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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mirwaiz's Excuse or Ruse?

Nazir says Kashmiris have a right to check the income and expenditure of Hurriyat

(Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, 59, is a jurist. He was born in Naranthal (Jalshree) village near Baramulla and was a student at the Government Degree College in Baramulla. Subsequently, he studied English Literature and Politics at the University of Kashmir, Law at the Sindh Muslim Law College in the Karachi-Pakistan, Islamic Law at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), International Law at the Queen Mary University London, Victimology at Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik - former Yugoslavia, Peace Keeping/Humanitarian Operations & Election Monitoring from Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento S. Anna - Pisa Italy, and has a Ph.D. in the Jurisprudence of UN Resolutions and Kashmir Case. He successfully argued a constitutional writ petition in the High Court of Azad Kashmir from December 1992 to April 1999 on the question of self determination and duties of AJK Government. As a lead human rights advocate he has faced a sentence of 5 years imprisonment and 15 lashes and a death sentence during the Martial Law of General Zia in Pakistan. Dr. Gilani has introduced awareness around the title of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to a Rights Movement since 1877 and the respective sovereign claims of India and Pakistan since 1948.)

Kashmir Politics and Recession

A faction of Kashmiri leadership domiciled in the urban comforts of Srinagar, some permanently and some on a make shift basis, hats off to Kashmir politics plc, stunned a miniscule of news paper readers and TV enthusiast, that the world recession had hit their political enterprise as well. As a result of a claimed financial crisis in “Hurriyat (M) plc” it has been decreed that leaders would return to their native places, district offices would be closed, 16 office bearers relieved, salaries of rest cut by 50%, smaller parties to merge in major constituents and establish contact with Jammu Muslims.

Nobody knows when Hurriyat (M) held an open public debate on taking an unprecedented tell tale decision to declare the 132 year old Rights Movement an ‘orphan’ which needed a contribution in terms of Khairat and Sadaqa.

The leadership has disgraced itself and shamed every honour bearing man, woman, young and old Kashmiri of all manner in and outside Kashmir, when Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that “he had started a fund raising organisation 'Darul Khairaat'. Few months back, Mirwaiz said, "The response from masses has been tremendous. We are receiving huge donations and have the responsibility of using the peoples' money in a judicious way." Mirwaiz has taken this decision as a politician and pubic interest demands that we examine its merits and demerits.

The first and foremost question would be if he has floated another organization called organisation 'Darul Khairaat' few months back, why did he withhold this information so far from the general public and who were the people who took part in scrutinising the existing state of financial affairs and concluded that there was a financial crunch and required Khairat and Sadaqa. If the movement was powered by popular sentiment, which it is, Mirwaiz and others enjoying his close proximity have no right to disgrace the movement to a point that they have, without any reference to people, started a 'Darul Khairaat' to receive donations.

Public has a duty to ensure the flow of funds for the movement and Mirwaiz and others ordered by some quarters to remain in his close proximity have a duty to remain transparent in their private and public expenditures and the public has a right to examine the financial record of the movement. Mirwaiz has divulged all the areas of expenditure and he cannot claim any privilege in hiding the financial record from a member of the public. In the aggregate interests of the movement one may allow him a degree of privilege to maintain the confidentiality of a fraction of this expenditure but that too has to be examined in camera by a body of concerned people.

It seems that the announcement was cleverly timed to coincide with the observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and other parts of the world to exert pressure on the hand that holds the purse in Islamabad. The announcement embeds an interesting invitation for the concerned quarters in India as well to step in and bail out Hurriyat (M) from this financial limp. And the Indian Government would not be unconcerned on the subject. It too has a contractual obligation in the State.

Since Mirwaiz has gone public in regards to finances one would ask him the reasons that have caused the drying up of the source of donations. He may equally be called upon by the authorities to disclose the sources that used to fund his faction of politics. Without prejudice to our right to seek a fuller account of the spent finances, the manner of expenditure and the source of funding we have a reasonable cause to say that Mirwaiz is not tailored to lead the Kashmir Case without fear and his understanding of the case is abysmally unreliable.

Mirwaiz does not need to float 'Darul Khairaat' and disgrace and shame us all by seeking Khairat and Sadaqa. He does not need to close the district offices, lay off employees or slash salaries by 50%. He needs to introduce austerity, transparency and accountability and has to start from himself. Kashmir Movement is rich to finance itself and the leaders are required to keep their balance sheet clean to access and demand these riches. Under the present circumstances Mirwaiz remains directly responsible in bringing the Kashmir Movement to the point of insolvency. Government of Pakistan and the Kashmiri Diaspora from the Valley helped him as Chairman of undivided Hurriyat to appear at the Islamic Summit in Casablanca, Morocco in December 1994 and present the Kashmir case. He was accompanied by another senior leader Abbas Ansari.

Islamic Summit in December 1994 under Resolution ICFM/22-94/PIL/DR.3/Rev.1, under item 10 has resolved and appealed to all “Member States, OIC and Islamic Institutions, such as Islamic Solidarity Fund, and philanthropists to mobilise funds and contribute generously towards providing humanitarian assistance to the Kashmiri people”. Mirwaiz needs to be asked in regards to the funds that have come consequent to this principal and summit appeal for the last 15 years. If these funds have been received by the Government of Pakistan, why did he and his other associates, who have been enjoying the luxury of unhindered travel to Pakistan and have continued to meet Pakistani authorities in Delhi and Islamabad not questioned in the cause of movement. If the income and expenditure record of Hurriyat (M) is clean, they need not fear and should hold Pakistan accountable for the last ‘Paisa, Riyal, Pound or Dollar’ which it has been receiving from December 1994. The people of Kashmir need to know the mechanics and real dynamics of the interest of Kashmiri leadership. And if the Genie ever came out of the bottle and started asserting right to question, I am confident that hell will break loose. A pro India, a pro Pakistan or a believer in an Independent Kashmir all conserve a right to check the income and expenditure.

Kashmiri leaders need to ask the Government of Azad Kashmir constituted on 4 October 1947 and reconstituted on 24 October 1947 to pay from its budget a due share towards the Rights Movement in Kashmir. And movement does not mean paid politics. It means welfare of the people. They need to ask the Government of Pakistan to pay from outstanding dues of Mangla Dam and the incomes collected from ‘Kashmir Properties’ spread of all over Pakistan. Pakistan is using water of Mangla Dam, a natural resource embedded in the habitat of Kashmir and it has made a declaration in this regard on 3 October 1957 at the UN.

Kashmiri leaders can negotiate with honour their due share of money from Azad Kashmir and Pakistan only if they have not and do not negotiate their private interests in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. Mirwaiz remains accountable to give the people of Kashmir (every State Subject), urban and rural, a full account of the privileges and private interests that Hurriyat leaders domiciled in Srinagar and its representatives stationed in Islamabad have negotiated and continue to negotiate with the Government of Azad Kashmir and various sections of the Government of Pakistan.

More so Mirwaiz should differentiate between his office as a religious leader and his office as a political leader. His advice to “smaller parties to merge in major constituents” is too late but better late than never. However, his advice to them to “establish contact with Jammu Muslims” is a communal statement and it violates not only the constitution of Hurriyat but remains at war with the Provisional Declaration of the Government of Azad Kashmir. The Rights Movement is all inclusive. It is for all the State Subjects of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. A careful read of JKCHR UN Document E/CN.4/2005/NGO/204 of 28 February 2005 would help the leaders in this regard.

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