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, June 29, 2009

Changing Dynamics Requires Changing Attitudes

Nazir says Kashmiris need to change their political and social habits

(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.)

Guiding in the Right Direction

Neelofar and Asiya tragedy has started cascading from the newspaper headlines. It would eventually fade away in favor of other events that make news. We seem to be a people driven by incidents and not by a social agenda. Kashmiris seem to have given up on self confidence and on the need that it is time to change our political and social habits. The only thing that we have specialized post 1990 is to refuse to listen, accommodate, accredit and respect each other while holding a political opinion at variance to each other.

As a follow up to incident oriented politics, Kashmiri politics used the issue of the death of a generation, which is calculated at over 70,000, violation of human rights, rape, disappearances, sex scandals, Shrine Board land issue, elections and myriad other issues to justify their respective schools of politics. Militancy and politics of the manner of early 1990s has also rolled up its spread sheet.

People of Kashmir, at least those who have access to Newspapers may have woken up to read that a suicide attack has taken place for the first time since 1947 in Muzaffarabad Azad Kashmir, a place heavily supervised by the eyes of secret services, than any other habitat in Pakistan. Angels dare not escape the intelligence network here but the dedicated suicide bomber moved to its target in Shaukat Lines. Many others would have read the report of Community Drug Abuse Study Survey Kashmir by Valley’s renowned psychiatrist Dr. Mushtaq Margoob. According to this report Kashmir has 24.32 lakh drug abusers and Kashmir tops the world in the list of opium abusers.

A nation which has lost almost 100,000 in the last 19 years, has 24.32 lakh drug abusers, has lakhs of educated unemployable and more uneducated unemployable, thousand in prison and missing and has leadership split on the understanding of Rights Movement and on the question of allegiance, has scarcely a future to look for. There is a desperate need to change political and social habits.

At the top of all these scary details we are following a serious agenda to secure the Right of Self Determination for our people. Our Rights Movement has graduated through various stages in the last 132 years. Unfortunately the weaponry and the craft used in the last 19 years have killed the right of self determination as a realizable right for a long time to come. We have suffered a number deficit and the poise of this loss does not remain in our favor. Therefore, right of self determination shall have to be defended as a ‘principle’.

Our people and the social structure is more at fault than our leaders. It has now turned into a fashion to welcome international leaders for their reference on Kashmir. At home in Srinagar it has become a status symbol to receive officials of various foreign embassies based in Delhi. Kashmir in all inclusive is discussed in these meetings and news items bedeck the headlines the next day.

We fail to reconcile the incident or event oriented politics with the fact that Hurriyat had an ‘Awareness Bureau” in Delhi and it had the time and opportunity of working in close proximity with these foreign missions and the civil society of India. What happened? At best our leaders turned the Awareness Bureau into a rest room and at worse it became a gossip office, to negotiate personal interests in and outside Kashmir. It was packed lock, stock and barrel and all those involved in the Bureau are no more part of the present Hurriyat political discipline. They have been forced to reconnect with their previous vocations in Government or in private.

Over the years in the last 19 years civil society in Kashmir, in particular in the Valley has developed a behavioral pattern which encourages it to fake evidence to make believe that all is flawless. We know that all is not well in Hurriyat or Mainstream, except that the former is not under oath and accountable as the latter. We as a people have failed to induct accountability in Hurriyat and have failed to test the performance of Mainstream under the oath. The statement of former president Pervez Musharraf in his TV Interview to Dunya News is one more eye opener that Kashmiris have developed a second habit to fake things to create a make believe environment. According to him during his Agra visit he held talks with all stakeholders including the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference and the leadership of Azad Kashmir for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute “but no one could guide me in the right direction”.

It is time that we start examining the political and social character and habits in Kashmir. We may have made a serious mistake in allowing the Hurriyat play it all free and all alone with no holds barred. At the same time we may have erred in absolute in not using the Mainstream political agenda to empower the common man and woman and to change the process of life into a quality of life. We need to understand that the daily life in Kashmir is conducted in reference to the Mainstream political agenda. It is the duty of every conscientious and responsible Kashmiri to ensure that this character of politics remains accountable and in accordance with its oath. Mainstream political parties have made it clear that the Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved. So they have outsmarted the Hurriyat discipline of politics, at least in principle.

If we take the evidence provided by the Government of India and the leaders in Pakistan on the present political and social habitat in Kashmir as credible, Hurriyat has a serious threat to its existence. It does not seem to have worked out any convincing agenda and has been sucked into an incident driven political reflex. It is a dangerous option and Kashmir can’t afford to cause many more regular tragedies for Hurriyat to survive. We seem to have wasted 19 years and a generation without convincing India or Pakistan that we are a people with all the nobility and dignity associated with any people on earth.

There is an urgent need of a fresh rethink. It seems that Mainstream political discipline could deliver more on the question of self determination than Hurriyat. Mainstream political parties have a duty to ensure that the Government of India as another contracting party in the Instrument of Accession, on the basis that it is provisional, has to be put to a final vote and meanwhile Indian Government is responsible to protect ‘life’, ‘honor’ and ‘property’ in Jammu and Kashmir. This political discipline which is ridiculed as ‘pro India’, has an obligation under oath to keep watching that the Government of India keeps to its case and argument made at the UN under article 35 of the UN Charter.

The representatives elected by the people of Kashmir for State Assembly and to sit in the Indian Parliament remain under oath to “discharge faithfully and conscientiously the duty upon which they have entered”. One and the principal duty remain to ensure that the Government of India keeps to its statement made at the UN.
Kashmiris need to stop to reappraise their social and political behaviour. It may be that we are misleading into disowning the Mainstream School of politics. We should not waste our vote for electricity, water, road and a job. We should put the elected representatives through a higher burden of responsibilities. We are caught between a paid and accountable politics and a paid but unaccountable political culture. Two different results would follow from the two.

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