Since 2010, 377 former militants —who had crossed the border into Pakistan for arms training in the 1990s during the peak of counterinsurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir (IaK)—along with 864 family members, including wives and children, have returned to IaK. Since then, the wives have fought for recognition, citizenship, or deportation back to their families in Pakistan. While the women are stateless, they have also turned their focus to self-empowerment in order to help themselves survive in a foreign land.
In Kashmir, Pakistani wives of former militants are empowering each other with self-sustainable businesses and forming a support group after the government denied them travel documents. A Pakistani woman is running a boutique in Kashmir that employs several other Pakistani women to sustain livelihood. Some of the women who work at her store are divorced.
Numerous women among them suffer from mental illnesses. So far, 15 of them have died, including one who died of suicide in 2014.
In the Women With No Country stories, the New Lines Magazine will look at how Pakistani wives of former militants in Kashmir fought for recognition, citizenship, or deportation back to their families in Pakistan for over a decade. The Kashmir Walla will focus on how these women became self-empowered for survival in Kashmir by opening a boutique, which not only serves as a place of employment, but has also played the role of a support group over the years. The Wire will look at the state of living of the Pakistani wives of former militants.