The poem “The Country Without a Post Office” by Agha Shahid Ali deals with the events of the Kashmir rebellion against Indian rule. This was a time when both India and Pakistan laid claim on the area of Kashmir.
Ali paints a picture of a country plagued by civil unrest. The line “letters with doomed addresses, each house buried or empty” indicates that many people have fled due to the violence, leaving behind empty houses to which letters can be no longer delivered.
This uprising can be seen as a long-term symptom and consequence of British colonialism. After the retreat of the colonial forces, not much thought had been given to how the country should be run. The multitude of cultures and faiths in the region had not been taken into account, and the local people and local governments were simply expected to sort it out by themselves without any help from the British.
Islam was suppressed in Indian-controlled Kashmir. As a result, practicing religion was very dangerous for the Muslim population. Ali states that “When the muezzin died, the city was robbed of every call.” The muezzin is the person who gives the call to prayer in a mosque. His death in the poem therefore symbolizes the death of the Muslim faith.
In the second part of the poem, Ali points out that the post office, a remnant of the colonial powers, has ceased to exist as a result of the civil unrest. This brings with it the death of communication: “Each post office is boarded up ... only silence can now trace my letters.” This has been brought on by the unresolved conflict between India and Pakistan and their fight over the region of Kashmir—a problem that would not have arisen had it not been for the colonial suppression of these countries in the past. The narrator has no hope that this violent and chaotic situation will ever be resolved: “Nothing will remain, everything’s finished.”