Hoisting Pakistani flags in Indian Kashmir: When the wind blows

Published: August 9, 2015
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In Old Barzulla Srinagar, which is considered a hotbed of pro-freedom activities and Geelani’s supporters, two Pakistan flags always remain hoisted in a public park. PHOTO: HAZIQ QADRI

In Old Barzulla Srinagar, which is considered a hotbed of pro-freedom activities and Geelani’s supporters, two Pakistan flags always remain hoisted in a public park. PHOTO: HAZIQ QADRI

The national flag is the emblem of patriotism, displayed jubilantly and unabashedly to mark any country’s freedom. The same, however, raises red flags when hoisted in hostile territory. In Indian Kashmir, the recent display of Pakistani flags during a pro-freedom rally evoked a furor in the Indian media and among mainstream political parties from the valley all the way to New Delhi. But the people of Kashmir say the practice of displaying and making the Pakistani flag in the region is as old as the armed resistance itself.

Many people were spotted carrying Pakistani flags at pro-freedom rallies and protests during the mass uprisings in 2008 and 2010. Even when militancy trumped civil agitation, the practice of hoisting Pakistani flags was a common one. But how these flags are made is another story altogether. Fearing arrest by Indian forces and security agencies, many make them secretly, often procuring green and white coloured clothes to cut up and make flags out of.

Abrar*, 24, is a resident of Hyderpora Srinagar, the residence of Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Abrar says he buys green and white clothes and then gives them to a tailor to turn them into a flag. “The tailor is a friend of mine, which is why I trust him. After he’s stitched the flag, I take it to another friend who draws a crescent and star over it,” he adds. It costs Abrar Rs200 to get the flag stitched and painted, but he doesn’t mind. “I love Pakistan and its flag. Rs200-300 is a not a big deal.”

In the city of Srinagar, a few camping agencies also help make Pakistani flags. Muhammad Ahsan* owns one such camping agency in the old city. An ardent supporter of the freedom movement, Ahsan recalls how during the 2010 agitation he would cut the dastarkhwan — a long piece of cloth usually used to lay out a spread over — into many pieces, paint them green and draw a star and crescent on them.

“I have made a number of flags by cutting the dastarkhwan. I would give them to my friends and some young passionate boys free of cost. In those days, everyone was waving Pakistani flags, and so did I,” shares Ahsan.

Others take great care to ensure no one knows what they are up to. A boy from Srinagar’s Habbakadal area, Shakir* says he makes the flag himself at home. “I have a paint box and a sewing machine in my attic. Whenever I need a flag, I make it there without letting anyone know, not even my family,” he says, adding he is extremely cautious because security agencies often hunt down boys who hoist Pakistani flags during rallies.

In Old Barzulla, which is considered a hotbed of pro-freedom activities and a stronghold of Geelani’s supporters, two Pakistan flags always remain hoisted in a public park. Moreover, two large posters of United Jihad Council chief Sayeed Salahuddin and Syed Ali Shah Geelani are on display there.

Despite the risks involved, Srinagar’s residents remain adamant in their quest to hoist the Pakistani flag as high as their hopes. To them, the flag is not just a flag. It is a manifestation of their aspirations.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Haziq Qadri is a Kashmir-based photojournalist. He tweets @haziq_qadri 

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 9th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (39)

  • Jack Smith
    Aug 9, 2015 - 11:53AM

    Bun kay rahay ga Pakistan!!Recommend

  • Kashmiri Muslim
    Aug 9, 2015 - 12:24PM

    Indian Hindus must realize that a vast majority of Kashmiri Muslims WANT to join Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has some faults BUT we want to join them. We have same religion and culture. Kashmir does not contribute a lot to Indian GDP so just let us be FREE.Recommend

  • karan
    Aug 9, 2015 - 1:42PM

    Was pakistan created after consulting the majority ie Hindus in the undivided India?…The answer is big NO. Was there a plebiscite in the undivided India for the creation of pakistan. NO. Infact the wishes of majority were completely ignored when pakistan was created.

