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, January 5, 2008

Azad Plays Machiavellian Politics, Sacrifices Principles Over Political Expediency

KPs, women fume at no representation in ministry

Rising Kashmir News

Jammu, Jan 05: Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has failed to please all sections of society by expanding his council of ministers. This time the Kashmiri Pandits as also the women have been left out leading to strong resentment in these sections.Those angry over the non-inclusion of a KP or a woman in the cabinet point out that it was for the first time in recent democratic history that they were ignored. It goes against much talked about issue of 33 per cent reservation to women in matters of governance and also to government’s plans about resettlement of Kashmir Pandits.

In the first three years of coalition government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed both had representation, though the lone KP minister Raman Matoo later landed in jail in infamous sex scandal. Suman Lata Baghat, was the senior cabinet minister. She also was under dock for her alleged corrupt practices.But this time many names were making rounds in Congress circles about possible nominees. Ashok Bhan, a Delhi based Congress leader and senior Supreme Court lawyer and MLA Khem Lata Wakhloo were the front runners for a berth in the cabinet. Bhan had a strong backing of Congress high command as he had also brokered talks between moderate Hurriyat Conference and New Delhi and was seen as a better face of KPs in the Congress.

Similarly Wakhloo’s induction would have pleased both the sections. A former minister in Ghulam Mohammad Shah’s regime, Wakhloo is a nominated MLA and has been loyal to party since she quit the Awami National Conference. Sources in the party said that pressure was mounted on Azad to accommodate one of them but he did not relent as he was keen to take in his close confidant Abdul Gani Vakil. Wakhloo told that the party might have thought about elections which are close and taken a decision accordingly. Though the sources said that she was not happy but she did not make a direct comment saying, “KPs don’t have representation in the ministry.”

However, Jitendra Bakhshi, Chairman of Action Committee for Return of Migrants was forthright in saying, “It is shameful on part of Congress to ignore KPs.” “I am opposed to Congress politics but they should not have done this,” he said adding, “The minority minister might not have done wonders for the community but it speaks lot about the Congress policy towards settlement of Pandits.”

Likewise the women also feel demoralised. Since the “restoration of democratic process” in 1996, the women have not been given their due share. In Farooq Abdullah’s government Sakina Ittoo was the lone minister when she started as Deputy Minister and then MoS. Later Suman Bhagat was the Health Minister in Mufti’s regime. While Congress did not make any effort to give women their due position, the PDP too did not contribute much in that direction inspite of having a woman as president. There are, however, a few women elected as councilors of various municipal committees and corporations as members but they are left with little powers to deliver.

Noted social activist Nighat Shafi Pandit said that the situation on this front was very disturbing. “Women have no voice in this state when they make 50 per cent population,” she told “Forget ministry even the State Commission for Women is without a chairperson. A minister was quoted as saying that there was no woman suitable for the post,” she said adding, “This is ridiculous.”

Referring to government’s plans to appoint chairpersons for various boards, she said, “It should not be an exercise for rehabilitating someone who has lost elections. If the government is spending huge amount on them then those people should be appointed who can contribute.”Shafi said that women were the worst sufferers in the state on account of all situations.

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