Anchor Martin Savidge remembers reporting in Kashmir in 2002 and examines the news of a new trade route through the region.
If I had my way, our lead story on Tuesday night would have been the opening of a new trade route between India and Pakistan through the bitterly contested region of Kashmir.
Trucks with grain and honey rolled amid a fanfare of celebration. I read about one 72-year-old man who said that the last time he saw this trade route used, he was 12.
We didn’t lead with the story, but we did have it in the program. As chief writer Ed Deitch put it so well: “Pakistan and India did something today they hadn’t done in six decades.”
In a world where we seem to stumble from one crisis to the next, this was welcomed news. I watched all of the big domestic newscasts that night…none mentioned it.
I was in Kashmir when tanks — not trucks of grain — rolled, when artillery thundered across the so-called “Line of Control.” I was there in the summer of 2002 when both countries threatened to go to war over Kashmir as they have done several times in the past.
Only this time, both nations prepared their nuclear arsenals.
I remember being in India-controlled Kashmir and expressing my concerns to a government official about being a little nervous covering a story that might end in a nuclear flash. He assured me New Delhi and Islamabad might die in an atomic fire, but neither country would harm the land they love and have fought over so frequently. I was in the safest possible place, he said.
Actually, I understand why both nations lay claim to Kashmir. It is simply the most beautiful place I have ever been. When people ask me to describe it, I say it’s like the Alps (only greener) and like a dream (only real). Kashmir has mystical and exotic qualities along with a natural beauty that makes the land seem enchanted.
One day in your life, you must glide in a shikara [wooden boat] across the mirror-like waters of Lake Dal in Srinagar.
These gondola-like vessels gracefully balance between floating and sinking. Pushed by an oarsman, you glide in the shadow of mountaintop palaces, past Victorian-era carved wooden houseboats that look as though they are still home to the British administrators from the time of the Raj.
The rise of militancy in the political struggle over Kashmir has driven away the tourists that in the 70s and 80s would jet set here. It’s still a dangerous land…but perhaps both Pakistan and India have opened a new route to peace.
— Martin Savidge
Find one of Martin’s 2002 CNN reports from Kashmir here.