Pakistani women in occupied Kashmir not allowed to return after divorce

Published: February 3, 2019
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: The story of Kupwara-based Bushra Farooq is similar to that of many others who are forced to stay in Indian occupied Kashmir against their wishes.

Bushra, who hails from Abbottabad, was married in occupied Kashmir in 2008. Her husband has divorced her, but she says Indian authorities are not permitting her to return to Pakistan.

According to Bushra, she is being threatened that her children will be taken away. While the Pakistan embassy has provided her passport, the Indian government isn’t allowing her to return nor are they giving her Indian nationality.

Her story is similar to that of Kubrai Gillani, who has failed to get a clearance despite visiting the authorities for several months.

According to Express News, more than 300 Pakistani women who have been divorced or want to return home are stranded because of the intransigence of the occupying force in Kashmir.

Another Pakistani woman Zeba, who is currently based in Kupwara, went to occupied Kashmir after her marriage seven years ago. She says that she has since tried to get clearance for her return on multiple occasions but to no avail. She has demanded that the Pakistani and Indian governments allow her and other Pakistani and Kashmiri women to go back. According to her, the Indian side has refused to allow the woman to leave even if they are considered illegal residents, although that should automatically result in their deportation.

Saira Javed is yet another woman hailing from Azad Kashmir and suffering a similarly uncertain fate due to India’s inaction. According to her, in 2012 the chief minister of occupied Kashmir Farooq Abdullah announced a policy saying that the women of Azad Kashmir who were married in occupied Kashmir would be permitted to visit their homes. However, they were betrayed and weren’t allowed to return to Pakistan.

According to these Kashmiri women, there are more than 300 such cases. Most of these women are either divorced or widows. Some of them have been driven to suicide due to the hopelessness of their situation but the Indian government hasn’t budged.

These women have demanded that the Pakistan government take up the issue with India and ensure their return. Far away from their homes and on their own, they remain unable to become a part of their families’ happiness or sorrows, while many have lost family members while awaiting their freedom.

Furthermore, they have urged the government to make provisions to ensure that women who are living in occupied Kashmir with their husbands and families are allowed to visit their parents in Pakistan.

Human rights activist Ansar Burney has said that he will talk to the governments of both countries to discuss the return of these women after being contacted by them and their families. He said he would head to Muzaffarabad next week to find out about more such women and to facilitate their return.

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