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, May 26, 2008

It was a different evening at the foothills of Zabarwan---- Junoon filled the air waves

Basharat experienced it first hand .... a musical Junoon like no other

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 28, 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.)

Sayonee… evokes musical Junoon of Kashmiris

SRINAGAR: With its scintillating performance on the banks of Dal Lake, one of South Asia's hottest rock band Junoon on May 25, 2008 evoked passion among the Kashmiri audience in a sufi-rock peace concert strengthening its claim as the most popular group ever in the history of Pakistani music. The concert was organized by the South Asia Foundation (SAF), with its chairman of India chapter inaugurating the concert.

Songwriter Salman Ahmad, who is also a guitar virtuoso with expertise evident in songs like Sayonee, enthralled the audience compelling them to sing along with the rock stars. Performing in Srinagar has always been one of the band's goals, said Salman before singing this number. "It is a 10 years long tryst with destiny," he said, adding that it was in May 1998, when he first went to India where he wished to perform in Srinagar. "But the common perception was that I would not be able to perform here in his lifetime.

"Majority in the audience comprising women and school children said they came to hear Sayonee, which is one of the most magnificent compositions and truly one of the many highlights of Junoon's albums. This song is a rage among Asians. Within a month of its release, Junoon sold over 2.5 lakh cassettes and till date it is climbing the charts.The song remained at the number one slot in Pakistan as well as in India for several weeks. The lyrics, vocals, hold a lot of depth and meaning, and the song once again helped elevate the listeners into the summit of spirituality, which was evident from the audience reciting it repeatedly even after they left the venue.

"I wish the musical vibrations full of love rebound in this valley spreading the message of peace in entire sub continent," Salman said while singing Bulle Shah's Sufi poetry. Among the audience, some music lovers observed that Junoon has created universal appeal by incorporating rock and has yet retained its essence of sub-continental South Asian classical music. "I am really enthralled with this mesmerising music," said Jehangir Ahmad who had managed to sneak inside the VIP gallery to watch his favourite rock star performing very closely.

The group Junoon (which means passion), from Pakistan created a distinct identity in a plethora of fusion bands, Jehangir observed adding that their style of music is a rich blend of Western rock with Sindhi, Punjabi folk and Sufi qawaali, although they sing mostly in Urdu.

On the one hand, the performance captivated the audience including women and children, the scenic Kashmir; South Asia's Sufi heartland, bewitched the rock band, with Salman on stage saying that he was himself soothed by performing in valley. "I have performed in many parts of the world but the satisfaction I got here is unmatched. I am really soothed," he observed.

Later he sang, "Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdeer se pehle" a poem written by renowned poet Allama Iqbal, carrying the audience to another world full of optimism and wisdom. Salam has beautifully composed this poem applying a modern musical approach.

Commemorating late Ustad Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan, Salaman had the audience on their toes with a captivating song "Dama dam mast Qalander". It really created such a magic that audience was swayed into another world, freeing themselves from worldly bothers of this conflict zone.
Before Junoon group, Jeet Singh's Avant-Garde band rocked mesmerized the audience with its English songs.

Former Sri Lankan president Chandrakumari Ranatunga, Afghanistan's minister for women affairs Hassan Bano, Afghanistan Ambassador to new Delhi Syed Makhdoom, union minister for Panchayti Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar, union minister for water resources Saif-u-Din Soz, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, minister for health Mangat Ram Sharma, minister for agriculture Abdul Aziz Zargar were among the few prominent people present on the occasion.

Full of zeal, zest, and enthusiasm, Junoon really created Junoon (Passion) among its fans who were eagerly waiting hours together in the scorching sunlight for the sufi-rock band which tried its best to convey a musical messageof peace and love.

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