Monday, 9 August 2004
"Crossing The Lines: Kashmir, Pakistan, India"
On Saturday evening I attended the Bay Area premiere and a discussion with the filmmaker, other activists, and Kashmiri, Pakistani, and Indian community members of an impressive new documentary film by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mann, Crossing The Lines: Kashmir, Pakistan, India.
It's remarkable enough that even progressive South Asians would seek to present a balanced view of the Kashmir controversy -- balanced not in the sense of "objectivity", but in allowing Kashmiris (from different regions and communities), Indians, and Pakistanis all to speak for themselves. So far as Hoodbhoy knows, it's the first time anyone has even tried. It's more amazing that Hoodbhoy, Mann, and their collaborators have succeeded far beyond what anyone could have hoped for.
In addition to their role in the South Asian anti-nuclear movement as physicists and writers, both Hoodbhoy and Mann have been leaders in Indo-Pak "citizen diplomacy" on Kashmir, nuclear weapons, and the intrusion of religious fundamentalism into government (a serious and in some respects similar problem both with Islamists in Pakistan and with Hindu fundamentalists -- the organizational descendants of Gandhi's assassins -- in India).
Holders of passports from the USA or other foreign countries can cross the Indo-Pak border with surprising ease, although in only a very few places. To go from Gilgit to Srinagar, I had to go by way of Rwalpindi, Lahore, and Amritsar or Delhi. But it was possible, and I went back and forth several times. But the border is almost completely closed to Indians, Pakistanis, and Kashmiris. In the discussion following the film, Hoodbhoy's most concrete suggestion was that it be made eaisier for people travel across the Indo-Pak border and the "Line Of Control" in Kashmir.
The main intended audience for the film appears to be in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, but I think that most of "Crossing The Lines", with the exception of a few acronyms and allusions, will be accessible to general audiences in the USA.
"Crossing The Lines" was produced for the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation with grants from, among others, the Ploughshares Fund. It's been shown in Pakistan (the filmmakers are trying to get it shown in India) and on a few university campuses in North America, but it deserves much wider circulation. If you have any interest in the issue, it's worth the US$35 to buy a copy on DVD.
[Update: At least for now, it's available in full on Youtube.]Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 9 August 2004, 10:18 (10:18 AM) | TrackBack (0)