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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Staring at the Crossroads of Reason and Rhetoric, a Patriot Suggests a way out

Ayaat has a suggestion for for politicians - the need of the hour is mature leadership to pull us out of the crisis

(Mr. Ayaat Butt lives in downtown, Srinagar.)

Reason must prevail

The voice of reason is not appeasement; it is an acknowledgment of reality. It is more pragmatism, less romanticism. Voice of reason is not prevailing over the rhetoric of hatred, both in New Delhi and Kashmir. It isn’t an issue of intention, it’s an issue of how ideology and sensibility effects the people. Both Jammu & Kashmir and New Delhi stand at the crossroads. The rhetoric is becoming shriller. Those who oppose any accommodation with Kashmir or New Delhi are leaving no stone unturned to issue warnings about the dangers that lie in the path of the reconciliation, invoking history in the bargain. As the infinitely stronger party in the conflict New Delhi must accept responsibility for its failed and oppressive policies. Here, repressive actions on the ground are continuing to feed the trend of radicalization on the pro-freedom side and are strengthening the radical viewpoint. To prove their point, they need only point out how New Delhi has not listened to any requests by the civil society to end those practices that serve to consolidate the occupation or release prisoners.

Hawks think it a mistake to negotiate with Kashmir until New Delhi creates situations of strength around the globe. I fear the Indian Political Leadership & common people would not understand the importance of saving Kashmir unless they saw how that tactical decision fit into the transcendent task of building India as future super power. India needs to blend strength with moral purpose.
The Kashmiri leadership is needed to be reminded what the fight was all about. It was not, in fact, about how the fate of Kashmir might affect its strategic situation in the south east Asia. That is how India and Pakistan thinks. It is about the fate of freedom in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., has said that there are times when “we need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure.” Think simple, not complex.

Will the leaders of Kashmir, on whom the aspirations of their desperate people rest, show the statesmanship expected of them to break out of the vicious circle or will they succumb to petty and devotee politics? Will they hand over to the next generation a future of peace and prosperity or death, destruction and uncertainty? Kashmiris are watching. We cannot afford now Kashmir going again as an intractable conflict. This time it needs a final push, so leadership needs to act, chalk out a blue print for solving the issue. You don’t need to remind Kashmiri’s the history of dispute, it is now in our blood. India also knows what Kashmir wants. They have heard much of We want sloganeering since 1947.Shows of strength and unnecessary hartals have been enough. We don’t need leaders with magnificent command on speeches and quasi-philosopher quotes or having bio-datas of jail service. We need to have negotiators, managers and experts. There is a need of very limited number of individuals who will be deciding the negotiating positions and tactics.

Lack of foresight and leadership has cost us dearly in the past. Kashmiri leadership should come forward with a masterstroke of astuteness. They have shown the representative Character. Let them challenge New Delhi to come forward for a seemingly open-ended dialogue and as such disassociate from the dead-end politics.

Despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict and there are partners for peace. If anything, we of the peace movement must not allow the powers-that-be to mystify the conflict, to present it as a “clash of civilizations.” The New Delhi-Srinagar conflict is political and as such it has a political solution.

Learning from history, India’s first prime minister displayed great statesmanship during the early years of Independence. India invited Lord Mountbatten to be its first Governor General. In that one gesture, all the acrimony of 200 years of colonial rule was forgotten. Later, when India became a republic, Nehru devised a formula whereby India continued to remain in the British Commonwealth. There is dire need for such statesmanship in the higher echelons of our leadership today.

Historically, longstanding and bitter conflicts have been resolved when leaders have shown statesmanship accompanied by magnanimity, a spirit of accommodation and the ability to put behind the past for the sake of a happy future.

In the 15th century, Yorkshire, represented by a white rose, and Lancashire, represented by a red rose, fought the famous War of the Roses. Ultimately, Henry of Lancaster defeated Richard III of York at the Battle of Bosworth Field to become Henry VII and found the House of Tudor. Henry promptly married Princess Elizabeth of York, in an act of reconciliation, uniting England. Rivalry has existed between Lancashire and Yorkshire ever since, although it is mainly on the cricket field, although Yorkshiremen still say that the only good thing to come out of Lancashire is the road to Yorkshire!

Both England and France, which fought each other for hundreds of years from the 14th to the 19th centuries, are today co-members of the European Union. The English still call the French “frogs’ and the French ridicule English cooking, but that has not stopped them from joining the two countries with the help of the ‘Chunnel’, a tunnel under the English Channel.

Where would we be today if world affairs were carried out in a primitive and schoolboyish he-pinched-me-first manner? Would Britain and the United States still be smarting from the American War of Independence? Would the American North and South still be wanting revenge on each other following the four-year Civil War in which over a million people died. In fact, one of the first acts of Abraham Lincoln was to set in motion the process of reconciliation.

The West has realised that a policy of forgive and forget yields far better results than vengeance and reparation. Allied leaders showed little statesmanship after the First World War, when they imposed extreme conditions on a defeated Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, creating an environment which gave rise to Hitler. The five-year Second World War resulted in millions of casualties, but this time victory also brought in its wake generosity, resulting in the establishment of the United Nations and the introduction of the Marshal Plan to revive a war-torn Europe.

No country suffered more in the Second World War than the Soviet Union, which lost 20million people, one-tenth of its population. Yet today Russia wants to join the European Union and NATO. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the country gave back to Poland the part it had usurped after the War. It also granted the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania their freedom.

In the east also, a Japan which had carried out the attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour and which became the only country to receive an atom bomb became the staunchest ally of the US.

Nearer present times, the United States lost nearly 65,000 men in their fifteen-year war in Vietnam. The US bombed Hanoi and mined Haiphong harbour during that war. Yet just a few years after the Americans departed from the top of the US embassy in 1974, the two countries are on friendlier grounds. A US president has made the first official visit to Vietnam and Vietnamese are flocking into the US.

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