Despite being closely related these two places,cut off from each other have developed different narratives with regards to each other.
Over the last 70 years the name Kashmir has become almost synonymous with that of Pakistan. At the global level whenever Kashmir issue is discussed it is impossible not to involve Pakistan in that discussion.
After all Pakistan is a primary party to the whole issue. But this connection is not primarily based on the political aspects of Kashmir issue. There exists an emotional connection between the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. A connection that has manifested itself in a lot of ways. Sometimes it has manifested in the way Kashmiris cheer for the Pakistani cricket team while at other times it has manifested in the way Kashmiris follow the political developments in Pakistan. Similarly Kashmir has always occupied a central place in the minds of Pakistani people. Whether it about showing solidarity with Kashmiris or refering to it as a jugular vein.
Thus it is very normal to consider that Pakistanis and Kashmiris must possess a fairly accurate depiction of each other. But is this the case? No.
The answer may come as a surprise but here i forgot to mention that Pakistanis and Kashmiris hardly have a physical connection. After all how many Pakistanis have ever seen Kashmir physically and vice-versa.
For last 70 years Kashmir and Pakistan have physically remained cut off from each other and hence little people to people interaction has happened. This has resulted in spread of a lot of misconceptions between the two sides. Although through media and television, Kashmiris have got a fair bit of information about Pakistan, this hasn’t happened in the opposite direction because of tight control that India has over the information coming out of Kashmir. Hence most of the Pakistanis have built a narrative about Kashmir that is based upon an idea that is nearly 7 decades old. On top of that a lot of misinformation that has trickled down since these seven decades has made that narrative more far from reality.
Kashmiris have also built their narrative based on the idea of Pakistan that existed in 1947. Although people are aware of the developments since then but the idea on which the narrative has been built has remained the same.
The very idea that Pakistan was created as a new safe homeland for muslims has attracted the imagination of a lot of Kashmiris. And the very fact that Kashmir is a Muslim majority region has always meant that Pakistan sees it as a part of its foundation.
But over the years has all this remained the same? Probably not. Although the basic ideas remain the realities have changed. When a Kashmiri whose affiliation to the idea of Pakistan is solely based on religion sees the same Pakistan remaining indifferent to a lot of issues relating to muslims and indulging in things which for him Pakistan was not supposed to indulge in as a “Muslim Country”, then he sees no reason to continue believing in that idea. Apart from that a new generation of Kashmiris emerged who rather than seeing Kashmir going the Indian or Pakistani way believe that Kashmir has an independent destiny. According to majority of researches these people easily outnumber the ones who believe in some sort of merger with Pakistan. However the problem is that in the imagination of a Pakistani it is very difficult to accept this position. The reason is very simple. For decades he has been fed with the very same idea of Kashmir and now it is difficult for him to reposition himself.
However the bigger problem is the limited knowledge Pakistanis possess about Kashmir with respect to its people, culture, language etc. The Pakistani story about Kashmir has remained confined to its political aspects. But seldom has it expanded into other aspects about Kashmir. It has always remained confined to deaths, protests and slogans. Seldom has it told about the people in those protests. How they live, sing, eat, what they write etc.Seldom has it told about the history of this land .This has limited their understanding of Kashmir.
Kashmiris on the other hand are little aware of the realities of modern Pakistan. Pakistan has itself nearly 200 million people who need to be taken care of. It is right now a nation of contradictions as are all the developing nations. It has its fair share of rightists, leftists and centrists. It has its liberals, fundamentalists and moderates. It has it flaws. Perhaps it is not the utopia that Kashmiris expect it to be.Perhaps Kashmir’s identity is not just confined to its muslim majority and perhaps the idea of Pakistan has not remained confined to a homeland for Muslims.
If Kashmiris have to expect anything from Pakistan then it has to be based on realities and if Pakistanis wish to understand Kashmir beyond the slogans then they will also look at it realistically taking in account its history, culture and most importantly its people.
We are cut off physically from each other by a bloody line. In such a case misconceptions are common but we must always try to eliminate them and look at each other realistically.