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.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Counterpoint Against Recent Commentaries Critical of Hurriyat

Riyaz offers a counterpoint in defense of the Hurriyat

Expecting too much from APHC shows how little we know about others

(Mr. Riyaz Masroor, 36, was born and raised in Srinagar. He is a Srinagar based journalist who writes in English, Urdu and kashmiri. Besides working in the local press, his articles have appeared on BBC Radio online, Himal Southasia and the Journal of International Federation of Journalists.)

Most Kashmiri column writers seem to have held hostage their critical thinking to the problems of Hurriyat Conference and its loose affiliates. I have earlier mentioned in these lines that the Hurriyat Conference is the product of a particular situation not the creator of this situation.
I may elaborate that the Hurriyat, therefore, is neither the total problem nor the total solution. It, in fact, may be part of the solution yet it is not even the part of the problem.

When the opinion makers hand out lengthy prescriptions of strategy to APHC telling it how to protect the people and ensure their survival, it is the sheer display of conceptual uncertainty that is rampant among our tiny yet much celebrated writer community.

If the purpose of their stingy writings is to empower the popular aspirations with reason and knowledge and orient these aspirations toward healthy progression, that purpose is sadly being defeated by expecting a right thing from a wrong quarter.

Take for example these expectations:
• Hurriyat should protect life from further annihilation
• Transform the resistance concept from a death-aspiring into a life-saving model.
• Enrich the concept of freedom with relevant content to make the advocacy a success.

These expectations have no problem per se. But two things become clear in these expectations, recurrently appearing in Kashmir's English press. For one, Hurriyat Conference is mistakenly understood as an entity endowed with state powers.

Secondly, while heaping scorn over the separatists for their incapacity to "lead the nation" our worthy writers show an unhealthy continuation of primitive understanding about the concept of leadership.

Let's take these conceptual flaws about political expectations and definition leadership one by one.


Anyone trying to understand the Kashmir issue in isolation with the modern systems of governance and public welfare is most likely to digress in the course of his or her commentary. Before we attach too many expectations to APHC we better have a review of our general knowledge about the duties of a democratic government.

The primary aims of government, says Bertrand Russell in one of the famed Reith Lectures of BBC, should be three: security, justice and conservation. "These," according to Russell, "are things of the utmost importance to human happiness, and they are things which only government can bring about."

Just compare Russell's model of governance and the aforementioned expectations from Hurriyat Conference and you will know how erroneously a dissenter group riding over the popular sentiment is being elevated to the status of a government.

'Liberty of the subject' and 'rights of man' is the ideal which the champions of human rights have espoused and achieved. But they achieved these goals when their point of dissent and criticism was an unjust government not a group, however faulty, sharing their ideals.

Protection of public life is a security debate, which should not be confused with conflict politics. And security can only be expected from a government, howsoever flawed in character and form.
How funny it looks when the government forces kill unarmed civilians our writers cry: Hurriyat should stop this and don't let more people die. Why this unnecessary importance to Hurriyat leaders? Is it possible when the killing of innocent persons has their 'calendar of protests' in tatters and people disobey their calls and take to streets?

It is not the question of who should ensure the public security; the question is who can actually ensure the public security. Some columnist may wish that Hurriyat should provide public safety, but the bitter fact is only the government can do that.

When expression of dissent at mass level is dealt with brute force, forces like Hurriyat get automatically relevant because they have allied themselves with the dominant sentiment. People respect the alliance not the person. Syed Ali Geelani may have contested more elections than Omar Abdullah but the former derives social sanctity out of the alliance he has forged with the popular sentiment. We have seen a former minister, late Abdul Gani Lone, espousing the Kashmir cause and yet drawing crowds in the name of Azadi.

When such socially credible but politically powerless forces are urged to "safeguard public life" it is like deriding the popular sentiment because such calls make it appear as 'destructive', though destruction comes when some actors choose to mess up. So, those enjoying affinity with sentiment cannot ensure safety but those flirting with the sentiment besides enjoying power can do that if they wish so. When a smaller player is assigned with a bigger role things are more likely to go wrong.


Much of the newsprint has been blackened in Kashmir to lament over the "leadership vacuum". A quick glance over the evolving definitions of the leadership will tell us how much flawed and mythological this debate has been.

The leadership is nowadays said to be an occasional act, not a fixed role, which can come from any direction. In the same parlance Hurriyat Conference, in this multi-act conflict theater has been an occasional actor, not a lead role player (Though it sometimes wants to play the lead role).

In fact, there is no lead actor. We've witnessed occasional leadership acts coming from National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, APHC and United Jihad Council. All of them have their own set of stigmas and flaws yet all of them have provided an occasional act of leadership with varying degrees of importance during their respective innings.

Their achievements and failures have to be understood and critically analyzed in the light of a 'background role' played by New Delhi and Islamabad. Hurriyat leaders are not the only ones in the game and they don't possess the magic lamp of Aladdin. Are our writers willing to introspect?

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