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 8, 2008

Yet Another Opportunity to Form a Consensus is About to Evaporate

Mehmood suggests that so-called solutions to the Kashmir issue are meaningless unless there is there is an opportunity to debate pros and cons of any approach openly and fearlessly

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, mid-30's, lives and works in Srinagar. His commentary is published by the Rising Kashmir.)

Of Problems and Solutions

In our private discussions we always keep talking about the role of intellectuals in getting us out of the crisis that we are in. It is in fact the expression of the pain that our collective body suffers. These discussions, in fact, augur well if they are not just for the sake of passing time.

At an institutional level also we keep finding ways to deliberate on things at an intellectual plane. We have even started writing in detail about the possible solutions of the Kashmir dispute. From independent writers to political parties things are being discussed at length as what can be the possible ways of getting this people out of the present chaos. But if it becomes a part of the dull exercise of conferring 'recognition' on a select group of people or a sellable constellations of ideas, no good can be expected of it. Let us believe that it initiates a meaningful activity of untying the knots hitherto untouched. Let us pray that such initiatives start provoking the collective mind of Kashmir. Shake it out of the slumber and prepare it to confront the legions of questions marching to lay siege to it. For how long can the existence of such questions be denied? We can not duck the barrage of these questions. We can not shut our minds and presume that if there is a paradise on earth, it is here. It is not here. Surely it is not. We have to muster the courage and accept that we are the denizens of a wasteland. A land laid waste by those in whom this people invested its blood. Let it give a flip to a process of looking inwards rather than consuming our energies on imposed politics and putative protests.

Without being cynical about things, there is no other way than to accept that as a people we stand on dangerous cross roads. What made us reach here can not, and must not escape our deliberations. But while we deliberate on the crisis that we are deep in, we should not forget that more than anything else it is important to find ways of getting out of this crisis. Probably this is where we need to exercise caution. Instead of an academic involvement we need to intellectually engage with the process of understanding the situation. An exclusively academic approach towards the problem may reveal many unknown facets but it is more likely that it ignores the general participation of peoples' mind. Contrary to this an intellectual engagement invokes the interest of greater common mind. Without discouraging any kind of scholarly engagement, we only need to speed up the process of shaping up the public mind. Underlining the dangers yet pointing towards hope. With due regards to the grim visage of an academic, Kashmir today is in search of calm faced intellectual teaching the ways to negotiate the bends on the highway of crisis. Yes we need to be informed that we are caught but at the same time we must be told how to be out.

One way of ending the crisis may be plain capitulation and simple submission to the state-send ideas, political processes, Visions and Frameworks. That may get us a tentative relief but before long we will find ourselves in a bigger crisis. So like all other fields of life, there are no short cuts here either. We have to tread a path, long and circuitous. It is here that we need a guide that can hold our hand and see us through. One who can answer that eternal cry–of–crisis; what to do now?

It was the most unfortunate thing that happened when people rose in revolt against India in early nineties. The engine of the resistance was fuelled with some slogans and set off. Under the impact of ear splitting shrill people waited for something great to happen. A day or two and the rocket of resistance will be circumambulating the planet freedom. It didn't happen. Actually it wasn't to happen. The reasons of failure were so obvious and so many that even God wouldn't have helped us. Except giving birth to a situation that consumed life armed resistance was blank on every count. Immediately after some years the romance with freedom started getting sour.

Doubts, suspicion, disappointment and a subsequent loss of faith started gripping the minds. Thanks to the fear of the situation that none dared ask this question. We have lost the way? Any intellectual endeavour was fraught with consequences. The elements of our society were fanned out to extremes, where every thing becomes need driven. Law, religion, morality; all such ingredients of a lively civilization vanished. Those who knew that we have lost the way sealed their lips, because on extremes you need to save your life first. Those who found a chance to make killing out of it would consider such questions as blasphemous, hence a license to kill.

Those who discovered an opportunity in it to make their political careers did a fresh political ablution and set off on a holy journey to the temples of Indian political establishment. So everyone was busy addressing his own need.

Different 'realities' were imported and sold to Kashmiris. That we had lost our way , was actually the only reality and it remained covered up. In this sprawling market of 'realities', if anything was conspicuous by its absence, it was the reality.

Like many other things, collective condition has an inherent tendency to change. The darker areas started getting illuminated. The unasked question began to make a murmur. Slowly and gradually it gained strength. People started asking it. Now is the time to respond to this question. Either we, as a collectivity, can collapse under the weight of this question or we can emerge as a formidable force that has to be reckoned with.

When Lenin found himself shouldering the weight of this situation he yelled, 'what is to be done? ' When Iqbal confronted this loss of direction he cried exactly the same; Pas Che Bayad Kard( now what has to be done? ). When Faiz realized that the dawn of freedom that arrived was not the one that he had longed for, he went the same way, " Ab Tum Hi Kaho Kya Karna Hai"( Now you tell me what is to be done ? ) Giving voice to this question probably makes the beginning of the realization that it has come to a head.

The time demands the appearance of intellectuals on the collective screen. No more slogans please, we need to actuate ourselves into a serious debate. To begin with, intellectuals need to formulate this question; phrase it properly. Before we find out the answers, the real task is to shape up the question. It is a huge and Herculean task. We can arrive at the solution only if we understand the problem first. Any mistake here can cost us dare.

Political parties working for India in Kashmir have introduced their own versions of problem. From Kashmiriyat to Visions and Frameworks, they have adorned it in many different ways. They too build up their case from the same point; that Kashmiris can not afford to be in a state of affairs that they are in for long. No denying it; very true. Bt it doesn't need to do much to find out that how truthful they are ? An intellectual's task is to save this question from being hijacked. He too has to take off from the same point, but the language and content of his question will make the difference. Of course intent too.

In the crisis of today, an intellectual has to make it sure that he doesn't miss the sight of tomorrow.

Let us join Iqbal in his prayer;
Imroz Ke Shoorish Mein Andaishia farada dai
(In the turbulence of today, O God, make me conscious of what lies ahead.)

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