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

Phrases Unfamiliar to Separatists - Can They Handle it?

Javed says that Hurriyat has to seriously work for the "socio-economic" and "psycho-educational" development of common Kashmiris

(Mr. Javid Ahmad Dar, 26, was born and raised in Srinagar. He received his Bachelor's degree from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar and secured first position (Gold Medalist)in Master's degree from the Political Science Department of the University of Kashmir. Mr. Dar passed the National Eligibility Test held by the University Grants Commission (UGC-NET) for lectureship position and started as a Guest Lecturer in the Department of Law, University of Kashmir, shifted for a short-term to the faculty of the Government Degree College, Baramulla, and presently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Post-Graduate Department of Political Science in the University of Kashmir. He is also enrolled in the M. Phil program.)

Challenges for Hurriyat

The Hurriyat Conference over the past few months has been under a scanner for its, what many call, apparent failure of missing the historic opportunity. It was not only for the first time that the Separatist leadership failed to capitalize the situation rather it has a history of ‘missing opportunities’. Hurriyat faces challenges within and without. Internally, democratization and decentralization are to be carried out; sooner the better.

It has to reach to every corner of Kashmir and make people aware of their rights. It has to appraise the young generation of the Career opportunities and sponsor the education of the poor students. It has to initiate programmes of financial assistance on wider and deeper scales. It has to seriously work for the socio-economic and psycho-educational development of the common Kashmiris. There are many things which people can wait for but certain things, if left unattended, make achievements all but meaningless. The victims of violence whether targeted by militants or by coercive machinery of the State cannot be left to die in the open. Government has made only a feeble attempt for a particular ‘class’, but both the classes of militants (whether state or private) and civilians do need help in different proportions. The more you ignore the problem, the more complex it becomes. This problem has given birth to many other problems of drug abuse, flesh trade, child labour etc. and, thus, grows an urgent need to arrest the root of this complex whole.

Many a people argue that the decision of breaking the Intifada of summer 2008 proved immature and ultimately brought the movement to such a place where from it had previously started; Nowhere. They strongly lament for missing ‘something’ which was to come out of the box; may be 1953 position, complete Aazadi or…. May be their estimation was correct in their own over-estimations. This position has brought even Syed Ali Shah Geelani into a position of defense when he shifts the responsibility to Co-ordination Committee. The problem lies in fixing a balance between the problems and the prospectus. Probably ‘people’ or some elements over-estimated their achievements (of making empty stomachs dance on the tunes of Azadi) and under-estimated the strength (of fiercely chasing even the best runners) of the other party—the State. A velvet hand was too optimist of crushing an iron-hand when the latter had not demonstrated what it is known for. How long would have an average man living a hand to mouth life fought against a mighty Institution putting his survival at both the levels of being a combatant (which otherwise he is not) and at domestic front at risk?

How long would have some “haves” donated in cash or kind or both for all “Have-Nots” of both rural as well as urban Kashmir? People were crying for food and some people whose food containers had been empty for several days because of Hartals and stringent curfews did not appreciate the means and methods adopted by the leadership. There were some people who donated food grains in the afternoon only to ask for the aid in the evening and, unsurprisingly, some asked for the help despite having enough of it in their stores because the cause was dear but dearer was the family. The families which were about to starve would have breached the “code of conduct” and parents would have felt proud in being blamed as “traitors” than to allow children die of hunger. The business class was biting the dust because it was they who inflated the atmosphere for which they had to (unwillingly) pay a heavy price later on.

Needless to mention that Kashmiris agitated in unison, during summer 2008 uprising. But not only masses even the leadership could neither understand the situation nor decide the future course of action or foresee the implications of it. A journalist friend told me that they (Journalists) were hunting for a man (perhaps credible) to give out a strike call and thought of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. When the call was positively responded (which he initially perhaps was not sure of) he spearheaded the movement till the other flock (of leaders) followed and Co-ordination Committee was formed where Hurriyat was in minority. None could peep beyond the obvious! Co-ordination Committee deemed itself it as a State within a State; a similar situation which had forced the thinking people to strike against. Capital has its own interest and it is in pursuit of it irrespective of anything and everything which an innocent sentiment never comes to know of. No one can rule out the role of the capital but its role is to be determined, failure of which results in its dominance and subjugation of the cause for which it was called in.

Hurriyat should welcome every quarter but before handing over the reins to such elements it must look beyond the surface. It hurriedly embraced even such elements which had accidentally landed at its platform. They had their own agenda other than Hurriyat’s to work on. Hurriyat’s intentions of making it ‘inclusive’ have merits but inclusion of disgruntled elements is pregnant with serious ill-consequences. “Pretentious friends are more dangerous than known enemies”, advise wise. The way you never make them to wait to come in and handover the peoples’ aspirations whose representatives you claim to be, in the same fashion they are always ready to hijack your cause and peoples’ sentiments which none could easily make out from their words. Hurriyat must, first of all, strike against it. It is quite easy to call anyone in PDP or even NC to join the Separatist camp but taking a flood into the fold needs a proper assessment of the possible ingredients or threats of the muddy water that you wish to mix with, what you call, holy blood of devotees. Past mistakes cannot be undone today but, in any case, they should not be repeated.

One of the biggest outside challenges that Hurriyat faces is PDP, which is regarded as a ‘soft-separatist’ group by some quarters within India. It has emerged as a state party with reasonable strength, on the one hand, and tries to be an alternative voice of the alienated lot, on the other. Over the past few years, PDP has been using or abusing the stands of Hurriyat Conference—be it Self-Rule, Demilitarization or Revocation of Draconian Laws like AFSPA or People to People contact in which they made a progress by opening few traditional routes along the LoC. At one point of time, it talked about a separate currency for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. So far as its solution in shape of Self-rule is concerned, its content could be different than that of Self-rule which Hurriyat Conference talked about, at least during Musharaf period. Demilitarization is to be defined—does it mean sending military back to barracks which PDP demands (Pre-1989 Position) or 1949 Position or complete vacation as was proposed by Mc. Naughton Plan or reduction in troops’ level as suggested by Graham’s Mission. Usage of same term for different demands does not make the different organizations similar. Hurriyat has not only to expose the PDP agenda but also to precisely define its own demands and the terms it associates with such demands.

It has to be fully equipped with the contemporary currents of conflict resolution mechanisms and the history as it operates today. The political demands have to have contemporary relevance. Past cannot be negated in any case but the present cannot be dumped down for the sake of past rather it is to be used to make a better future. Certain slogans can be postponed for a time being until a mature time comes but, at present, priorities need to be thoughtfully fixed and pursued in such a manner which costs the least.

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