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.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Asinine Politics of Opportunism

An Editorial in the Daily Kashmir Images laments on destructive behavior of separatists

Hartal politics

With the Parliamentary elections over and north Kashmir recording very good poll percentage in comparison to south and central parts of the Valley, the question that needs to be answered is whether the poll boycott call given by two factions of Hurriyat and other separatist leaders has helped poor Kashmiris in any form. Answer is a simple no. Election is a democratic process wherein people are given a chance to elect representatives who they want to run the affairs of the state. They choose people for administrative purposes. Things can’t happen in a vacuum and therefore governments are needed to make things move. If those who run the government have peoples’ mandate, they are more accountable and have to deliver. In the lack of elected governments, the people have no access to the rulers and thus their voices go unheard.

Those who advocate boycott of polls are linking the broader Kashmir issue with the poll process. Respecting their perceptions, one needs to ask them – in 1989 only two per cent voters voted in Valley. So was Kashmir issue resolved? And in 2008 elections, the poll percentage was above 50 per cent – did that change the status of Kashmir issue? The answer is simple no.

Linking broader Kashmir issue with polls is not going to help anyone. These elections this time were held for forming government at New Delhi. Whether a few million Kashmiris would have voted or stayed away, the government would still be formed. Those who reject elections and want people to stay away from the process need to be asked that have ever their boycott call forced the Election Commission to stop conducting elections? No, it will not and therefore the only thing that happens in the wake of low turn out is that unwanted people get elected and the general masses suffer.

We can’t stop our kids from going to school till Kashmir issue is resolved. We need health care, pure drinking water, good roads, power projects, employment avenues and all these can’t wait till resolution of the issue. Elections are for electing a group of people who people believe can deliver better than others.

Anyway, the elections are over so the boycott debate too must end now. Valley has seen too much of hartals during the election period. People have suffered too much. The economy of this place is already in a shambles and the unending hartals and protest calls are finishing whatever little of it is left. The frequent strikes have ruined the academic calendar. Agreed that separatists have every right to pursue their political agenda but politics is a game of strategies and you can’t keep trying a method of agitation endlessly knowing that the method helps neither your cause nor the common people.

Now that elections are over, the separatist leadership should stop calling hartals and agitations. The post Friday prayer agitations always turn violent and scores get injured besides economic loses to the people living in those areas. Therefore the separatist leadership needs to stop calling for these protests and allow normality to return to Kashmir. Kashmiris are looking ahead to a good tourist season, let separatist not shatter their dreams by calling strikes and protests.

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