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

Pity the Dynamic Leader from Yesterday who has Become Nation's Shame Today

Afshana presents her version of theatre of the absurd: "The Beauty and the Beast"

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 34, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Mush: the man in news
Through the corridors
of time when
every moment dissipated,
all doors to vast expanse
of experience opened.
Dulcet voices
disclosed tales
of committed linnets
and mock-birds,
of Cupid and Caliban.
Colours revealed discrepancy
white here, black there,
Red the Scaffold,
golden the Crown.
Ugliness blemished beauty
Corporeal outclassed ethereal…
In the cosmos,
a midget swung,
dateless far & wide.
In an errand of mercy
with no purlieus,
it drifted away.
Escaping from the
hold of Account.
Fetterless but aimless,
it crumbles under
the piles of shame,
the heaps of sin
and the
beats of Lame Time.

Media-savvy Pak Prez Musharraf continues to be in news. This time, however, it’s for some very ‘fascinating’ reasons. One, he has been ‘accused’ of spending heftily on his foreign jaunts. The Pak government is reported to have disclosed in the National Assembly that Musharraf spent around Rs 1.5 billion from the national exchequer on foreign trips during the last five years. The senators were informed by the Foreign Minister that the Prez took with him a total of 1,325 people on 37 trips abroad since Feb, 2003 during which he visited 80 countries. The most expensive tour was that of Belgium, Cuba, the US and the UK during which Musharraf was accompanied by a 52-member entourage for 16 days (Daily Gulf News, 25 April,08).

His 10-day tour of the European countries last month has kicked up more dust. The cost of his three-day stay in a royal suite of a posh hotel near Hyde Park in London has amounted to Rs 63 lakh. Further, the Prez’s official entourage, including ministers and advisers, stayed in the same hotel, which is usually booked for international celebrities.

A column in Daily Jang Feb this year reported senior British journalists to be smiling all the time while Musharraf was disgracefully distributing charge sheet against Chief Justice of his own country to foreigners related to fuel/medical expenses, and probably his son’s admission in Medical College that happened a decade ago.

The column also highlighted the adding of a new executive 10-seater Learjet into his fleet of 14 VVIP aircrafts, the value of which was about 60 million dollars.

Another hot news making rounds is of the ‘love’ for Mush. A Toronto-based Mahleej Sarkari, crowned Miss Pakistan World in 2007 has created a stir by calling Prez “a hunk”. In an exclusive interview, she said—“Musharraf is charismatic, sexy, strong as well as cute! My fantasy would be to go on long walks on a beach in a cool breeze where I could have a romantic time with him. I wish I could exchange places with his wife and be his forever. This is my true confession” (IANS, 22April, 08).

The 25-year-old entrepreneur was born in Balochistan and moved to Canada some six years back. Having a penchant for modelling and acting, she has also won Miss Congeniality 2007 and Miss Disco runners-up titles. Citing reasons for her fandom, she said that she believed her country is beautiful and one day, it will be ‘free of radical people who hurt her generation…and Mush is the force behind eradicating these extremists and making Pak a safer place to live.’

Coming to the revelations about lavish lifestyle of Prez, it might have startled many. When politics becomes a hunting ground for disgruntled, such things happen. Politicians turn either corrupt or corruptibly hedonistic. To quote a Jewish writer—“A hedonist politician is one who adopts a living standard that is immeasurably higher than that of his voters and does not care at all how much it costs and who pays for it. The difference between the two types is huge: A corrupt politician takes, and gives something in return. A hedonistic politician takes, and doesn’t give anything in return. A corrupt politician is exposed through his income; a hedonistic politician is exposed through his expenditures”.

While it’s easy to dish out platitudes about standards in public life, the contemporary politicos as a whole are turning into a breed of insensitive crooks. To expect rectitude from them is simply silly. To quote- “They could no more stop thieving than Hitler could stop murdering”.

Mush is no exception. However, the hype and hoopla about his ‘contribution in saving and developing Pak’ is gradually sounding preposterous. His self-serving claims about the same as reflected in his autobiography In the Line of Fire notwithstanding. The best-seller author ‘Harry Musharraf’, as popularly nicknamed, failed to confess about his reign that actually turned country into a benighted land of paradoxes. Just one conspicuous and equally criminal instance: the decline in funding for education. It was during Musharraf’s regime that funding for education in Pak became one of the lowest education budgets relative to GDP than any country on the globe, resulting in the collapse of what was once one of the developing world’s better public school systems. Rest less said, the better.

As far Miss Pakistan, her fanciful awe for Mush smacks of generational nonsense. It does not necessarily represent the young mind in Pak, but it reeks of ideological emptiness of a particular nationality.

At the same time, it unravels the depth of depravity that a human mind can pitch in. Fetterless, such thinking can only bring drivel as well as doom. Drivel for the brains. Doom for the nations.

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