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, April 6, 2009

The K-Word: Is it Kashmir or Kentucky?

Ashraf wonders why Separatists keep writing letters to American Presidents, especially when America could not care less. But wait, there is more .... Kashmir actually belongs to America!

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, 66, was born and raised in Srinagar. He attended the S.P. High School and the S.P College before joining the Regional Engineering College at Naseem Bagh in Civil Engineering. However, he changed his career to adventure sports like mountaineering and skiing, completing his training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling and Gulmarg. He also completed a diploma in French language from the Alliance Française in New Delhi. He joined the J&K Tourism Department in 1973, rose to become its Director-General in 1996, and retired in 2003 after 30 years of service. He has been associated with the Adventure Sports at the national level and was recently re-elected as the Vice-President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, the apex body of adventure sports in India, for two years. To commend his efforts in introducing rescue measures in Kashmir Mountains, he was awarded “Merite-Alpin” by Swiss in a special function in Les Diablerets in 1993. He continues to be a member of the Governing Council of IMF and is also the President of Jammu & Kashmir Mountaineering & Hiking Club.)

Waiting for America!

For sometime past there have been many write ups that the United States of America led by its new dynamic President Obama may intervene to find the solution to the most intractable problem of Kashmir. In fact, this feeling had resulted from his pre-election discourses in which he had emphatically stated that for peace in Afghanistan it was essential to secure Pakistan’s eastern border and the ideal way to do that was to sort out the dispute on Kashmir. According to him the worst distraction for the Pakistan army preventing them in concentrating on the Afghan border was the emotional attachment of Pakistanis to Kashmir. If the reason for Jihad in Kashmir was eliminated, Pakistanis could be asked to devout full attention to the war on terror being waged in Afghanistan. This had given hope to many that immediately after taking over, President Obama will concentrate his energies in South Asia on solving this most vexed problem, probably among the last ones pending for solution for more than half a century. For some strange inexplicable reasons Kashmiris seem to have more hope on America than on their own selves in getting emancipated. They have failed to understand the American game plan. The real American face was shown very brazenly by their last President George Bush. In a way he was more practical and outright and left no one in doubt. According to him people all over the world were either with America or against America. There was no third option! This represents the true inner feeling of the American ruling elite. They see America to be the centre of the world. Everything else is subservient to this “reality”!

It is interesting to analyse the American attitude in regard to Kashmir right from the creation of this problem. Initially they were fond of supporting an Independent Kashmir which would be a bulwark against the expansion of the erstwhile Soviet Union. In fact, one of the main charges against late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was his hobnobbing with Adlai Stevenson, the then American Ambassador, for the creation of an Independent Kashmir. During the entire debate in the UN Security Council, Americans supported Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. In fact, there was a direct confrontation between America and USSR on the subject in all debates which took place in the UN. Americans supported their ally Pakistan and the USSR supported India. This continued during the entire period of the Cold War. No one knew that behind the scenes the Americans and the British had already decided to keep the pot of Kashmir boiling in order to keep their hold on the sub-continent. This was revealed a couple of years back through the declassification of some secret documents containing the minutes of meetings held between George Marshal and Bevin in Paris in late forties! However, as long as the erstwhile Soviet Union was there, Americans took an outright stand in favour of Kashmiris.

Once the Soviet Union disintegrated, their stance had an immediate change. They did not need any bases to lay a siege round the Soviet Union. Globalisation of the world economy forced them to reorient their aims and objectives. The priority now was the possession of control over the world energy sources and monopoly on the world market. Economy was the buzz word. Liberty, equality, fraternity, the three attributes of the French Revolution which also formed the basis of the American Republic lost their meaning for them. The control of oil wells, the access, and manipulation of markets in different parts of the world became the priority number one. They did not mind, in spite of claiming to be leaders of the democratic free world, supporting the most autocratic, ruthless, and dictatorial regimes and Sheikhdoms in the Middle East to keep their hold on the Arab oil. On one hand they supported these undemocratic Kingdoms and on the other hand they put the dagger of Israel in the heart of the Arab world. During the Bush era they went totally overboard and declared Islam to be a religion of terror and all Muslims potential terrorists. Americans tried their best to ensure that the entire western world turns against Muslims. Kashmir which was once dear to their heart as a nation struggling for its freedom became a hub of “Jihadi Terrorism”. They made a complete somersault. From supporting Kashmiris’ right to self-determination they came to support Indian hold on Kashmir. There are two reasons for this change. Firstly, Kashmir is now construed to be a problem of Muslims. If Kashmiris were Christians or Jews, things would be quite different. The living example is East Timor. Secondly, India is a massive market for Americans which they cannot afford to neglect especially with the fast growing economy of China.

