Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, November 19, 2007

BBC Journalist: Kashmiris have not produced a single leader of international stature

British author doesn’t see an early Kashmir resolution

‘Kashmiris have not produced a single leader of international stature’

By Sarwar Kashani
(Kashmir Images)

New Delhi, Nov 19: Despite a positive change in the overall security situation in Kashmir, militancy in the state looks far from being resolved, says BBC journalist and author Andrew Whitehead.

"Srinagar (the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir) is much better than what it looked like in early and mid 1990s. It's jostling with activity. People can walk on roads after 10.30 p.m. unlike then (when militancy was in its peak)," said Whitehead, also a social historian, whose book ‘A Mission in Kashmir’ was launched here last week.

Whitehead, who has travelled and reported extensively in Kashmir, reserves his "judgement" on a final solution of the Kashmir issue.

"As a journalist, I don't think I should be giving my take on that, more because I am a foreign journalist. I mirror the situation for the people... but I don't see the issue being resolved very soon," the British author told IANS in an interview.

The soft-spoken Whitehead has visited Kashmir Valley since 1993 as a BBC correspondent and studied the problems very closely. He has also visited Pakistan-administered Kashmir several times.

Asked if he felt that the Kashmir separatist movement had suffered due to the jehadi colour given to it, Whitehead smiled, but lamented the leadership crisis in Kashmir.

"The world does not ignore Kashmir... but Kashmiris have not produced a single leader of international stature," he said.

Whitehead's ‘A Mission in Kashmir’ traces the human angle of one of the world's most-enduring conflicts, which first erupted in violence in 1947 when Pakistani tribals invaded this princely state.

He has recorded first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses, including an Italian nun, Sister Emilia at St. Joseph's mission, who survived the tribal attack on the Christian mission at Baramulla in Kashmir.

"The convent and the hospital there were the scene of one of the most violent and notorious events during the initial stages of the Kashmir conflict in 1947 and it was where my personal quest into the origins of the Kashmir dispute began," Whitehead remarked.

The book, as the author claims, is an apolitical attempt - free from being obscured and impeded by competing nationalism (by India and Pakistan) - to establish how the Kashmir dispute first erupted.

The book "is much more a work of history than of reportage. At its heart are the stories of those caught up in the first Kashmir conflagration", said Whitehead.

Asked why anybody should believe the people he has interviewed, Whitehead says, "Take it the other way round".

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