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, November 22, 2008

Does Voting by Minorities Matter?

In the electoral battle among elephants, Mahesh raises an interesting question about rights and aspirations of minorities

(Mr. Mahesh Kaul, 29, was born in Ghat Jogi Lankar, Rainawari, Srinagar. He completed his Master's degree in Tourism Management (MTM) and is now pursuing Ph.D. degree at the Centre for Hospitality and Tourism Management (CHTM) of the University of Jammu. His doctoral dissertation topic is, "Marketing Strategies for Promoting Heritage Tourism in Jammu Region." He is a member of PATH-Preserve Art Treasure and Heritage.)

On Behalf of the Displaced

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is a state of contradictions. Contradictions in terms of politics, culture and society. Politically the ground in the state is not leveled. It can be witnessed from the arrival of the electoral process in which the so called mainstream political parties are too eager to participate. These mainstream parties want the solution of the Kashmir issue in terms of autonomy and self rule but at the same time say that the election is meant for the administration purpose not the permanent solution of the political dilemma that has engulfed this state in terms of sovereignty since 1947 when the subcontinent was divided on the basis of the two nation theory.

No political dispensation wants to address the J&K issue straightway; everyone wants to beat about the bush. This has resulted in complicating this issue. The more the straightforward approach has been delayed the more has the problem aggravated, as it has led to the emergence of more dimensions related to the Kashmir issue.

Uncertainty in terms of political climate when the majority community of the valley denies the loyalty towards the Indian constitution and the minority community of the Kashmiri Pandits shows open and clear allegiance to the Indian constitution has led to the identity crisis. This has resulted in the atmosphere of distrust and fear psychosis. It has not only led to the political conflict but also the social conflict that ultimately led to the displacement of the Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland. Whether the political players and separatists accept it or not the displacement of the Pandits from the valley has weakened the case of the majority community in terms of the right to self determination. Since it has led to the demographic change of the Kashmir valley in particular and the J&K state in general.

It has established the fact that the state is in the grip of two nation theory. No doubt this suffered the jolt when Bangladesh was created in 1971, but the concept of the Islamic homeland conceptualized by Sir Mohammad Iqbal and taken to its logical conclusion by Mohammad Ali Jinnah has divided the Kashmiri society in terms of religion and its ground result was the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley.

Until and unless we are not ready to accept the religious and political dimensions of the Kashmir issue outside the pseudo secularism propagated by the Indian political establishment and the Indian state, the solution of the Kashmir issue is not going to come out in the foreseeable future. Pakistan needs to understand too that the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from their ancestral homeland has changed the dynamics of the Kashmiri issue. It is no longer a case of the aspirations of the Muslim majority of the Kashmir who want secession from Indian nation but also the case of the aspirations of the internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits, who want the free flow of Indian democracy in the state.

Political powers and players in both India and Pakistan need to realize that Kashmir is not only a strategic region but also a region where conflict has created a refugee problem that projects it as a case of the human rights violations.

For the Kashmiri Pandits the election process has no political significance as it cannot change their status of being refugees or internally displaced people. The policy makers who want to create the concept of constituencies in exile are just creating an illusion. One needs to question the absurdity of the policy makers who feel that the Kashmiri Pandits should vote from outside their homeland. This raises the question mark, whether it is an act to safeguard the human rights of the Kashmiri Pandits or it is a deliberate act to hide their plight from the eyes of the international community.

Jammu and Kashmir issue cannot be solved till the state is governed by the special status of the Indian constitution and the part of the state that is under the Pakistani control is not taken into consideration as Indian state is bound by the Resolution of the Indian parliament, the government of India is answerable to the nation as to what it thinks of the part of the princely state that was also the geographic and cultural entity of the J&K? What about the refugees of 1947 who have been discriminated against till this day and not granted the state subject rights despite being the state subjects of the erstwhile princely state?

Keeping these facts in view one feels that the elections have no sanctity when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandit refugees and 1947 refugees are living in exile.

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