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, July 13, 2009

Charting a Shaky Course in Kashmir

Afshana records the moment when Kashmir lost its moral compass and the society began to reap what it had sowed

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

A Sad Tale

The shadowy killings continue. The sly onslaught on women persists. The strange disorder and disturbance is prolonging. The strife in Kashmir is taking worst shape.

With every passing day, things over here are getting shrouded in mysteries. A kind of sinister and spiteful atmosphere is engulfing Kashmir. Today, the furtively crafty nature of happenings makes Kashmir different from the years of conflict gone by. This wasn’t so in 1990’s as the conflict was extending its scope and reach, besides associated violence taking its silent toll. The killer and the killed were identifiable. The events were scary but not surreptitious.

What exactly has happened during these two decades? The dynamics of conflict, of course, have changed with the alteration in power equations at the subcontinent and international level. The players of this conflict are malformed entities now, struggling to stay stoutly alive among the array of nation-states.

Pakistan, the so-called moral supporter of Kashmir cause, is battling the survival game with colossal hands of violence hell-bent to knock down its pillars. India, the so-called emerging superpower, is hassled by the rising fanaticism out to break the cornerstone of its secular ideology of which Kashmir remains a formidable symbol.

The people of Kashmir, as a party to this conflict, are left out as a dejected lot whose material and moral has got impaired over these years. Perhaps the intense fallouts of conflict, deviously engineered by the opponent, have crippled them in every aspect. From political to socio-economic decisions, they have lost their say. It can be said that their opponent has smartly complicated the contours of conflict in a way which has succored in rendering them feeble and perplexed. Inevitably, their control over the situation got snatched gradually. As of now, they have been reduced to puppets, whose strings are pulled up by unknown and obscure forces.

All the same, it would be unfair to blame conflict for all the ailments the Kashmiris’ are afflicted with. Conflict can be partly blamed for shattering and spoiling the fabric of this society. However, the indigenous character of this land is equally responsible for making things come to such a passé. The strength of national character is expected to wrangle with the awful offshoots of conflict boldly. The opponent inescapably wrestles in whitewash, as such. But, it was not to be so. The collapse of the adversary did not take place; the trouncing of the national character but did.

The fact is that the thought system in Kashmir over the years has undergone a gross transformation. The kind of thought revolution, as envisaged in any form of resistance, couldn’t trigger here. Consequentially, the things and concepts which were unacceptable to the society some years back, have gained currency. The culture of permissiveness has purposely been nurtured.

There are unusual ripples around to comprehend. The growing criminalization and lumpenization has thrown up many uncomfortable questions. The warning bells have started ringing. If all that which is happening in Kashmir right now isn’t stopped, a strange wipe out will overtake the population. The tentacles of consumerism and hedonistic hang-ups have already snarled up our generation next. They have become the most vulnerable group.

And with Kashmir becoming a den of inscrutability and obscurity, akin to a horrific whodunit, the entire framework of this society is under an appalling threat. The ambience, in which Divine intervention takes place, has been absolutely destroyed. The godless milieu has left no scope for any such aid coming our way.

Mere sloganeering has duped us. And, in the long run as well, it won’t lead us anywhere at all. All the sections of society, especially political leaders and religious scholars, have not been able to inspire anyone. Most of them have turned self-indulgent and materialistic. The need of self-introspection; the stress on individual reform; and simple honesty in our dealings has been utterly negated.

The cost of resistance cannot be measured in dying ethos of any society. The call for freedom is okay until the moral health of any nation remains sound. Once the moral health deteriorates and starts stinking obnoxiously, there is a dire need to rethink and reorient the strategy of yelling out for ‘promising demand’. The insanity of sorts cannot hang on to any type of cherished freedom. On the contrary, it can lead to a catastrophe. The sooner we recognize it, the better.

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