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, May 3, 2008

Kashmiri Journalists Debate on Press Freedom on the World Press Freedom Day

Unfortunately the Civil Society has yet to realize its narrow focus while reporting the news in the valley - there is more to daily life than just politics!

Journos, academicians, officials debate over press freedom

Ishfaq Mir (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar, May 3: The Kashmir journalists here Saturday said that though the journalist community efficiently reported conflict in the region when everybody else left the Valley in search of safer havens, Kashmir media was not able to flourish into a full fledged industry.

The function on the World Press Freedom Day today organised by the Mass Communication Professionals Guild (MCPG) in collaboration with Kashmir Press Association was attended by noted journalists of the Valley who shared their views during an open discussion ‘Media in Kashmir – Challenges and Opportunities’.

Speaking on the occasion, BBC’s North India correspondent Altaf Hussain lauded the role of Kashmiri journalists and said that they stood against odds to prove their mettle.“When everybody left this place, Kashmiri journalists efficiently reported conflict. For us it was difficult to report the situation here as we were reporting our own conflict. To do so we needed to maintain balance and objectivity which at times was pretty thorny?”

However prominent journalist and Rising Kashmir Executive Editor, Riyaz Masroor said that despite thriving during the conflict years, the Kashmir media failed to emerge as an industry. Masroor said that there is an ample scope for print media in Kashmir.“Media is not considered an industry either by professionals or others. I strongly advocate media to be considered as an industry. We need to join hands to make Kashmir media progressive as it is having a direct influence on Kashmir’s politics,” said Masroor.

Zahiruddin, editor of a local English daily Etala’at lamented upon the role of Doordarshan Srinagar. “Unfortunately Doordarshan Srinagar is focussing on problems in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) and neglecting what should have been its prime concern. DDK Srinagar is highlighting the issues of PaK and forgetting its priority that is Kashmir,” said Zahiruddin. He was reacting to broadcast journalist Ghulam Nabi Ratanpori who opened up the discussion saying, “Journalism can not flourish in isolation and seclusion from political institutions. If they (political institutions) take a back seat, unwanted entities creep in and trouble the field of journalism. Moreover intellectuals need to participate in decision making but unfortunately intellectual freedom is missing.”

Director Information and Public Relations Zafar Ahmed while admitting that journalism in Kashmir despite shortcomings had grown and newspaper population increased substantially both in size and stature. Zafar said, “Our media has been facing challenges admirably well. Though the information department has its limitations we are trying to give our best.”

Appreciating the role of media in Kashmir, Farooq Renzu (DC, Budgam) said that journalists should refrain from ‘vengeance’ and ‘reactionary journalism’. Director DDK Srinagar Rafiq Masoodi made an analysis of media in Kashmir.

The programme was held at Institute of Management and Public Administration (IMPA) complex here. The World Press Freedom Day celebrated on May 3 serves as an occasion to inform the public of violations of the right to freedom of expression and as a reminder that many journalists brave death or jail to bring daily news to the people. World Press Freedom Day was designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to fredom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated every year on May 3, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

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