption, inefficiency, and poor government. Family loyalty seems like a good, but it can easily become a wall between "family" and "not family" that prevents a more coherent and mutual social organization.

In this specific case, I suspect it also leads to a lack of social services (the family will/must provide) which, to men returning to impoverished or scattered families, can mean no services at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:31 AM on September 10, 2012


I don't see any profit in deflecting ble from Pakistan here - they are guilty as fuck, and sinply do bot care thar their bullshit proxy war with India has consequences for other people.
posted by Artw at 7:04 AM on September 10, 2012


Renoroc: "Bumbling idiots come back from a war they didn't even fight in to home they don't even recognize and realize it was all for nothing."

I had a classmate from Srinagar in my boarding school, who made it quite far across the border before his relatively well-off family was able to pull the right strings and bring him back. He couldn't have been more than 15 at the time. It's a pretty laughable idea that this gentle, soft-spoken urban nerd from a wealthy family had made a choice to head to a training camp in "Azad" Kashmir to wage armed resistance against India. That's not the way it worked at all.

Anyway, he came to boarding school further south so they wouldn't try to take him across again.
posted by vanar sena at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2012


Very interesting post, vidur. Thank you.
posted by Anything at 9:44 AM on September 10, 2012


Bumbling idiots come back from a war they didn't even fight in to home they don't even recognize and realize it was all for nothing.

Four Lions the Musical
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on September 10, 2012


Clan still comes across as primitive and barbaric, cf: Somalia.
I think we (generally in the West) view such units with suspicion.


Ironic this, particularly how the political lines in the US are rapidly becoming less and less rational positions that agree to disagree and more and more clan-like arrangements of Us vs Them.

To my mind, it shows that the most primitive motivators are the most compelling, and stepping a population backwards from more cerebral to more visceral motivations will always work.
posted by Pliskie at 6:00 AM on September 11, 2012


« Older For the first time since 1987, Chicago public scho...  |   The National Bureau of Econom... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments