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, January 19, 2009

Taking the Faithful for a Ride

An Editorial in the Kashmir Images discusses moral bankruptcy in the Separatist Elite

It seems separatist leadership in Kashmir is hellbent upon humiliating the people of Kashmir and the recent statement issued by veteran separatist leader and portions of the resolutions passed by his Tehreek-e-Hurriyat are brazen examples of this reality. On way to New Delhi, where he would be staying for two months in connection with his health problems, Geelani told a local news agency that people, who voted during the just concluded elections, should perform Tauba (a Muslim ritual of repentance if some wrong is committed). In Geelani's view people who have voted have in fact done wrong and therefore need to repent. Interesting to note that nearly 60 per cent of the voters exercised their votes and therefore Geelani wants almost the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir to perform Tauba.

Geelani is a senior and respected political figure of the state. He has represented his Sopore constituency in state's Assembly for several years and is known to be an able parliamentarian. People respect him and have great regard for him. But that doesn't give a leader of Geelani's stature to issue Fatwa against his own people. If majority of the people are wrong, who has given a license to Geelani that he and his party alone are the right? People voted because they thought they need to vote. It was out of their free will and living in a democratic world, peoples' will is to be regarded as supreme. Some religious zealots may argue that it's God's will that is supreme, agreed but God never asked Kashmiris not to vote. God made humans, gave them grey matter and allowed them to choose the right path.

More interesting were the portions of the resolution passed by Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. The resolutions tell Kashmiris not to think of "CONSTRUCTION". "We are oppressed and the oppressor would continue to indulge in destruction. We should steadfastly continue our struggle for realization of right of self determination and not talk about construction," the resolution said. Not only this, the resolution says that talking of construction in present scenario is killing for the freedom movement. The resolution doesn't stop there but asks people not to strive for good roads. "Let us talk about god roads once we get Azadi." One wonders how a party that is headed by a politician like Syed Ali Geelani should issue such absurd statement. Does the resolution want to tell people that they should not have goods roads to commute; not have good health care facilities to treat themselves; not to have good schools to get education…

What exactly is the resolution aiming at? Let Geelani, with due respect, be asked that if he wants people to live with bad roads, why is he flying to New Delhi for specialized treatment. Ordinary Kashmiris are not allowed to talk about roads and other basic facilities and leaders are free to get costliest and the best treatment in the reputed hospitals of India. Isn't it an irony?

The voter turn out may have given some set back to the separatist leaders but that doesn't mean that separatist leadership started humiliating the intellect of the ordinary Kashmiris. Leaders don't exist in vacuum. They need people and if all the people are wrong, as Geelani is trying to convey, leaders should either quit or join the mob.

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