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 4, 2009

Shining Light in a Valley of Smoke and Mirrors

Finally an Editorial in the Rising Kashmir with a bit of common sense and a whole lot of truth!

Hartal won’t do

APHC’s strike calls are never turned down, now is the time to review the old tool of resistance

Chairman of one of the factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani has extended the ongoing strike for two more days. The announcement came at the height of expectations that normal life would resume from Thursday, though the popular concern for the heinous crime committed in Shopian remains firm. In the current phase of Kashmir struggle that started off in 1989, Kashmiris have always been responding to the calls for strikes and shutdowns. There has been a hectic debate within newspaper columns and between academicians around the question whether Hartal as a tool of resistance is any longer relevant.

There are views and counterviews. Dominant view pegs on the argument that shutting down of businesses and other routines practices does not inflict as much a cost on the state government as it does inflict on the common masses. Hartal, as has been highlighted in these lines earlier, used to be a communist mode of resistance against the wealthy factory owners. General strikes, back then, would halt the production thus causing massive loss to the factory owner. This goes without saying who is at loss when a Hartal is observed in Kashmir. Of course not the bureaucrats or wealthy businessmen, but the common masses. Both the factions of Hurriyat Conference and the forces outside its ambit should give a serious thought to this view. To say that is not to object to the cause APHC is espousing. But it is a genuine popular reaction to a mode of resistance that is harming the public interest rather than the interest of the state.

Take for example the recurrent strikes during summer. It is common knowledge that Kashmir, owing to inclement weather conditions and poor access to outside markets, remains landlocked for more than six months. The summer is always seen as promise of earning for a variety of sectors including tourism.

Then there is education sector. This is the only season when Schools and Colleges and University campuses function. True, the Hurriyat Conference leaders are being debarred from all other democratic means, but that does not require to be handled through an action that harms public interest. APHC’s calls are rarely refused. People honor their calls and halt their businesses to show solidarity with the cause APHC shares with them. But, if the Hartal becomes a norm, as it has now, this support-base should not be expected to remain intact.

Hurriyat leadership would do well by reviewing its strategy of expression. It’s being heard on variety of media; TV, Radio and newspapers. People show solidarity when there is an occasion. The leadership will have to rethink on whether it needs Hartal in its primitive communist model, or it should modify this tool of resistance and synchronize it with the current needs and challenges.

The simple conclusion is this: Hartal won’t do!

No comments: