Small Hopes in Conflict Affected Kashmir

Posted By: Zakat Foundation of America

Mar 18, 2011

Known as the "Switzerland of the East", since 1947 Kashmir's beauty has been overshadowed by perpetual conflict. In 1947, India claimed independence from Great Britain. At this crucial point, many Muslim leaders wished for a Muslim majority state which led to the creation of Pakistan. During this process, many areas were controlled by princely ruled states which were given the power to decide if they wanted to join India or Pakistan, taking into consideration religious regional lines. Pakistan laid claim to Kashmir because of its Muslim majority while India laid claim to the area because of an agreement taken with Kashmir’s leader. Since then, Kashmir has been the scene of discord for decades encompassing five major conflicts in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1989, and 1999.

After the 1947 war, the United Nations established a line of demarcation called the Line of Control, which separated Kashmir into areas defined by majority military control. This defined military line would become the cause of conflict between India and Pakistan in following years, but in 1989, internal conflict between India and Kashmiri insurgents embroiled Jammu and Kashmir (the Indian controlled area of Kashmir) leaving more than 50,000 casualties and a legacy of human rights abuses.

According to some studies Kashmiri women suffer the most sexual violence in the world. 11.6% of respondents said they had been victims of sexual abuse. Additionally, there have been numerous incidences of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and unlawful detention. In addition to the visible effects of the violence, many suffer from a decline of mental health due to decades of violence. As with any conflict zone, the economy, which is based mostly in agriculture, has suffered greatly. In recent years, much of the armed conflict has subsided, but it can only be said that the effects will last for a long time.

The earthquake in 2005 has had a devastating effect on all aspects of Azad Kashmir (the Pakistan controlled area of Kashmir). Over 75,000 people were killed. Many homes, schools, hospitals, and other major infrastructure were damaged and much of it is yet to be rebuilt. Many of the residents in this area still live in tents. Also, only a small percentage of schools have been rebuilt, forcing students to study outside or in crowded tents with dim lighting. Furthermore, the unemployment rate is a staggering 35%. With an economy largely based on agriculture, much of which has been reduced due to the earthquake, poverty has increased greatly.

Much of the history of Kashmir has been engulfed in conflict. In spite of conflict, Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) provided immediate relief during the earthquake in Azad Kashmir, has seasonal Udhiya/Qurbani programs which distributes meat to disadvantaged families. Also, ZF Ramadan Program serves families with hot iftar dinners, food packages, and Eid gifts. Additionally, ZF has recently started working in Jammu and Kashmir delivering warm blankets to vulnerable people who are experiencing harsh weather conditions, many of whom do not have adequate clothing to keep them warm or to combat the harsh weather.

Zakat Foundation of America, a Muslim charity that collects zakat, sadaqa / donations to provide humanitarian, emergency relief and sustainable development programs to empower lives throughout the world. We offer top Zakat resources including The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West, Zakat kit, ask an Imam feature, and you can calculate and pay zakat through our easy, online calculator.

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