It is difficult to understand as to why Kashmiris look towards America for justice and fair play in the face of these stark truths? Unfortunately, the continued oppression and development of a totally selfish outlook have made Kashmiris insensitive not only to the finer qualities of self-respect and dignity but have also made them lose faith in their own selves. There is total and absolute lack of self-confidence. It was really funny to watch some Kashmiri leaders pleading with President Obama through letters written to him and through their statements in the media, for intervening in the Kashmir dispute. There is only one conclusion that the leaders of the movement do not have faith in their own beliefs and convictions. If they had the convictions and were confident of the genuineness of their cause, they would not be pleading for foreign intervention. Highlighting human rights violations and demanding intervention of Global Watch Dogs of these rights for halting these excesses is totally different from pleading with the original creators of the conflict for its solution. It may be better to address the civil society in India itself by making them aware of the ground situation. It has been generally observed that the majority of people in India are absolutely unaware of the real ground situation in Kashmir. There is a general feeling resulting from massive propaganda that Kashmiris want to remain with India of their own free will. The recent massive participation of the people in the assembly elections is presented world wide as well as within India as a proof of this “truth”. Most people are made to believe that it is only a few hundred cross-border terrorists coming from Pakistan who are creating the problem. Not many people in other parts of India know that tens of thousands of Kashmiri youth, almost a complete generation has been killed. Not many know that thousands have disappeared without a trace and not many know that thousands are in different Indian prisons without any trial for last 18 years or so! Not many know that almost every inch of the civilian population is under the control of security forces having impunity for killing any one at the their sweet will on the mere suspicion of being a potential militant. All the international pressure and foreign intervention will not be as effective as the pressure of the public opinion and the civil society within India. The Algerian freedom struggle received a real boost when the famous French writer Simone de Beauvoir wrote a book about the torturing of the young Algerian girl Djamila Bopacha by the French soldiers. Kashmir’s real tragedy is the presence of dozens of parties led by dozens of leaders going in dozens of directions!

The first requirement for all these groups and their leaders is to put their act together. Unless they unite and have a common goal, Kashmiris would continue to wander in the desert. The least they could do is to educate Indian masses about the plight of Kashmiris which is not such a tall order!

There is a silver lining to the Kashmiris’ American dream. Dan Brown, the author of the controversial book about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, “The Da Vinci Code” is coming out with a book on Kashmir titled, “The Secret of the K-Word”. The author claims to have discovered the original document over which the Instrument of Accession, signed by Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh and preserved in the National Archives, New Delhi, was later superimposed. The secret document reveals that Hari Singh, equally apprehensive of joining either India or Pakistan, covertly ceded Kashmir to the US. According to Brown, when the map of Kashmir is reversed it becomes, uncannily, congruent with the hilly state of Kentucky in the southern US. Let us hope Kashmiris have not been waiting for America without a reason!


pran raina said...

First we have to understand as why Kashmiris want freedom or join Pakistan.This is a movement of Suni muslims in Kashmir to establish an Islamic Khaliphat in Kashmir and establish Shariat law in governance.Other people like Hindus,Sikhs,Bodhs,Gujars and Bakerwals and Shias are excluded in this movement,although together they constitute more than 60% of the population of J&K state.It is revertion back to medievalism.Already Kashmir has been cleared of the population of Hindus and continuous efforts are being made to demographically change other areas of J&K in favour of muslims.Last 600 years have shown a continuous process of ethenic cleansing of Hindus,who otherwise constituted about 100% of the population.The present rulers are Kashmiris themselves.Nobody from Delhi dictates them on.They are free to legislate their own laws,elect their own people.Security forces are being requested by them to help them to establish law and order and fascilitate Governance.

Eng.Mehmood(Kashmir Study Circle) said...

Justify open facts?
Ind-Pak via UNO & openly promised Kashmires to give chance for self determination
How those parties justify their logic, who does oppose the right of self determination?
India is engaged to curb Kashmir freedom movement via utilizing all brutalities.
How does India justify its democracy?
In addition to non state Hindu extremists official Indian hardliner security officials openly victimize Muslims especially in Kashmir.
How does India justify its secularism?
The present Kashmir freedom movement launched in the name Islam, then how few self-desired movement based tycoon elements justify their wealth & luxuries?

Kashmir study Circle

Vinayak Razdan said...

That Dan Brown story was a April joke published by TOI couple of years ago.