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, September 12, 2008

Those who Seek Freedom for Themselves Need to Respect the Freedom of Others

A letter in the Kashmir Times and an editorial in the Kashmir Images describes the dilemma faced by the "silent majority"

Letter to the Kashmir Times

Time table for hartals?

After so many hartals and curfews in valley the kids of valley are not in a mood to move towards their schools on normal days even. Few months ago, a person used to wait eagerly for a holiday or Sunday but now one does not need to wait. According to the date sheet provided by the Kashmir Coordination Committee, kids are very much satisfied to see so many holidays in the month of September which had very few gazetted holidays.

We can not blame kids only but the adults too who are working in schools and other offices are also always praying for maximum hartals in a week's time. They also don't wish to attend offices on daily basis. The month of Ramazan and rainy weather with pinch of cold wave, and all of them love to remain indoors.

A time table provided for hartals for the month of September by the Coordination Committee could only help them organize themselves better, is what many feel.

- Musavir Wani

Editoral in the Kashmir Images

Those who seek freedom for themselves need to respect the freedom of others. But unfortunately in Kashmir it is not so. The Coordination Committee, that claims to be spearheading a protest programme for Kashmir’s “freedom”, is scuttling the freedom of Kashmiris at every step. Mistaking the public’s participation in huge rallies as support to their individual selves, the leaders have started behaving like dictators. By issuing a calendar telling people what to do and what not to do, the Coordination Committee has tried to humiliate the intellect of the same people for whose “azadi” it claims to be striving.

In no civilised society can people be taken for a ride by a group of politicians and then dictated to schedule their working hours and other daily routines according to the whims of the group. The leaders and the Coordination Committee may be feeling on cloud nine as, till date, their programmes are getting good response of the people but they should not shut their eyes to the reality that people could be stretched to a certain limit alone. And if they are forced beyond stretchable limits, it would prove disastrous both for the leaders as well as for the people. It is true that people are responding to the calls and programmes of Coordination Committee but the Committee leaders need to realise that people are not following the programmes for the sake of individual selves of leaders but for the ‘bigger cause.’ The cause is – people want resolution of Kashmir issue according to their own aspirations and sentiments not that of leaders who fight over leadership slots and slogans in the public.

Strikes have never taken any nation to any positive direction. It is a leftist style of agitation with the intention of incurring loses over the capitalist industrialists. But here in Kashmir, the road side vegetable seller closes down and his closing down impacts neither the government nor any other force but simply the vegetable seller himself. It is interesting that the leaders, who used to describe hunger strikes as unislamic have resorted to strikes which have no Islamic history.

What have these strikes done to the education of Kashmiri children? How many days they have attended schools? Have the leaders and the Coordination Committee or these leaders ever thought about these issues? Do they want Kashmir’s future generation to remain unlettered so that they can’t raise their voices and pose questions allowing the present lot of politicians to do whatever suits their short term political agendas?

People are silent but that doesn’t mean they respect the Calendar Culture of Coordination Committee. Peoples’ silence doesn’t indicate their respect to the Coordination Committee’s illogical programmes but it indicates their respect towards the cause and their belief that the leaders may lead them to their desired goal. Despite the stupidity of the programmes, people stand by these with a hope that something good may happen. But the Coordination Committee should not take people for a ride. People have stopped questioning for a while but once they see that their silence is being exploited by some for their short term political gains they will speak up and once they speak up, leaders will have no place to hide.

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