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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cannot do With it and Cannot do Without it

Mehmood rationalizes why separatists should keep doing what they are good at

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

Glib generalisation, daunting detail

Boycott-camp turned very uneasy when people cast votes in good numbers, absolutely against the expectations. They couldn’t believe their ears and eyes. Rather than accepting the debacle mentally and sitting down to understand what had happened, they wanted to do away with the bafflement in their peculiar way. At the core of this attitude is their unwillingness to accept failure and their inability to come out of the alcove of denial. They wanted to beat the force of tide that so menacingly rose to decimate their castles of imagination, by issuing statements, completely blank on sense and stuffed with emotional and moral appeals.

Rather than questioning themselves they again questioned people. This pulpit-syndrome once again blinded them to the source of failure. It was like an ocean in rage and a ‘saintly’ naivety (stupidity!) imploring before gods while being mindless of what was going to sweep it over soon. More ridiculous was the attempt to put a bold face and go ‘whole hog’ to congratulate people (congratulate!); God knows who Geelani Sahib wants to deceive and who he wants to prove wrong. Fact of the matter is that this has been a endemic defect in Resistance politics right from its inception up to this minute. They love to make themselves a laughing stock.

All in all there have been three kinds of responses from Resistance camp that flowed into the local media. Loosely one can categorise them under these heading: Emotional, Ethical, and Rational.

Ethical response started surfacing up immediately after the first phase of elections was over. Rising Kashmir newsroom received a press release from one of the women organisations, known for its radical and firebrand approach and its irrational treatment of themes like Resistance and Islam. It appealed to people of Kashmir to refrain from voting. It reprimanded them. It pronounced certain harsh things. It exactly equated voting with an acting of apostasy. Now who can buy this stuff! Not even God, in whose name they avowedly do it. For this section of Resistance camp, voting implied denial of God’s sovereignty. A Poor soul of a border district, whose only concern is to save his skin from the Army camp in the backyard, or to secure some days of work in a government department, or to keep a candidate of his locality in god humour, or may be even to deliberately participate in the process of elections, knowing fully well that who it goes in favour of; how do you expect him to know what this bombshell Sovereignty means! Maududi didn’t use the concept in this cheap way!

Benign version of this ethics was Geelani’s statement that people should repent for having cast their vote. At the most once can explain to Kashmiri people that casting a vote is an incorrect decision keeping in view the situation in which it is cast and the effect it leads to. Even while doing so one may, per chance, hit at the fact that he was to correct himself only. How can this matter be fit into the paradigm of sin and virtue. There is nothing like transgressing a divine commandment. Are we to pass a papal edict or deal with a situation that drives men in different directions?

Another stream of response was Emotional. Taking recourse to the memory of martyrs people were appealed to desist from becoming a part of election process. Without having slightest intention of undermining the value of martyrdom, it applies to all the Muslim lands that the institution-of-memory that has been raised on the grounds martyrdom and suffering is the cruellest thing that has happened to them. Now there is no harm in being emotional about certain things as long as they pertain to one’s individual life. In the collective sphere emotions are rarely helpful.

A mix of emotional and ethical response was found in the article by Maulana Showkat of jamiat e Ahle Hadith. The article appeared in Kashmir Uzma on Dec 27th. Upshot of the article was that we should not feel disappointed at what happened in the elections. Although it was a pleasant surprise to find the head of an organisation that is considered very astringent and radical in its assessment of people’s conduct trying to defend Kashmiris and allude towards the predicament of situation. But what doesn’t gel with reality is the element of exhortation. Bringing the oft repeated Quaranic verse that disappointment borders disbelief and people should remain steadfast in their commitment towards the cause of Freedom may have a salutary effect on the reader’s mind, but it is all transitory. This kind of an approach always keeps Resistance movement from engaging with the details of the situation. Such generalisations blind them to facts that actually lay in details.

This emotional and ethical response is the fall out of Resistance movement’s lack of knowing the outer world, and how it operates. Since the majority of such people originally belong to Islamic movement, they carry with them the inadequacies of the discourse that was weaved around the concept of Revival and bringing Politics and Religion together. Such approach needs a serious revisit.

In all this ‘sacred; talk there was a lone voice that sounded this-worldly. Sajad Lone’s idea of framing a concept paper on why people didn’t support boycott call, and his vociferous and unambiguous rejection of Hartal and stone-pelting as methods of Resistance, is a rational departure from what Resistance has been doing here for all these years. Sajad has made a nice beginning, but to save it from abortion he has to subject himself to a change of political behaviour. The way he burst on two occasions and proved incapable of holding back his anger, speaks of a serious inadequacy in his political behaviour. As an individual it was all understandable, but politics is primarily going beyond ones individual. If Sajad Lone has shown his proclivity towards going into the details of things he should not forget that Geelani is the most important and a dominant detail of this Resistance Movement. Undoubtedly, Sajad’s idea to introspect is timely but the key to change lies with Geelani. While contemplating on embarking on a qualitatively different political thought, Sajad Lone has to improve his political behaviour and accept that Islamic movement has provided strength to Resistance movement.

To move ahead of generalisations and grapple with detail, both need to go together. The details are daunting, and can be ignored only at the peril of Kashmir.

Tailpiece: Once Jinnah and Gandhi were scheduled to meet at Bombay. For some reasons Gandhi could not make it to the meeting place. A journalist met Gandhi and asked about his future plans. Gandhi replied, “My inner light will guide me”. He later met Jinnah and sought his comment on Gandhi’s answer. “To hell with his inner light; will he ever behave like a practical politician”, pat came the reply.

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