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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dream Kashmir

In Mehmood's dream, Kashmir is a model for justice, knowledge and beauty

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, 36, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He has been active in journalism for over ten years, and currently works at the Rising Kashmir as the Features Editor.)

We have a dream......

No barricades on its roads, no bunkers in the streets and squares, no camps and cantonments in towns and cities, no sprawling tracts of land under the dreadful occupation of Indian army, no carpeting of its landscape along the Line of Actual Control by explosive devices, no network of intelligence agencies sleuthing the life of an ordinary Kashmiri, no batons and bullets, no crackdowns and curfews, no frisking and firing, no widows and orphans, no arrests and tortures, no loot of resources, no plunder of honour, no poising of its society by religious hatred, no politics of extreme exploitation, no quislings and collaborators, no guns and grenades; No Indo-Pak rivalry, and absolutely no super-power diplomacy..................; we dream of a Kashmir where we are people and this is our land.

We dream of a Kashmir that is all about life and the beauties of life. A place where human mind flutters in open skies, soul discovers a blissful station to perch itself on. The resources that the nature has gifted this land with belong all to us. We dream of a body well past the scars of occupation ambling along the path of recovery. The Kashmir of our dreams belongs to its people and not to the military powers that surround its borders. Its politics is its very own, it has an independent economy, its society is free of mistrust, cynicism and animosity; it is deeply involved in educating the young generation to understand the world and interact with it meaningfully.

We dream of a Kashmir that writes its destiny the way other free nations do. We dream of a Kashmir where India is a benign neighboring country, if not a friend. We dream of a Kashmir that doesn’t hog the headlines for Indo-Pak military face off but is thrown into limelight for a work of literature that takes over the minds of the readers world over. Our Kashmir is not talked about by ‘Western military analysts as a potential trigger for atomic war’, but as an example of how the bitter memories of occupation are left behind and the society is prepared to bury the hatchet. How the perpetrator of the past, India, is considered as a neighbour and never an enemy. Our Kashmir teaches the world how death morphs into life. In the Kashmir of our dreams, Kafka doesn’t become Beetle, Beetle becomes Kafka. It is a land of resurrection and not doomsday.

Kashmir of our dreams will have no reason to go on frequent strikes and inflict harm on her economy; it will not feel forced, by the power of situation, to throw stones and get killed; no Indian military or Para military personnel would ask a Kashmiri to disembark a bus to get him frisked; no single Kashmiri will face the humiliation of carrying his identity card to present it as and when asked for, by an Indian soldier, a non-Kashmiri. Our Kashmir won’t be an easy prey for the Delhi-controlled politics; it will not be a testing ground for the machinations and chicanery of political parties - raised, funded, and used by intelligence apparatus of Indian state.

We wish that Providence makes the global politics reach a point where Kashmir suddenly becomes an impending task for the International community. Heads that matter roll and the regional powers are made to understand that unless Kashmir was unlocked the treasure of peace and development would remain hidden. Popular consciousness within Kashmir awakens and grasps the hand of God-send opportunity. The sun of hope breaks through the dark clouds of despair. The dream starts unfolding.

Can it all begin with the demilitarization of political rhetoric within Kashmir, in India, and in Pakistan? Can the verbal investments in the ‘national projects’ of controlling Kashmir freeze on both sides. Can the political leadership of Kashmir act in a matured way by not allowing the euphoria to set in, as it might embarrass Indian state before its own people, who she had always been feeding with untruth about Kashmir. Can Pakistan, instead of scoring a point, engage herself in not letting the old memories of partition and chopping up of her eastern arm resurface? Can political parties, religious organizations, establishment apparatus and the civil society of Pakistan prepares its population for a peaceful, yet radical, change in the politics of sub continent. We dream that while the two powers begin to change, political leadership and the popular consciousness of Kashmir take every care not to unsettle public sentiment in these two countries, and also don’t ignore the strategic apprehensions of the two countries.

With this tense beginning, the Kashmir of our dreams starts off her journey.

And then the fight over resources gradually changes into friendship over recourses. Kashmir gets technological help, and also human resource, from both countries, India and Pakistan, to keep track of development, but the ownership of all the projects aimed at harnessing the natural resources lies with Kashmir. As the time moves ahead Kashmir takes control of its projects by creating its own technology and allowing its own human resource to grow. This way Kashmir starts building up on its economic health.

Threat to life and property receding into past, political uncertainty gets replaced by a vibrant participatory democracy. Since Kashmir invests heavily in education and development, politics witnesses a sweet change. It gets free of exploitation on the basis of radical ideologies, religious obscurantism, and non-sense rhetoric feeding all kinds of perverse political projects.

In the Kashmir of our dreams people from here walk into Pakistan and India, as if the extension of their own territory. The memories of partition fade off and a new chapter of life begins - KASHMIR.

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