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

First Intra-Kashmir women's dialogue begins in Srinagar

November 16, 2007

First Intra-Kashmir women's dialogue begins in Srinagar

Srinagar: Over 50 women from both sides of the Line of Control met in Srinagar today at the start of a three-day Intra-Kashmir Women's Conference titled "Connecting Women across the LoC".

The conference has been organised by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) and women's studies centre of Jammu and Kashmir universities.While inaugurating the conference, Dr. Sayeda Hameed, member Planning Commission questioned the lack of gender parity and balance in the region saying the voices of women are not taken into consideration when it comes to discussing the future of Jammu and Kashmir and India and Pakistan.

Sharing the platform with Dr. Hameed were Dr. Naseema Jogezai, women's rights activist from Muzaffarabad and Mrs. Nighat Shafi Pandit, chairperson of HELP foundation, Srinagar. Dr. Jogezai said that crossing the border for the conference was like "a dream come true" for her and the other women. "It is ironic that Muslims and Hindus have so much in common in Kashmir and yet there is conflict", she said and suggested that it was time to focus on the similarities rather than the differences.

Nighat Shafi Pandit spoke of the impact of conflict on women and children. Misery and disaster have trans-territorial dimensions, she said, and these acted as binding factors in terms of social response. "Experience has shown that when women from states of India forged unity on certain social issues, their combined action proved more fruitful and result-oriented than the scepter of law wielded by the State agencies response for maintaining law and order".

Some 14 women activists from other side of LoC are participating in the conference including teachers, lawyers, doctors and social activists.

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