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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

To her, "freedom" means no hatred, hostility or bloodshed


(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 17: She is deadly against borders, which according to her, divide human beings into citizenry. To her 'freedom' means no hatred, hostility and bloodshed. Meeran Mahmud, 21, a young lawyerfrom Lahore-Pakistan has a message for both India and Pakistan, 'avoid belligerence and focus on the human development.

'Meeran's grandfather Sheikh Mahmud Ahmad migrated to Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) from Srinagar in 1947. Born in an educated family she got her law degree from Kingston College London. However, upbringing in Pakistan and education in West had not deterred Meeran from loving her homeland Kashmir.

She still adores the vale like her own home. Representing the voice of younger generation of Pakistan in a first intra Kashmir women's dialogue titled 'Connecting women across the Line of Control (LoC), organized Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) New Delhi in collaboration with Women's Studies Center for J&K Universities, she advocated for a border free nationhood.

Meeran is privileged in her family as she will be the first to visitKashmir in last 60 years after her grandfather migrated to PAK. "My father was crying like a kid when I left for this visit. He insisted for photographs and notes from Kashmir so that he could feel hishomeland after my return," Meeran said on the sidelines of the conference. Her father Tahir Mahmud has been encouraging her to visit Kashmir for attending this conference right from when she received theinvitation from CDR, she added.

She is of the opinion that India and Pakistan no doubt have achieved the freedom from British but they are still the slaves of hatred,animosity, belligerence and violence. "The real freedom is far away from these two countries. When I was in London, we including Indians and Pakistanis were called as Asians but the same does not apply inour native places," she remarked.

She says that people in India and Pakistan are feeding venom to their next generations with the hatred laden text books. "Let me tell youthat the youth of Pakistan want peace and amity with India and no one among common masses is in favour of war and bloodshed in these two countries," she added.

Meeran opines that both India and Pakistan have a military might and are nuclear powers to protect themselves from each other but when it comes to education and development-- both are the failed states.

This young lawyer is in favour of a new beginning between India and Pakistan, saying that the borders of hatred, agony and bloodshed should be demolished as they serve any purpose except exterminating and annihilating the human beings.

Meeran believes that both the countries should resolve their disputes amicably so that hopelessness among their masses especially in Jammu and Kashmir ends. "I have found the people giving vent to their cynicism about the prevailing situation here. Me and many others of my generation from both sides of the border want to bridge this divideand be free to have social, economic and cultural exchange," sheadded.

Meeran rued that the youth in India and Pakistan are being provided a different picture of Kashmir but, "I believe that partition was a big flaw which created all these problems. This conference has given me a hope that solutions to these problems are available to relive the people across the border of their miseries which words can't erase and make them to forget."

She adds that the budget which is spent on the military might by both the countries should be spent on the development of their people."Both the nations spend one half or ¾ of their budget on their military to protect themselves from each other. Through peace and dialogue that money can be spend on education, poverty alleviation and development which would help us both to grow as the great nations,"Meeran said.

She added that the first step towards this development would be free movement of people and trade across the border. Meeran advocated for relaxation in visa rules so that aspirants from both the sides could avail the maximum benefits out of it."

I think all the roads, rail links, and air services should be opened to people. Communication channels should not be blocked. We can not make a telephone call to Pakistan from Kashmir, which mean curbing the fundamental right of a human being. Channels of communication shouldbe freed from these clutches and people allowed to talk and exchange their ideas freely," she added further.

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