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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"It is Impossible to Analyze DNA of a Kashmiri"

A Common man and a regular reader of GK seeks answers to a wasteland called Kashmiri politics


S D Shah

I am a regular reader of Greater Kashmir for the past of couple of years. Journalism in Kashmir is a very risky job and both print and electronic media have to walk on sword’s edge while reporting events. A healthy trend has started now where people of valley have started to speak out their minds. While going through mail addressed to editor of GK one comes across divergent views about events occurring in valley particularly about merits and demerits of Hartals and strikes.

This trend should get encouragement and we should be tolerant enough to give freedom of expression its due space. I am a common Kashmiri and no authority on political matters. I have my own viewpoint.

It was March 1990.There was a total chaos and government had no control. Every road and street was brimming with people of every age shouting freedom slogans and flashing ‘V’ signs. It was free for all and security forces were mowing down unarmed slogan shouting people with impunity and without any accountability. Freedom music sung by AJK singers resonated in every direction. In those days there was favorite programme on AJK radio station dedicated for the people of valley whose name I do not remember right now. There was one typical character “Amm Saeb’ in that particular programme. One evening while listening the programme the other character addressed Amm Saeb in Kashmiri with AJK accent and the loose translation sounds like this ‘ we will offer next Friday prayers at Hazratbal shrine, Inshaallah’. The atmosphere at that time was full of uncertainty and freedom sentiment was it its highest.

Two decades have gone by. A lot of water has flown in river Jhelum since then. Kashmiris have witnessed death and destruction at a mega scale. We have witnessed five parliamentary and three assembly elections since then. We have added many more lacs to our teaming population. A lot has changed in Kashmir and its surroundings. The whole world has witnessed massive changes since 1990. What was relevant at that time is a thing of past. Communism has disappeared and soviet union disintegrated. World has become uni-polar now and U.S.A is busy in establishing its hegemony. Few tiny Muslim dominated countries like Bosnia and Kosovo emerged in Europe after disintegration of Yoguslavia. At that time it were Russians dying in Afghanistan and the same country is now becoming graveyard for American and NATO soldiers. Pakistan is fighting a bitter war on its own soil for survival. U.S.A has invaded Iraq twice and now entangled in a bitter street warfare there. After 9/11 happenings the myth of America being invincible and economic powerhouse has been exposed.

Economic freedom is now outshining political freedom. Economic considerations are now driving force in creation of better relations among countries. Economic blocs are now more relevant now than defence ones. The economic meltdown of 2008 has shown that all that glitters is not gold. One could not believe his eyes watching on TV long queues of homeless people in front of community kitchens for free meals in USA. The huge joblessness even in developed countries has shown the fragility of capitalism. This has lead to depression among people, increase in crime and suicide rate.

This is just glimpse of what changes took place in the world in the past two decades and it will certainly have some effect on situation in Kashmir. In this time of cable TV and Internet it is hard for any government to conceal the facts. What we achieved in these twenty years is highly debatable. What we certainly got is ‘shaheed mazars’ in every nook and corner of valley and a bruised psyche. There will be hardly any person who has not suffered by gun. For the information of the generation born during this period we observed hartals and strikes for months together at a stretch. Full marks to Kashmiri as they have handled all shutdowns deftly and shrewdly. In even months of shutdowns they squeezed some days to provide opportunity for government employees to draw salary and store essential commodities.

The hartals and shutdowns will lead us no where because it affects small percentage of population particularly students and daily wage earners. For maximum number of people it provides reason enough to enjoy type of holiday. This has resulted making people lethargic and mentally sick. It is right of every citizen to resist any excesses and infringement of their human rights.

The agitation in June 2008 against the Amarnath Land Transfer was spontaneous reaction of people of valley as they perceived it to be conspiracy to change the demographic status of Kahmir. The government of that time buckled under public pressure and had to revoke the order. I still remember the brief press conference where President of Kashmir Bar Association Mian Qayoom who was heading co-ordination committee said in simple words ‘ we have won. Go and celebrate’ This showed people agitated under a particular set up and scored a victory against that particular establishment. Unfortunately this victory was short lived as the public anger was guided in another direction. The blockage of Srinagar-Jammu national highway by hindu fanatics added fuel to fire and was followed by chain of events resulting in the loss of precious seventy lives in prime of their youth. If that agitation would have been unconditional and complete opening line of control, I am confidant that I would not have been requiring passport to travel to other part of my home land. The economic integration with AJK will ultimately lead to political integration.

Recent horrific events in Shopian have again showed how attempts are being made to channelize the public anger in other direction like last years Amarmath Land Row agitation. Our focus should be not to rest till culprits are caught and handed down exemplary punishment. This is the demand of bereaved family and the residents of Shopian. It is the duty of every Kashmiri to show complete solidarity with the bereaved family and not forget like Tabinda Ghani and Romana cases. Why these double standards? Because killers of Romana were Kashmiris. At least leaders spearheading present agitation would just have appealed people to observe a social boycott of families of these goons.

My dear fellow Kashmiris freedom is not so cheap that it can be a achieved through efforts of few hundred stone pelters and shutdowns. If any outsider will visit Kashmir first time on a normal day when there is no hartal and seeing roads and markets teaming with people and vehicles, who can imagine what has happened all these years. A country fighting for independence should have bombed out buildings like Bosnia, vast swathes of refugee tents like Darfur Sudan and large chunk of population walking on crutches like Afghanistan. It looks like both present government and separatist camp are playing to gallery and there is someone checking their report card. On a normal day the winner is government and on a shutdown day it is the other group. Both sides are having ostrich like approach for situation prevailing in Kashmir. Both state and central government should realize that there is a perennial problem beyond bijli, sadak and paani. They should take immediate steps for its solution because what they perceive normalcy is superficial. The problem will manifest time and again and needs spark for ignition which agents of destruction are ready to provide.

It is the moral duty of separatist camp to unite and chalk out strategy for future course. They should put forth a road map before public for achieving the goal of freedom with its clear definition.They should realize that political freedom is meaningless without economic freedom. If they guarantee freedom then even a decade of protests and shutdown is worth it. They should take cue from recent history. The last years historic agitation where lacs took part had an anticlimax in shape of massive participation of people in assembly elections. Just before his death late Ghani Lone was asked a question in a press conference”. Lone sahib if you enjoy so much public support, why don’t take part in elections” The reply of Lone was terse ‘If I will field my servant against Farooq Abdullah, He will win with thumping majority’. And now see what drubbing his child got in recent assembly and parliament elections. While addressing mammoth gathering at Eid Gah last august our young Mirwaiz wearing shimmering and flowing white robe got so much carried away that he issued an ultimatum to leaders of mainstream parties either to join their movement or leave Kashmir and later events need not to discussed.

It is impossible to analyze DNA of a Kashmiri. He is highly unpredictable and no one has been able to decipher his original nature. It high time for Geelani Sahib, Mirwaiz Sahib and Malik Sahib to leave their differences and egos behind for sake of hapless Kashmiris to sit and chalk out a programme which will get us out of this nightmare. The whole Kashmiri nation has great faith in them at presnt. We all know that Hurriyat(G),Hurriyat(M) and JKLF are non-entities without these stalwarts. They sneeze we observe a shutdown. They should disassociate themselves from huge number of single person parties and prove themselves to be true well wishers of kashmiris. They should take every step with great caution because they know that it takes little time for Kashmiris to carry their leader on shoulders and to crush the same leader under feet.

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