    The wishes of majority in kashmir (assuming they are pro independence) does not matter now. Same Logic. Deal with it.Recommend

  • nouman
    Aug 9, 2015 - 1:47PM

    @Kashmiri Muslim:
    well said brother
    in pakistan there some anti pakistan elements which does not want pakistan to be stabilized and prosperous it takes some time to remove these anti pakistan elements.
    but im happy that muslims of jammu kashmir have such feeling for pakistani muslims.
    best of luck
    khuda hafiz.Recommend

  • ahmed wani
    Aug 9, 2015 - 2:00PM

    Kashmiri’s have a choice….either go to pakistan or remain in Indian kashmir…terrorist will be dealt with terrorism…..Recommend

  • Kashmiri Pandit
    Aug 9, 2015 - 2:22PM

    muslims must realize that we pandits and buddhist never support them to join Pakistan. Its our land too and we can not trust muslims of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dubya
    Aug 9, 2015 - 2:30PM

    Pakistan must realize that this drama will not go on for so long ….
    Wait and watch the space … real names will come out … when they are shot and killed by Indian security agencies …
    Pakistan is using Kashmiri youth like cannon fodder for Indian security forces …. Nothing is gonna change till the end of time as WHOLE Kashmir belongs to India … and not a single inch will be spared …Recommend

  • Indian Guy
    Aug 9, 2015 - 3:11PM

    The same people also take pride in displaying the ISIS flag. Great league to be in for the Pakistani flag. Congrats! Pakistan and ISIS.Recommend

  • Aakashvaani
    Aug 9, 2015 - 3:13PM

    @Jack Smith: Pehle Pakistan banega registan (desert).Recommend

  • Reality Check
    Aug 9, 2015 - 4:07PM

    AT times India was completely ruled my Muslims we let you have a country be happyRecommend

  • nouman
    Aug 9, 2015 - 4:28PM

    we will see
    akashvaani sahab.
    if pakistan become desert than india becomes barren land.Recommend

  • Prakash
    Aug 9, 2015 - 4:41PM

    @Kashmiri Muslim:
    You seem educated. So tell me, why do you want to join Pakistan and 180 million Indian Muslims don’t? Recommend

  • genesis
    Aug 9, 2015 - 5:04PM

    In fact these guys should be supplied all the flags the require free of cost either for holding or burning.A piece of cloth is not going to confer ownership or nationhood.go ahead wave them and burn too if it takes your fancy.So many people around the world burn US/Israeli flags,Has it made a difference?Recommend

  • usman777
    Aug 9, 2015 - 7:07PM

    It is incredible that even though India is succeeding and Pakistan is failing…. Our brothers still raise our flags. #respect.Recommend

  • Another Kashmiri
    Aug 9, 2015 - 7:30PM

    @Prakash:
    I will tell you why we want to join Pakistani Muslims and not the Indian Ones. Given below is my argument:
    1…..
    2….
    3….


    We just love PAKISTANRecommend

  • ABCD
    Aug 9, 2015 - 7:53PM

    If Kashmirs want freedom, they should be flying their own flag and not the Pakistani. There is disconnect somewhere. Probably someone paying to fly the flags. Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath
    Aug 9, 2015 - 8:23PM

    @Kashmiri Muslim:

    My family came to India from Pakistani Punjab with just the clothes on our backs. Why you should be treated any better?Recommend

  • Pakistani Sindhi
    Aug 9, 2015 - 9:31PM

    @Kashmiri Pandit:
    Pandit sahab how can we believe that you are not an Indian-Hindu hiding behind a fake name. By the way… if you are a Kashmiri Pandit.. then I have a suggestion for you… “you are minority so your say does not count.”Recommend

  • Pakistani Sindhi
    Aug 9, 2015 - 9:34PM

    @Prakash:
    Are you really saying that Indian-Muslims are living in ‘paradise’ with genocide like Ayodhya 1993 and Gujarat 1969 and 2002 and many more? Are you that ignorant? Recommend

