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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Civility of Engagement

Mehmood brings a fresh perspective on an old topic

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, 36, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He has been active in journalism for over ten years, and currently works at the Greater Kashmir, having worked in the past at the Rising Kashmir as the Features Editor. The columnist is presently the GK Magazine Editor.)

Good India, Bad India

Past week went with Eid preparations followed by two days off. So it was relatively a newsless time making it a bit difficult writing a column. Nevertheless there are some permanent themes in Kashmir that keep popping up every now and then. In fact they are always present and only become more present at times. One such theme is how to deal with India; be ‘pragmatic’ and make merry, act intelligently and get some concessions, go about recklessly and keep dying; or else be wise and honest and save both purpose and people. Till now we have seen all the responses except the last one. One reason for not coming across an honest and wise response may be our suspicion whether any such thing exists at all in the realm of political possibilities of Kashmir. Even it is felt that it simply makes a play of words, actually meant to make things easier for India to establish control over daily matters of Kashmir. The performance of Unionist parties, old and new, and the outcome of all the attempts made by Resistance groups and persons, bolsters this impression. This probably is the reason that any opinion that stations itself away from extremes stand almost summarily rejected. On the one hand there are parties like National Conference or PDP that avowedly want India to rule Kashmir; in fact they compete in facilitating things for her. It is in this competition to win Delhi over to their side that they occasionally take recourse to a Kashmir-centric diatribe. Where it ultimately matters some Ali Muhammad Sagar stands up in the Assembly and tries to explain the inability of India to revoke AFSPA; or some Muzaffar Beig stealthy makes inroads for things to pour into Kashmir from Delhi. A detailed study of the decisions taken in the Assembly can make horrendous exposures in this regard.

The other extreme is completely taken over by Geelani-politics. It means an endless pelting of stones, unceasing calls for hartals and recurrent appeals for protests. Although it will be a gross injustice to deconstruct this extreme to just protest politics but a common perception is building up in the masses that it doesn’t go beyond this and is fast losing its impact. Is it so, or is it other way round; it needs a dispassionate and patient exploration.

Meanwhile what feeds both the extremes are some crusted impressions about India and a reluctance to accept that things might have changed in India or a change can be worked out, or at least contributions can be made to a change, that can open up multiple channels of engagement with India. If both the extremes and the different variants of moderates, whatever they are, can explore and later exploit those channels, it can ultimately work to the advantage of Kashmir. The results may not be immediate and immense, nonetheless it can dimly work for the brighter moments. It should not be mistaken for all those state initiated and state perpetuated groups that were sneaked into the deeper recesses of Resistance to create a niche for India when she was struggling to get a foothold in Kashmir. The likes of Nayyar and Tarkunde in early 90s did more damage than all the killer forces that later emanated from the counter insurgency grid. Honesty and wisdom must steer clear of all those wave breakers.

First thing that is in need of serious debate is the possibility of making things travel from Kashmir to India. Small beginnings can be made. Academic institutions, media organizations, personal contacts, legal leverages, even political alliances can be thought of. No wonder if the level of intellect, amount of information, expanse of independent contact matches the required levels, Delhi can find herself stuck on more than one point. The entry to Kashmir may compulsively become decent, if not willingly just. The heinous crimes committed by the Indian machine in Kashmir can be taken up one by one and dealt with separately. After all India cannot afford doing all the bad things at one place all the time. There was a time when Gujrat, as a state, engineered the carnage of Muslims, but the inherent tendency of Indian party politics to work occasionally to the advantage of oppressed started doing its job. We may be genuinely disbelieving about the proceedings that end up in bringing justice to some of the victims, as it can be a case of one party trying to curtail the impact of other, but it has to be accepted that the apparatus of law and administration, backed by the stimulation from media, has the power to act against the perpetrator. Just recently we came across the Ishrat fake encounter case in Gujrat. The blood that had dried as terrorist appeared fresh as innocent; high ranking officers and the entire government of the day are in the dock. May be not justice, but an inherent expression of law is zeroing in on them. There is a good likelihood that noose might tighten around the necks of perpetrators. Earlier we saw it happen in Punjab. By taking an initiative that covers wisdom, sagacity and astute handling of things (all such things fall into generalities ad are in need of explaining) there is a likelihood that a break is applied to the extreme exploitation of our social and natural capital.

But all this hinges on a change of mind. A change about how to view at India; state as well as people. It is not beside the point if we talk of a change that settled in Muslim world about the West. For some time Muslim world considered West as a monolith and the responses were engineered the same way. Later the realization dawned that the monolith-construct doesn’t work and responses started travelling along multiple lines. Although the relations between the two are largely antagonistic, and the happenings in Iraq and Afghanistan regularly feed that hostile relation, but it stands accepted that West is not all about what it is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It acts as a check on the proliferation of animosity and hence a deterrent in letting only one kind of mind decide the matters fully on either side. If we get ready for a change in case of India, things have a potential to work for us. We can discover a good India and seek its support in fighting the bad India. But if we persist in the rejection of revisiting things we can only grow in loss and perpetuate in self infliction.

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