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.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Empty Words, Empty Slogans

Nadeem contemplates on the fall of leadership from grace, but many others would argue that happened decades back

(Mr. Nadeem Jahangir Bhat, 27, was born in Rakhi-Lajurah village in Pulwama district. He received his early education in a local private school and graduated from the Government Degree College in Pulwama. He completed his post graduate degree in the English Language and Literature from the University of Kashmir. Mr. Bhat is currently Research Scholar in the Department of English, University of Kashmir, pursuing his M.Phil degree on writings of Salman Rushdie and Post-Colonial Historiography. He also works at the Government Degree College in Pulwama as a Teaching Assistant. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading and writing poetry. He also occasionally writes for the Rising Kashmir newspaper.)

Being optimistic about every act is self deception

It is good to be optimistic. However, to be too optimistic about everything one does is an abnormality. Unfortunately, we Kashmiris, suffer from this abnormality which leads to anOptimism Fever. This abnormality is quite evident and clearly reflected in our deeds. Be it marching for 'Azadi' or casting votes, we are always too much optimistic about everything we do. In the August of last year, incited by Amarnath land row, our optimism reached its zenith.

The economic blockade invoked the imagination of Azadi and the sentiment for Azadi attained new heights. We cried for Azadi and it seemed a couple of Chalos away from us. We marched towards every 'called for' destination as a tour de force to tell India "Hum kya chahtay- Aazadi". We marched towards Muzafarabad, Pampore, UN office and Eidgah shouting slogans, crossing blockades and barbed wires, pelting stones and even braving bullets. We thronged these destinations in lacks and our optimism made us dance on the tunes of "Ragda Ragda Bharat Ragda" sending chills down Indian spines. We got ourselves killed but where optimistic that Azadi cannot elude us anymore and the Chalos will reap us the laurel of victory. Thanks to our optimism, however, the story does not end here. Everybody knows what happened afterwards. When it was time to vote we voted with a lot of faith and optimism to see a government 'elected' which could meet our demands of 'development'. Again, our optimism made us say "Azadi apni jagah, bijli, pani aur sadak be to chahiay". This is the extent of our optimism.

That was a page from the book of memories. Now it is more than hundred days since our government, the guarantors of our development, took over and all the development is evident. The Bomai youth, Javaid and Gulzar, got their share of development at the hands of the so called "security forces" and so did the Khaigam carpenter. A crippled beggar had his own share at the very alter of the guarantor himself. Public Safety Act continues to haunt the separatists as well as the stone palters (although in the other province of the state they were given refreshments and were paid for it). The sixth pay commission recommendations will take time but not the pay hike of some chosen few for continues doing great job for the government. Good instances of 'development'. Applause to our government. People were killed and inquiries ordered; the obvious made painfully obscure; reports submitted and 'justice' was done. Killer troops were dislocated from Bomai and re-located at Agricultural university campus, which means, another Bomai-like episode is in the making, as some other day another Javaid and Gulzar will have their share of 'development'. The albatross round your neck next time.

Nevertheless, we celebrated it and not just that but a stark reality, which stares us in the face, is that we continue to do so without realizing what we are doing. Now it is time for another election and our optimistic masses have once again started pinning hopes on their new supposed guarantors of development. Let us hope history repeats itself less cruelly this time.

That was about people, common people, who even do not take recourse to good common sense before deciding or doing anything. However, what happened to our leaders? If people suffer from optimism fever what is wrong with the leaders. Why do they get carried away by the force of situation? The indecision, exhibited by Hurriyat (M) reflects the state of the mind of our leaders. We were yet to recover from the high turnout shock of the 'highly optimistic' masses that the leaders shocked us further.

First, the Lone shock to contest elections and then Hurriyat M's turning soft towards elections in the beginning. Well, some can cry loudly that it is 'a change of strategy and not of ideology', but the truth is that it is a change of heart, a heart that no longer feels the giant agony of those who have sacrificed their dear ones for the sacred cause. It is a change of faith, from God's servitude to demon worship. Sniffing a little power and pelf, these sham leaders have cast away a faith so cherished and a cause so dear, for which thousands have laid their lives down. First-rate opportunism on display. Contesting elections in ordinary circumstances is not bad but here it is a sin for reposing faith and allegiance in Indian constitution; it would be betraying the blood of thousands of martyrs. India is a suppressor state and contesting for a seat in the Indian Parliament amounts to being a part of this source of suppression. Calling elections a 'non-issue' is again sheer hypocrisy. By saying so, they have put a question mark on their credibility, their goodwill and sincerity towards the sacred cause. In fact, they have lost their claim to be called pro-freedom. In French, they say "corruptio optimi pessima", that is, the corruption of the best becomes the worst. No doubt, these brazenfaced leaders will indulge in such political gymnastics impudently, but it might really be a perplexing situation for all those non-Kashmiris who have stood by us and advocated our cause so far. By such acts of our leadership, a wrong signal has been sent to the outside world. This is what happens 'when majesty stoops to folly'.

In my opinion, if common people fail they can be absolved, but not the leaders. Leaders are the representatives of a nation and the face of a movement. If they fail, they let the whole nation down and deface the whole movement. However, one thing, that we should never lose sight of, is that leaders are no 'sacred' things. They are leaders only when people follow them. They are for the cause and not above the cause. They are nothing in themselves but products of our need and if they outlive their use, they should be abandoned. Therefore, it is time these leaders introspect into themselves and let people also think fresh about them.

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