Our stake in Kashmir is a very personal one. It's the place of our ancestry and everyone outside our immediate family resides there. For the last twenty years, my brother and I have witnessed first-hand the devastating toll taken by violence on our loved ones, the people, the entire culture and landscape of the region. The 60-year dispute over Kashmir is one of the most neglected conflicts in the world, and the perspectives of the very people living there are often marginalized by saber-rattling politics between India and Pakistan, and the impression that "Kashmiri" is synonymous with terrorists or extremists. Kashmiris are artists, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, farmers, business people, academics, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. They all have something to say and their stories need to be heard.
Human rights groups estimate that the conflict in Kashmir has lead to over 70,000 deaths since 1989. The Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons has noted over 8,000 disappearances, and the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir recently reported the discovery of over 1,000 mass graves in just one district of the Kashmiri valley in 2008. We must achieve lasting peace through international debate and resolution, yet the international community must first develop a greater understanding of the perspectives of the people living in the embattled region.
Zerobridge is now featured on MTV IGGY for an on-line initiative called "Change:Kashmir - Help Restore Peace to Paradise. We are involved in this initiative to provide our band with a chance to be heard, and hope it will give a voice to the people of Kashmir who have suffered through decades of war and instability. All sides of the story are presented -- through interviews with Kashmiris on the ground, living within the conflict, as well as prominent voices in the intellectual and arts community across the globe. Writers such as Arundhati Roy (who rarely speaks to the media), and journalist/publisher Tarun Tejpal, to name just a few, provide a broad perspective on an extremely complex issue that needs the world's attention now more than ever. During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama clearly noted that the path to peace in South Asia requires a strong effort "to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India, and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis."
Our band is named after an actual bridge in Srinagar, Kashmir. It arcs over houseboats floating along the Jhelum River, and it was once a central place for people of all different backgrounds, especially the young, to meet with friends and family. Now it's a decrepit structure surrounded by barbed wire and army bunkers. But surrounded by the towering Himalayas, its beauty and spirit endures. For us, this everlasting beauty symbolizes not only what Kashmir was, but also the hope and potential for what Kashmir could be. And, always, the enduring will and spirit of its people. Even though Zerobridge is just a rock n' roll band from America, it is this Kashmir that runs through our veins and in some way manifests itself through our music and attitude every time we walk on stage.
Mubashir Mohi-ud-Din, 'Din'
Mohsin Mohi-ud-Din, 'Mo'
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