Kalsoom Begum

As Interviewed by Hamzah Rasool, March 21, 2017

Kalsoom Begum: In Her Own Words

Lots of Tanks, bombs and shooting. I couldnít sleep at all because of the shooting. It was me, my brother, my other brother and my sister. My whole family was there. There were Hindu Soldiers breaking into peopleís houses that night. If you came outside at night, you would be killed. But this night, you didnít have to do anything to get killed. Luckily, my father was smart. He got all of us together and headed down to the basement. It was very rainy that night, and just as we were about to go, lightning struck a tree, and it fell towards us. My father ran as fast as he could and we barely made it to the basement.

We stayed in the basement for two weeks. All we had was five pieces of bread and two bottles of water. It rained all days. We heard that there was going to be a train heading to Pakistan at about 3:00 am. My father quickly drove as fast as he could to the train stop. He was speeding, but I didnít question him. We boarded the train, and we left that horrible place. I knew that I was saved.

Kashmir is a beautiful place, not very dangerous. No, not at all. It was ruled by a Hindu leader, but the place had a majority population of Muslims. When you decide who gets to have Kashmir, you have to say, whatís more important: quality or quantity? When you decide who wins, that might settle things for now, but it wonít stop the fighting.

It isnít that we want them to focus solely on Kashmir. Donít you think we have a right to speak Pakistani leadership when you are engaging with India on different issues? Where is Kashmir? We donít want them to forget Pakistan. We are not saying focus only on Kashmir. That is not the point. We want a stable government in Pakistan. We also want a stable government in India.

Honestly, the present Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, got too many opportunities, but he did nothing. Actually, I donít think he wants to do anything. I donít think our Prime Minister got as many opportunities as Mr. Singh did. Our Prime Minister extended the hand of friendship to Pakistan. He started the peace process despite challenges posed by deadly militant attacks. On the contrary, Mr. Singh got a smooth ground, but he has failed to deliver.

These are such hard-working soldiers. They would risk their lives to save this country. I would like to say thank you to all who have served, because if it wasnít for them, this country would exist anymore. Kashmir is a problem that no one can solve -- not even big nations like the U.S. or Russia. Our soldiers will fight, and if they die, they will die fighting. I think that they were outnumbered for about 4 to 1. But because of God, they managed to hold them off until international forces got involved. I donít think I couldíve gone in that way, in that war by myself. When youíre fighting with India, itís about quantity, not quality.