  • Pakistani Sindhi
    Aug 9, 2015 - 9:44PM

    We Pakistanis are pleased to learn that Kashmiris have positive feelings for Pakistan. But there are many faults within our country, especially the Punjabi-hegemony. It is best if you could exercise self-autonomy; otherwise after India, the Kashmir will yet again become another colony for Punjab (just like the rest of three provinces of Pakistan have become since 1947). Kashmiris need to understand that Punjab is not Pakistan alone; to generate national level sympathy, then be familiarized with people of Sindh and Balochistan. Recommend

  • Kashmiri
    Aug 10, 2015 - 1:23AM

    There was a time when the Hindus used to chant the same “Akhand Bharat” and “Bharat Maata” slogans about present day Pakistan. Did that stop us from getting our land..?

    Now you and your RSSs and VHSs and Shiv Senas are doing the same hate-based work in India today. The Muslims are the worst off. The world does take notice when Muslim relative representation in general election in india falls to alarmingly low levels. Everyone knows today that indian Muslims are worse off than Dalits.

    Thank the Almighty for independence.. thank Him for Pakistan..!!Recommend

  • Kashmiri
    Aug 10, 2015 - 1:25AM

    Hahaha.. just look at the Indoo trolls’ comments at this painful news..
    Something’s sure burning badly around here..! :)Recommend

  • Indian
    Aug 10, 2015 - 1:29AM

    I am a Indian and I love my country but I think there should be plebiscite in Kashmir. We live in a democracy, so we have right to choose our rulers. I just compare my state to J&K and find how miserable life in J&K . I don’t know how it feel to live in a state which has 7 Lac active military personnel & constant threat from terrorist and has serious human right violation cases.
    Getting human rights as per UN’s convention on human rights 1948 is a every persons fundamental right and every country must respect that. Recommend

  • Kushal
    Aug 10, 2015 - 8:48AM

    @Kashmiri:
    There was a time when the Hindus used to chant the same “Akhand Bharat” and “Bharat Maata” slogans about present day Pakistan. Did that stop us from getting our land..?

    No because in 1947 we believed that everything will be alright if we accept Pakistan. You paid is back by sending Afghan tribesmen into Kashmir. This time not an inch will be compromised.Recommend

  • Kushal
    Aug 10, 2015 - 8:52AM

    @Kashmiri:
    “The Muslims are the worst off. The world does take notice when Muslim relative representation in general election in india falls to alarmingly low levels. Everyone knows today that indian Muslims are worse off than Dalits.”

    Do you know why the world doesn’t take notice of the plight of Indian Muslim. Because when they are compared with Pakistan, they say, “If there is a paradise for Indian Muslims, then it’s India, it’s India and it’s India.Recommend

  • Vicky
    Aug 10, 2015 - 10:20AM

    Well from past 68 years, few hundred separatist Kashmiris have been raising pak flags in Kashmir……so let them raise pak flags for another 68 years,,,, nothing gonna change…..

    @Kashmiri….yes you took Pakistan , but you took it from British govt ruling India ……
    from many decades we had incompetent socialist leftist govt,,,,,but finally now we have right wing nationalist govt for at least 10 years and trust me you guys can’t imagine what will you gonna witness in upcoming yearsRecommend

  • jsm
    Aug 10, 2015 - 11:20AM

    @Pakistani Sindhi:
    Then why do they not leave for the land which was created for them? What stops them?Recommend

  • Harish
    Aug 10, 2015 - 11:23AM

    @Kashmiri Muslim:
    You are free t go buddy but won’t be taking anything else, that we make sure.Recommend

  • someone
    Aug 10, 2015 - 12:20PM

    I think Kashmiri youth just don’t get it. Its time their generation go to college and school rather than attending protests other wise there is no hope for Kashmiris. Their 2 generations have paid heavy price by playing into the hands of Pakistanis. The punjabis of Pakistanis would sell them in no time.Recommend

  • Iffi
    Aug 10, 2015 - 1:53PM

    If India is proud to be largest democracy than India should prove it n show the big heart n let them( Kashmiris) decide they want to live with India, Pakistan or separate with doing the referendum like few days before held in UK.Recommend

  • Kashmiri
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:03AM

    @Kushal..

