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, October 15, 2009

How Much do Indians and Pakistanis Care for Kashmir?

Nazir has seen meetings on Kashmir come and go, but there is a marked trend towards growing number of non-Kashmiris in such parlays

(Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, 59, is a jurist. He was born in Naranthal (Jalshree) village near Baramulla and was a student at the Government Degree College in Baramulla. Subsequently, he studied English Literature and Politics at the University of Kashmir, Law at the Sindh Muslim Law College in the Karachi-Pakistan, Islamic Law at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), International Law at the Queen Mary University London, Victimology at Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik - former Yugoslavia, Peace Keeping/Humanitarian Operations & Election Monitoring from Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento S. Anna - Pisa Italy, and has a Ph.D. in the Jurisprudence of UN Resolutions and Kashmir Case. He successfully argued a constitutional writ petition in the High Court of Azad Kashmir from December 1992 to April 1999 on the question of self determination and duties of AJK Government. As a lead human rights advocate he has faced a sentence of 5 years imprisonment and 15 lashes and a death sentence during the Martial Law of General Zia in Pakistan. Dr. Gilani has introduced awareness around the title of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to a Rights Movement since 1877 and the respective sovereign claims of India and Pakistan since 1948.)

Intra Kashmir Dialogue: It is a good pastime engagement

Three-day intra-Kashmir conference organized by Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) in Srinagar is a commendable civil society effort. It will increment the constituency of freely expressed opinions and resource the instrument of dialogue. However, it is discomforting to see that a culture of ‘secondary victimization’ of the people of Kashmir has started to expand.

Retired military officers and bureaucrats have found Kashmir as an easy pastime engagement. During the currency of their active service they fight tooth and nail their turf and discourage every effort made for ‘peace’ and ‘dialogue’. They ink policies and laws to violate human rights and subscribe to torture. Just at the close of their youthful and authoritative tenures of active service, the warriors and cynics turn to Kashmir for peace and dialogue.

Before one accredits and examines the merits of the Intra Kashmir Dialogue one has to reconcile the conflict in two statements one made by Mirwaiz Omar on Friday at Jamia Masjid that “The appointment of special envoy on Kashmir by OIC is diplomatic victory for the resistance movement. The 56 member countries of OIC have unanimously supported the right to self determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir” against the other statement made on Friday at the opening session of Intra Kashmir Dialogue by former foreign secretary of Pakistan Himayun Khan that “Kashmiris from both sides of LoC were neither heard nor listened by their respective governments. The two governments have also not brought the element of settlement into public.”

If Khan is to be believed that “Kashmiris were neither heard nor listened”, then Mirwaiz has no good news for us. The appointment of an OIC envoy on Kashmir does not make an iota of difference if it is to end up in the same manner in which our politics and militancy has ended up by causing a huge number deficit in the numericals required for a successful conclusion of self determination. More so we have failed to take the process of life of common people ahead towards achieving a quality of life in Kashmir.

Institutions like Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) should not allow themselves as temporary life boats to the retired or discreetly sponsored compositions for these events. A casual look at the participants from Pakistani side of Kashmir does not have a serious merit to take any pride or consolation. There is no doubt that some of them are State Subjects and have a right to travel to the other part of Kashmir and enter into a free dialogue with other State Subjects there. We need to encourage more and more intra Kashmir dialogue. We need to discourage efforts of waste and secondary victimization of the people, whose life and habitat has badly suffered since 1948 and more so after 1990.

The non issuance of visa to Ershad Mehmood and the non participation of chief of Liberation League retired chief justice Abdul Majeed Malik are unfortunate. If Ershad Mehmood as a State Subject and noted peace activist was no threat to the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 2001 and at three other intra Kashmir forums, he should have not been treated as a security threat this time. He continues to remain a State Subject. Justice Majeed Malik is a sober balance for any such dialogue. As a close associate of late K H Khurshid he enjoys the confidence and trust of over 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees living in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.

The principal flaw in the representation remains that there is a deliberate effort from both sides of LOC to discourage the credible refugee representation at these forums. It may be because these voices are too loud and overbearing and do not adjust with the political culture being sponsored since 1990. There has been a coordinated effort to erode the impact of Kashmiri refugee leadership since 1948. K H Khurshid although a trusted confidant of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, yet was deposed, arrested and humiliated. He was always labelled as a ‘suspect’. The 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees have failed to resurrect their representative ability in politics in Azad Kashmir and their representation in the AJK assembly has no substantive character or influence. They are numbers and nouns.

One wonders as to why Kashmiris do not have the love and affection for their cause. If they had they would have advised the sponsors of the fourth intra Kashmir Dialogue to balance their ‘sarkari’ list with an equal number of genuine contributors. Names like justice Sharif Hussain Bukhari, retired col. Dr. Ali Mohammad Mir, M. Y. Shah, G. M. Mir, Dr. A. Basit, justice Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Sharif Tariq, Khalid Ibrahim and many others spread all over Azad Kashmir and Pakistan in various disciplines should have been involved to advance the constituency of wisdom on the subject. A non participation of Kashmiri Diaspora would make such efforts far less meaningful. It seems that the post 1990 political culture is so badly tainted that it has lost courage, confidence and conscience.

One should thank former foreign secretary of Pakistan Himayun Khan for agitating in the interests of the people of Kashmir. However, such an interest during the days of authority in Pakistan would have helped us a lot. It is too late and self serving. Even now he could have advised the CDR to make the list genuine and justifiable. As regards Mirwaiz the appearances at the OIC contact group or at other meetings is no more than a routine. Everything is stale and scripted and does not have any relevance to peoples cause.

So far as the bureaucrats of Pakistan are concerned, the post retirement or even the interest during their active service is not reliable. I remember when I finished my lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad in early 1990s a Pakistani diplomat (senior ambassador) came to me and said “Gilani Sahib don’t overdo on Kashmir. I (he) was with Japanese ambassador last night. He said the talk of Kashmir is making us sick”. I was shocked at his comments and so where others around us.

In the same manner when I was a member of an 11 member delegation nominated by President Asif Ali Zardari (incidentally named first in the list) to receive Tipperary International Peace Award which was conferred posthumously on Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in a ceremony in Tipperary, Ireland on Friday April 25, 2008 a lead member in the delegation, who is now an ambassador told me at the breakfast table, “Gilani Sahib why don’t you Kashmiris call it off and settle down by accepting the LOC”. If Benazir had been alive, I may have succeeded to block his desire to become the ambassador a second time. Our tragedy is just helping non Kashmiris to remain relevant and Lawrence seems to be correct about Kashmiri character in many ways.

It does not mean that retired Indian military officers and bureaucrats who have turned to peace in Kashmir would be different in any manner. Intra Kashmir Dialogue for all of them is a good pastime engagement.

No comments: