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Mirza Waheed on Kashmir, Visas and Control

I will never forget my Kashmiri Aunts distress when they were not able to get visas in time to visit their dying father in Pakistan. They even missed the funeral. I have grown up surrounded by visa issues between India and Pakistan, as well as the state of Kashmir. Novelist Mirza Waheed’s essay ‘The Torturable Class’ is a wonderful piece on state control and how extraordinary fear is instilled in ordinary people by ordinary means. Please read it.

from ‘The Torturable Class’

 In the summer of 2012, I received a phone call from the Indian High Commission in London. It was odd. I hadn’t applied for a visa or any such thing. My wife and three-year-old son had, however, and had been waiting nearly three months. We were scheduled to visit my home in Indian-occupied Kashmir for my sister’s wedding, which was drawing close. We had been anxious and had written to friends and acquaintances to ask if they could help. We knew the drill, of course: for many “cross-border” couples—I was born and raised in Kashmir, my wife in Karachi—the trip home is an annual or biannual ritual of humiliation that must be borne if one is to see one’s people.

I told the voice on the phone that my wife was away—at work at the BBC World Service—and they could call her on her mobile phone. They did; a certain Mr. K told her they’d like to speak with her about her visa application; could she and her husband come for a meeting?

read full here in Guernica, a magazine of arts and politics



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