Kashmir, In sha’Allah
By Peter-Paul de Meijer

It is the ninth of January 2015 when the French police have surrounded a building in the northern town near Charles de Gaulle airport as part of a massive manhunt for the two men accused of carrying out the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Awaiting our flight in one of Amsterdam Airports busy terminals we start to question the three week journey that lies ahead and the risks involved.

The state of Kashmir and Jammu has been a conflict zone for over 50 years, fought over by Indians and Pakistani, that started shortly after the independence of India. It has been the epicenter of three wars and it is not without a reason that former President of the US Bill Clinton declared it 'the most dangerous place in the world'.
Whilst applying for a visitor visa the Dutch embassy informed us multiple times about the travel warnings that are issued for the state of Kashmir explicitly stating that foreigners are 'particularly visible, vulnerable, and at risk' of terrorist operations and advised against all travel. The message from the insurance company was also very clear: "Should anything happen, we will not be able to help you."
Skiing in a conflict zone

It is 17 hours later when we arrive in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. Although the airplane view over the Kashmir valley is arguably one of the worlds best (it is easy to see where Led Zeppelin found inspiration for 'Kashmir'), it feels like we have been gradually giving up on luxury as our trip progresses.
We land in a no man's land covered in dust and unfinished concrete buildings.

Taxiing to the gate we catch a glimpse of what is coming and our premonition is confirmed; due to an increased risk of terrorist attacks by Pakistani cells prior to president Obama's visit to India, Srinagar airport is almost completely filled with fighter jets and other sorts of military transportation.
The main airport hall is filled with Indian military personnel who all seem to be keeping a very close eye on what we are doing.

On the wall is a billboard that says 'Welcome to Kashmir, Paradise on Earth'.