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.

Friday, July 4, 2008

In Every Desert, There is at Least one Blooming Flower

A lonely voice stands tall among the sea of rabble rousers

Raise a voice (Kashmir Observer)

Dear Editor,

My humble greetings. I write to you as a brother of Islam and a fellow human being. The mockery of religion and politics that is unfolding in the Valley brings me to shame. As disturbing as this charade is, perhaps more disheartening is the fact that a small gesture offering comfort to people has been mauled into a grotesque show of power and threat.I fail to understand how this can happen and am afraid to ask why. My conscience is unable to accept the answer.

I ask you, sir, what has happened to compassion towards fellow human beings, as directed by our Prophet Mohammad? Can't we show a little consideration for people on a pilgrimage? Jammu and Kashmir belong to a free, democratic country. Then why this chaining of basic human right? Aren't providing amenities a fundamental duty of any government? Why drag a sacred entity like religion into this matter? The Haj is a sacred pilgrimage for you and me. I would like to see every Muslim going on the Haj, comfortable on his commune with God. Won't our Hindu brothers and sisters going on the Amarnath Yatra require the same consideration? These pilgrims don't even have hygienic toilet arrangements, medical facilities and a roof over their heads. Can't we extend some compassion towards them?

Creating a hue and cry by political parties is irresponsible and ignorant. Misguiding young minds by claiming that 'Islam is in danger'. The real danger is when we forget the teachings of our Prophet. Lets safeguard the true tenets of Islam by standing up of the rights of our fellow human beings. Lets urge the centre to stop all grants to Jammu and Kashmir until the human rights of every individual – irrespective of caste and creed – are safeguarded. I urge you to spread the message of Allah, of peace and compassion. Lets each raise a voice against this atrocity.

Faizal Sheikh
(via email)

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