“I was human, of course I was scared,” the pathos of a voice which can be heard through the pages of Anum Zakria’s book, "Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-administered Kashmir" comes at a time when efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue are in limelight, once again.

The message of the book is very clear; "If there is to be a third party it has to be the voice of the Kashmiris. Since 1987, people have lost faith in the government and the system and now are vying for justice and rights. Kashmiris as stakeholders are yet to be recognized.” I.A. Rehman, “You cannot ignore me anymore” Kathy Gannon. All voices echo the sentiments of those who have been suppressed for many years.

This detailed accounts of human interest comes after four years of the authors first book, "The Footprints of Partition". Narratives of four generations of Pakistanis and Indians, published in 2015. Divided into three parts, “Conflict,” “State Policies,” and “Beyond the Ceasefire” each chapter, like her previous book represents experiences and attitudes of a generation born in a theater of war. Interviews, research and personal testimonies have been entwined through Zakaria’s personal chronicle, making it another travelogue, but this time it is not of the ideological landscapes of Pakistan but instead of the Neelum Valley, which is the book’s major focus of attention.

Seventy years have gone by and Kashmir remains an unresolved issue. “Standing under the open sky at night, only to imagine that war meant being pushed out of warm beds and being thrust out of one’s bed,” features voices of traumatization and stress a terror everywhere. Deliberated, and redrafted through various perspectives, Kashmiris remain stranded in a tit-for-tat battle.

Through her collection of testaments, it has been argued that bringing out truthful facts is always difficult. As Zakria transcribes that “Many of them are secular nationalists, opposing Kashmir’s unification with Pakistan. They stand for an independent Kashmir,” She herself mentions that oral histories presented by her do not voice all the ‘Azad Kashmiris,’ however, presenting their narratives can help them become a legitimate voice. She only intends to let her readers know how people of the area are being affected.

Starting on a personal note from Muzaffarabad, the capital of ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ (AJK) conversations in the book get interesting when the author paints distress through eyes of Kashmiris. Surroundings have been sketched for the readers to build up a clear imagery of the author’s journey through the valley. Legacy of what happened to the non-Muslims (Sikhs) have been found through the voice of Amardeep Singh who has written on Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan. Unlike most of the people, he took on a challenge of revisiting his ‘bloody past’ and narrates how incidents of trust and friendship in the older generation have been converted into moments of’ ‘helplessness’, ‘vulnerability’ ‘suicide’ and ‘trauma.’ Through the pages of her green notebook, the journalist opens the readers to the indigenous struggle made by tribesmen was never explored, protest made against the raids, suffocating conditions of refugees, the dream of bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar, laws and legalities separating families, birth of Mujahedeen’s and anxieties of Kashmiri mothers. “What would it do to a mother to pick up pieces of her child?” recounts one mother in frustration.

One of the most militarized regions of the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Record, “One million troops stare at each other across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir.” For some of the Kashmiris militarization across the LOC among one of the legacy left by the ‘tribals.’ What India and Pakistan need to understand is that with the signing of the Shimla Agreement in 1972, no one will get involved in resolving the conflict, since its resolution has been restricted between Pakistan and India. As compared to the past there are more challenges and once the arms are picked up, it will be hard for both countries to safeguard their future. Major General Akhtar states that with economic opportunities like CPEC surfacing, instability for Pakistan is not an option. And the country needs to be very careful, since under conditions of instability groups like ISIS (Islamic State) and Al-Qaeda can manipulate the situation. India needs to agree to Kashmir as an issue, Kashmiris want their voice to count when decisions are made about the internal politics of Kashmir. And the whole world needs to understand this. Kashmiris ask, “They are the primary stakeholders yet discussions about its present and future are held bilaterally between India and Pakistan. Where is the justice in this?"

While readers might want to know more about Gilgit-Baltistan and its connection with Kashmir, in the beginning of the book, Anum explicitly mentions how both regions follow different trajectories and need to be explored separately in detail. "This is a research I would like to undertake one day," she concludes. Caged between a war of civilization among Hindus and Muslims, the book headlined in simple language gives warnings from a land where militancy and insurgency are ready to re-born.