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.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Turning "Shop Politics" into Serious Politics

Khayal offers some ideas to restore credibility to the "biggest shop" in Kashmir

(Mr. Ghulam Nabi Khayal, 70, was born in Srinagar. He received his schooling and college education in Srinagar, and completed his Masters degree in English. Mr. Khayal is considered a doyen among Kashmiiri journalists, having worked for both Indian and international newspapers like the Statesman, India Today, the Guardian, Voice of America, and others. He is also a topnotch Kashmiri writer having bagged numerous awards at local, national and international levels, including the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975. Mr. Khayal has published 24 books in Kashmiri, Urdu and English languages. He is the owner of a journal, Voice of Kashmir, published weekly from Srinagar.)

One-man show? Hurriyat must first try to put their house in order

It may not sound fair that the Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is targeted with severe criticism time and again. At the same time one has every right to ascertain as to what progress the APHC has made during the last 16 years to bring nearer a solution of the Kashmir problem. It has been not less that thousand times that Hurriyat leadership has made tall claims publicly that the settlement of the dispute was round the corner but all that has proved to be a hoax and these shallow statements and press releases are still pouring in to further confuse the suffering people of Kashmir.

The horrible result of this wavering attitude adopted by the Hurriyat has been that one of its most sensible, noble, non-controversial and matured members, Fazl Haque Qureshi, had to bear the brunt of some militants with an assassination bid made on him 04 December in old Srinagar.

Over the years, rather from day one, the Hurriyat has almost lost itself into a labyrinth of complicated and blurred paths and corridors created by its own top leadership which is now caught in a tightening snare of differences and its efforts for letting itself out of it are not in sight.

There are reports confirmed even by sources in the home ministry that at least three members of the Hurriyat executive committee met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh around midnight in Nehru Guest house in Srinagar when he was on a brief visit to Kashmir to flag off the train between Qazigund and Varmul recently. The secret meetings between Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Union home minister in a hotel in New Delhi, and also with the Prime Minister Singh, have also been taking rounds over here. Chidambaram’s repeatedly, and unnecessarily, talking about going on smoothly of secret talks is obviously bound to paint all the speculations in a colour of belief.

Emboldened by chief minister Omar Abdullah’s praising him, the Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has started speaking a threatening language that “anti-movement elements, who have been seeking favours and privileges in the name of Kashmir dispute, shall soon be put to justice before the people.”

This warning of Mirwaiz is reminiscent of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who in his thunderous voice warned corrupt forces in the government and political field while delivering his first speech in Lal Chowk, Srinagar, after becoming chief minister in February 1975 that “the day of reckoning has come for those of my predecessors and bureaucrats who looted the public exchequer with both hands turning it into a defamed state.” What happened afterwards is known to one and all.

In this context, it does not augur well for a seasoned Mirwaiz to wash the dirty linen in public particularly on money matters. The people know well how millions of rupees came from different official and unofficial sources to bring the secessionist politicians into the national mainstream or keep the pot of militancy boiling.

Since all of them are stained, they should rather pay their utmost attention to put their disorderly house in order. The assassination bid on Qureshi has sparked off yet another row with a disgusting war of words declared against each other by two factions of a non-functional amalgam headed by Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq respectively. Mirwaiz apparently held Geelani responsible for Qureshi episode with his provocative speeches adding fuel to the fire, to which Geelani responded saying that he never uttered a word which could foment trouble against his rivals.

The Hurriyat (M) has disbanded all its sub sections and asked his associates not to issue any statement on behalf of the Hurriyat till the task of a new and effective formation is accomplished. But, Shabbir Shah lost no time to reject the concept of quiet talks with New Delhi. Molvi Abbas is also singing to the same tune.

All this has really bound the Hurriyat chief in a tricky situation. Who now finds for himself “Na jaai Maandan, na paai raftan.” (No place to sit in, no feet to run away with). Meanwhile, Al-Nasireen, a hitherto unknown militant outfit, who has owned responsibility for attacking Qureshi, has warned pro-dialogue leaders to desist from quiet talks with New Delhi or else face the consequences. Calling the pro-dialogue Hurriyat politicians “veiled leaders,” the outfit cautioned that they should denounce their behind the scene truck with India. The outfit disclosed that earlier, they had advised Fazl Haq Qureshi not to indulge in such activities but he did not pay any attention to this suggestion. The outfit spokesman, Sameeul Haq said, “Qureshi was a facilitator of behind the scene parleys between New Delhi and some veiled persons.” He also said, “a delegation was sent to his home to convince him but he did not listen to us.”

There is a proposal that The Hurriyat changes its nomenclature from all party to Jammu & Kashmir Hurriyat Conference. Before this step is taken the Conference shall have to accommodate like minded representatives from Jammu.

Till date, The amalgam has never thought of including representatives in it from Kashmiri speaking areas of Jammu region including Doda, Bhadrwah, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch. Also, there is not a single Kashmiri Pandit in the Hurriyat and the representation of Kashmiri Sikhs is also not there right from the beginning. Some other political forces who believe that Kashmir is a political dispute are also missing. This makes the Hurriyat Conference into a small forum of some Muslim clerics, Imams, self styled politicians and so called leaders. With its groping in the dark in a small Valley, whose representative is the Hurriyat of today?

Most probably, it will not be done because of vested interests dominating the Conference. The division, deadlock, inactivity and stalemate in this forum, shall therefore continue to some fatal day when the disappointed and disgusted people shall publicly reject it and ask the so called leaders to leave them alone, go back to their respective homes and take a long rest. This day may not be far away from now.

The bid on the life of Qureshi shall, in one way or the other, tell upon the courage and strength of the Hurriyat to go ahead with the Indian government with its secret talks which are also bound to bring about no positive results under present circumstances when Pakistan is being sidelined which may not be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the people of Kashmir.

No comments: