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PostSubject: Kashmiri leaders marry non-Kashmiris   Kashmiri leaders marry non-Kashmiris Icon_minitimeMon Aug 10, 2009 6:57 am

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Kashmir: Where leaders prefer ‘foreign’ wives
Written by Fayaz Wani

The separatist leaders in the Indian administered Kashmir, who are demanding independence of the region from Indian control, are crossing the borders to get married and setting a trend, which is now being followed by some youngsters too.

One of the pioneers of the armed struggle in Kashmir and erstwhile chief commander of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Mohammad Yasin Malik is presently in Pakistan to bring his bride, Mushaal Malik to Kashmir. Malik, who shunned gun and preferred non violent means of resistance, tied the knot with Mushaal, a Pakistani artist in Rawalpindi on February 22 this year. Mushaal studied at London School of Economics.

The 42- year old Malik is the fifth separatist leader and third former militant commander to opt for ‘foreign’ wife.

The trend among the separatist group have foreign wife was set by former militant commander Aftab Hilali alias Shahid-ul-Islam. He married an Arab girl Habib in mid 1990s. Later Habib, moved to United States from Dubai after giving birth to son Umar Shah. Her husband has been trying to visit US but has been denied visa. This year Islam formally opted out of separatist politics.

In 2000, Sajjad Gani Lone son of slain Kashmiri separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone married Asma Khan, daughter of another separatist leader Amanullah Khan based in Pakistan. After his father was killed by unknown gunmen in 2002, Sajjad took the control of the party, which has got some influence in some pockets of North Kashmir.

Sajjad, who brought his wife to Kashmir in 2001, has since then switched over sides. He unsuccessfully contested the Indian parliamentary elections from North Kashmir recently. “His switch over to pro-India camp was necessitated because the authorities on many times as a pressure tactics denied him entry to visit Pakistan to bring his wife. There have been many occasions when he was caught in a visa battle for his Pakistani wife,” a political observer, pleading anonymity, said.

Senior Kashmiri moderate leader and leading cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, whose father was gunned down by unknown gunmen on 21 May 1990, married US based Kashmiri girl, Sheeba Masoodi in 2002.

Sheeba is the youngest daughter of Sibtain Masoodi, a Kashmiri doctor who left Kashmir in 1970s and settled in Buffalo, US. The family still has a house in uptown Barzulla locality, 2 kilometres from summer capital Srinagar, and they occasionally visit Kashmir.

Presently, the 36 year-old Mirwaiz Umar Farooq leading campaign against ‘Indian occupation’ in Kashmir, is involved in a legal tussle with authorities over the deportation issue of his wife. The authorities have been favouring deportation of his wife on the grounds that Sheeba is not a citizen of India. Mirwaiz has challenged his wife’s detention in Kashmir court, which recently issued notices to both the state and Indian government to make their stand clear.

Earlier, Hashim Qureshi, whom Pakistan accuses of hijacking an Indian plane “Ganga” in 1970s on behest of Indian intelligence agencies and burning it in on their soil, married to a Dutch citizen Zeba-un-Nisa. She was born in Pakistani city of Peshawar and later migrated to Netherlands. The hijacking incident is blamed for India-Pakistan war of 1971 which lead to the creation of Bangladesh from erstwhile East Pakistan.

The trend of ‘preferring foreign wives’ is now being followed by youth. Recently a 24- year-old Kashmiri media student, Danish Shervani married a Pakistani girl Mahnaaz after falling in love through a social network site, “Facebook”. Danish, who was in Pakistan to attend a conference, announced about his marriage through “Facebook” and has been receiving felicitation messages from his friends and relatives on the same.

Some sections of society have criticized the separatist leaders for having ‘foreign’ wives. “They should have married the local girls preferably the ones who suffered during this turmoil to set an example so that others could have followed the suit,” said a Kashmir University teacher, who did not want to be identified.

Separatists have themselves picked the trend from the the pro-Indian camp.

The father of the present 39-year old chief minister of Kashmir Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah was probably the first high ranking politician of the region to bring a foreign wife. He married London based nurse, Molly and is now father of the three.

The chief minister himself is not married to a Kashmiri girl. He married a Sikh girl, Payal Singh daughter of former Indian Army officer, Maj. Gen Karan Ram Singh in September 1994.

The sister of chief minister, Sara Abdullah fell in love with a Hindu Sachin Pilot, the son of late Indian parliamentarian and minister, Rajesh Pilot.

A senior political commentator, who teaches political science in KU, said: “More than one hundred thousand people have died during the 20-year old turmoil in Kashmir. Instead of going for high profile marriages, the pro-Indian and separatist leaders should have opted to marry the victims of violence. This would have encouraged others to follow the path and marry the women, who have been worst hit by the turmoil”.

He said, “We have been facing a problem due the leaders going for high profile marriages. Ultimately our womenfolk suffers and this has to be stopped”.

(The author is a Srinagar based journalist and can be reached at fayazwani123@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Fayaz Wani

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