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, December 6, 2008

Triumph of Order Over Chaos

By relating decline in militancy with restoration of the state, Mehmood offers a new perspective on the elections

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

Kashmir: Why did people vote?

Why hope refused to become knowledge? Or to put it in simpler and immediately understandable way – why did people vote after having made every one believe that they reject Indian occupation of Kashmir? Why Boycott met with boycott and Vote was voted for?

What made people forget that just yesterday a million of them assembled in Eidgah, with another million serving them food and water all along the roads, in the length and breadth of Kashmir? How could it slip from their minds that in the morning they unnerved all the Unionist parties of J&K, and destabilised the entire Indian political framework, that they returned home in the evening having their votes cast? Beyond the borders of belief!

And Kashmir did all this when at the international level all the heads had turned towards Eidgah and eyes had got locked. Azadi had found a place in the vocabulary of political discourse about Kashmir, with its rightful meaning. Writers, columnists, and intellectuals, even in India, first time so vociferously, even passionately, backed the million march sentiment. And after having all this support achieved, it was so casually lost! Do we stand embarrassed before them, and do they stand embarrassed before their countrymen?! Such is the amount of shock that the murmur is not coming from anywhere as yet. Is the fault with what people speak at different occasions, or the problem lies with the way they are being understood? Do we tend to assign our preferable interpretation to the public acts, or is Kashmir really about a characterless person?

Days before polling, everyone had concluded it with himself that India and the Unionist parties were all up for another round of beating at the hands of people in Kashmir. Even the government and the pro India parties were knowing that only a thin trickle of people will visit the polling booths and the percentage of voting will be abysmally, but expectedly, low. They had their own peculiar reasons to conduct and participate in this election otherwise they knew they were uncomfortably perched on a lofty tower of disadvantage. But like the scenes of a mystery movie the hall was swept with shock waves. Long rows of voters made everything turn upside down. There was no boycott. There was voting. Einstein’s atom exploded, but without following any of his equations.

Having realised that the ground beneath has cracked, there is a frantic hopping around, everyone trying to explain it to himself, what went wrong. Seconds before, it was all so firmly grounded! As an emergency measure, minds were tuned to the argument that Azadi and Elections do not necessarily contradict each other. That people want Azadi, is an independent reality of Kashmir, and nothing is going to dislodge it. That elections are not meant to resolve the Kashmir dispute, but is only for the purpose of governance. That the UNO has already made it clear that the Right to Self-Determination is not impinged upon, in anyway, by the elections that are conducted only to administer the day to day affairs of a land. That Kashmir houses multiple realities, and none goes against the other. That the father of boycott, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, without taking the trouble of going any deeper to find out the murky realities that reside in the bottom of this pit, publically twists the ear of Sajjad Lone, devastating the reputation of Resistance politics. That people have become very intelligent to understand the dynamic of this situation. Absolute blather! A decadent church trying to strike an accord between opposites. While the earth remains at the centre of universe, Copernicus cannot be refuted! Kashmiris might have turned ‘intelligent’ in their own way, but the world that they are a part of is no stupid.

It is the extreme abuse of sense if we attribute intelligence to the act of voting. It is a sophistry of most reprehensible kind if the argument of multiple realities is applied to explain the high voter turnout. The argument of multiple-realities may essentially be true, but placing it in the back drop of people’s participation in elections is not equally correct.
Nevertheless, why people participated in elections, needs to be understood. If the immediate explanations make a part of that enquiry, there is no harm in starting with less tenable, or may be absolutely wrong, arguments. Unless we jib at making sense of senselessness, we can try even the hit-and-trial methods; who knows what ultimately will rarefy the mist and unravel the mystery.

Alongside all the arguments, opinions and explanations, this too may deserve our attention; the condition of Kashmir and the structure that allows this condition to stay and become more effective. Something of a pathology.

Forget all that happened just recently. Take your ears off those deafening cries for Azadi. Forget even what happened in the years of militancy, counter insurgency, revival of Unionist politics. Shelve the memories of blood and gore. Take your eyes away from the serpentine queues outside polling booths. Get back to 1989. That is where we always miss the thread.

Militancy might have in it the elements of conscious building up of resistance against the power of occupation. The amount of ground work that had been done by Islamic movement and other smaller groups, who had the elements of Islam, nationalism, rebellion, revolution, and Pakistan confusedly mixed in them, cannot be overlooked, while understanding the Kashmiri resistance against Indian occupation. But what did militancy ultimately do, apart from only large scale disruption. It created a vacuum. State’s civil control was almost removed. Political parties of Kashmir - NC, Congress, Communists, even the alternative political platform, MUF - were all gone. The temporary failure of state and Unionist politics was wrongly construed as the success of Resistance politics. Immediately after the appearance of militancy, we had parliamentary elections in Kashmir. That was the boycott everyone remembers. But it was understood as the rejection of old politics and embracing up of the new one. Fact of the matter was that the old was absent and the new was never present. The condition that the state had imposed and managed for many years was undone by the militancy. The condition that could have made people vote was vanished, hence they did not vote. But it was not boycott, as a positive and conscious act, even then. Once state took the offensive and restored the condition back, voters started craning their necks out. In the recent uprising, the state controlled condition was again undone. Since it was all a civilian move, it lasted for some months only. State restored the condition back and out came people. Out they came to vote. Unless this condition, and the structure that allows it to stay, is not understood, we will keep on receiving shocks. Pleasant and ugly, both. We will wake with Azadi, and sleep with vote.

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