    ” ..in 1947 we believed that everything will be alright if we accept Pakistan. You paid is back by sending Afghan tribesmen into Kashmir. This time not an inch will be compromised..”

    Hahaha.. I honestly had a good laugh at this utterly meaningless line.
    You sound as if you guys willingly did a favour to us back in 1947. NOT REALLY!
    Man, we haven’t forgotten the massive trouble you guys created for poor minority Muslims at partition. WHY? Your hate stems from the “division of your Mother India”- it knew AND KNOWS no limits.
    Which is only good news: for hate first destroys the vessel that contains it..!

    P.S. Before you mention anything about any tribesmen that you say we sent, open a good history book (not the ones they stuff into your brains at Indian schools from grade 1 through 16!) and find out about Junagarh and Manavadar and Hyderabad and Gurdaspur AND KASHMIR. Hypocrisy at its worst!!Recommend

  • Kashmiri
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:14AM

    @Vicky..

    ” ..yes you took Pakistan , but you took it from British govt ruling India ……
    from many decades we had incompetent socialist leftist govt,,,,,but finally now we have right wing nationalist govt for at least 10 years and trust me you guys can’t imagine what will you gonna witness in upcoming years..”

    BUAHAHAHAHAHA…
    Funny hateful man.

    PS: the world has seen a lot of how you are treating your Muslims- keeping them at par with your most oppressed caste, the Dalits. So good luck trying to go after them further if you can- , they don’t have much to loose anyway in your country..!Recommend

  • saif
    Aug 11, 2015 - 1:37AM

    @Prakash Because those 180 million muslims are indian but kashmiris are not indian.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Aug 11, 2015 - 3:53AM

    @Kaushal….. You pretend as if you Hindus were the rulers of India not britishers before India and Pakistan came into being…. Thanks to Allah Almighty we got freedom… For I pity the state of the Muslims in India who are treated like 3rd grade citizens…. And I hope that the Sikhs also get their own state from Indian land where they are not subjected to hate and discrimination Recommend

  • harkol
    Aug 11, 2015 - 8:50AM

    Kashmir can join Pakistan – only if Pakistan is willing to take all muslims of India. India can not have one more partition on the basis religion and have all Hindu minorities driven away from those territories (like what happened in Pakistan), while a large muslim population stays within India. It can’t protect those Muslims effectively when such divisive ideology is at play.

    So, Pakistan can send the remaining Hindus (about 44lakhs) to India and accept all muslims (about 18crore) from India along with Kashmir valley, which may want to go with Pakistan.

    If that can’t be done, Kashmir can’t be part of Pakistan just because it is Muslim majority. No force on earth can make that happen. Recommend

  • Aug 11, 2015 - 10:42AM

    you small pocket of people can’t change the situation. Kashmir named after the Kashyapa Rishi who is in Hindu mythology considered the father of all human races. In hidnuism all Arya, Yaksha or Gandharva(Tibetian or North Eastern people) and Shudra(kashyapa) are considered of one human race.Recommend

  • harkol
    Aug 11, 2015 - 11:33AM

    Strangely, libertarian & freedom loving Pakistanis don’t find it heartwarming, when Balochs wave Baluchistan flags (instead of Pakistani flags) in Baluchistan!!Recommend

  • Rana Ajeet
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:00PM

    @Pakistani Sindhi:
    then by same logic kashmiris are minority in India so they don’t have any say.Recommend

  • Aug 11, 2015 - 3:36PM

    The subject should read “Hoisting Pakistani flags in Indian Occupied Kashmir: When the wind blows”Recommend

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