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.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dr. Zahida prays for easier movement across the LoC


(Mr. Syed Basharat, 26, was born in Kreeri, Baramulla, and did his schooling in Kreeri, and later in Uri and Sopore. He graduated from the Degree College in Baramulla and completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 2005. He has been a reporter for Kashmir Images, a Srinagar based daily, London based website Gaashonline.Com, and a Srinagar based journal, Globe. Currently, he is working as a special correspondent with Jammu based daily newspaper, The Kashmir Times.)

SRINAGAR, Nov 16: Cutting across all the barriers, of hatred, acrimony and animosity, she has landed here for the first time in her life. The first thing she did today was, crying. Tears emitted her long confined feelings about her homeland-Kashmir; from where her family had migrated to Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) in 1965.

Dr Zahida Qasim—a medical doctor from Mirpur-PAK, was here to attend the first intra Kashmir Women's Dialogue conference titled 'Connecting women across the LoC' organized by Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) in collaboration with Women's Study Center forJ&K Universities.

She was born in Chandak-Poonch. In 1965 her father Sardar Mohammad Qasim Khan along with his family had migrated to PAK where he settled in Mirpur. While as Dr Zahida's grandfather remained in Poonch.

"My father made efforts to get Visa in order to visit my grandfatherwho was on his death bed. For four times, he was denied the visa. At last when the visa was granted, my grandfather died in 1985 without seeing his son and his family," she said.

Dr Zahida added that till that time her family members used to weep on every Eid festival in remembrance of her grandfather and the rest ofthe family members living in Poonch.

"My father couldn't avail the visa and was shocked when he came toknow about his father's demise. He felt sick. So was my mother. Myfather died immediately after the death of my grandfather and my mother who was concerned about my father's deteriorating health left this world just after 22 day's of her husband's death leaving behind the five children including me who were studying professional courses in different colleges," she recalled, in a feeble voice.

Now Dr Zahida's prime concern is relaxation in visa rules. She wants divided families across the border to meet and move freely. "I want all the divided families to share their joy and sorrows. I beg to the governments of India and Pakistan to allow the divided families meet freely and don't suffocate them anymore," she demanded.

Dr Zahida who is daughter in law of former chief justice of PAK highcourt and president Liberation League Abdul Majeed Malik, also aspires to visit Poonch where her relatives are waiting for her glimpse. "We have been given visa for Srinagar and Jammu only. It was a dream come true for me, when I was invited by CDR to participate in this conference that too in Kashmir," she said.

She is of the opinion that there should be a free flow of ideas across the LoC exchanging views by composite discussions of high intellect representing all communities, sects and faith. "Let the people of the state meet each other by relaxing the security measurements making easy entry and exit from both sides especially for women," she opines, adding that meeting among divided families shouldbe made easier especially on the occasions of weddings, deaths, Eids,Deepwali, Basant and other social gatherings.

Dr Zahida who is consultant Pathologist, Ultrasonologist in D.H.Qhospital Mirpur, believes that people across the border should be allowed to receive health care across the border.

"It will also impart the lesson of co-existence, unity, integrity, composite character to our new generations," said Dr Zahida, who besides a doctor is a poetess, writer and a social worker and anchorperson of PTV.

Reading a few verses from her poem 'phir fasl-e-baharan aayegi' DrZahida said, 'phir fasl-e-bhara aayegi, is dil ki kheti mehkigi, kuchgeet naye kuch phool naye, khil jayen ge, ithlayeenge, aur bad-e-sabamuskayegi, phir fasl-e-baharan aayegi…"

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