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.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On this World Press Freedom Day, a Veteran Kashmiri Journalist Exposes an Inconvenient Truth

Bashir Manzar advises his peers to do a bit of introspection lest they too get caught in a web of duplicity that has become the hallmark of Kashmiri politicians

(Mr. Bashir Manzar, 49, was born in Chack Ferozpora, near Tangmarg in Baramulla district. He matriculated from the Government High School in Chandilora, Tangmarg, and received his Master's degree in English from the Kashmir University. He is publisher of the English daily newspaper, Kashmir Images, Kashmir's only multi-edition daily newspaper. Mr. Manzar is a poet and has published a collection of poems in Urdu - gazals and nazams - 1n 1996 under the title, "Daire Ka Safar." His interests are reading, writing, poetry, music, travel, and of course, politics.)

On World Press Freedom Day, let’s look inwards ‘Enjoying government perks and privileges, we talk of morals?’


Srinagar: What is difference between God and a journalist? God never thinks he is a journalist!!!

Sounds humourous! But a reality that need to be pondered upon by those who are part of the “The Fourth Estate.”

May 03 - The World Press Freedom Day - people all over the world talk about freedom of press, victimization of media, curbs and pressures on expression…

CONFESSION: I, a member of the world press fraternity, am daring to look inwards. Do, the media that exists today really deserves to be free?

Yes, my statement negates the Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which states that freedom of expression is a fundamental right of people.

I too believe in freedom of expression but doesn’t my freedom end near your nose? And what if I don’t care hitting your nose?

I think while lamenting about the curbs and pressures, we the media people should this day decide to pose questions to ourselves. Questions – awkward and uncomfortable. How many times we hit ‘noses of others.’

Complaining about pressures by States is an old story. The States and the media have a long history of confrontation for varied reasons and if the confrontation ends then undoubtedly there is something wrong with media. The confrontation gives me hope that all is not lost. If the confrontation ends then either the media has decided to toe the line of the State or vice versa.

Let State’s do what they want to. Let media, for a change, look inwards. In the world of embedded journalists how fair we are to talk about freedom of press?

Leave embedded journalists aside, it is a foreign concept. Let’s have a look at ourselves, in the sub continent.

Flash Back: Legendary film actor Dilip Kumar is celebrating his birth day at his residence. He wants to keep the event ‘very personal’ and doesn’t allow media in. Scores of OB Vans are parked outside his Hill Road residence, Mumbai. Whole day the reporters are dishing out ‘Breaking News’ that Dilip Kumar is celebrating his birthday ‘inside this building.’

Same day, all the Safai Karamcharis (Scavengers) of Pink City, Jaipur have gone on strike. The city is stinking and no newspaper or TV channel covers the event.


And let’s come home.

Kashmir is a conflict zone and in every conflict zone media faces troubles from the warring groups. So did we! We lost our colleagues – we faced torture and humiliations – our newspapers were banned – we were abducted and harassed. And for all this, I personally have no grudges.

One party’s truth is another party’s lie and if both target media, instead of complaining, media should feel proud that it stands somewhere on a neutral ground.

Leaving ‘bigger issues aside’, how true have we been to our profession?

Aren’t we the people who make (in our reports) wives, sisters and daughters of the people, with whom we are not comfortable, flee with others.

Aren’t we the people who encourage and patronage former bureaucrats as columnists and analysts? And aren’t these analysts and columnists the ones who milked the system to hilt while in service?

And don’t we know that most of these columnists are the ones who were under radar during their services and they have not only milked the system ‘money-wise’ but even established ‘enviable libraries’ by stealing books from the government?

And aren’t we the people who exaggerate things that suit our personal liking and downplay the ones that we, as persons and not journalists, are not comfortable with?

If people have problems with government or others, they rush to the media and if they have complaints against media, where should they go???

How many of us are really ready to talk about our own ills?

I know, my colleagues will mock at this write-up saying – “A or B agency has sponsored it.” Let them, but I know my readers will appreciate this attempt – as I am trying to hit at the horns of THE HOLY COW, knowing it may hurt me as well.

On this day, while we spitting fire against STATE, let’s confess that we have no right to do so.


Most of our colleagues train their guns on government and are doing so while running their offices provided by the State Government!

There was a seminar held today to commemorate the day and most of the journalists who talked about government high handedness were the ones who are running their offices from the accommodations provided by the same government to run their newspapers and agencies (local, national or international).

Isn’t it a joke?

Coming back to the question rose in the beginning of this write-up, while God never thinks that He is a journalist, don’t we journalists think we are gods? Yes, we do.

We get accommodation, privileges and perks from the government and still want to be on the other side of the fence. Pity!

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