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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"If you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate"

Sajjad asks Huriyat to practice what they preach, and board the bus for peace, prosperity and welfare of the people

(Mr. Sajjad Bazaz, 45, was born in Srinagar. He attended the Khalsa high school and the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar. He received his bachelor's degree in Media and his master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Kashmir. Mr. Bazaz has over two decades of experience in journalism (both print & electronic), and he is author of the book "Bankwatch" which is about a financial scenario with particular reference to the J&K state. He is currently incharge of corporate communications department in a leaduing financial instution in J&K. Mr. Bazaz likes to spend leisure time watching movies and enjoying company of his friends.)

Talk Tactics

A fresh spell of initiatives to unlock Indo-Pak talk-tactics has yet again been set in motion. Talk-tactics adopted by India and Pakistan is as old as Kashmir problem. Though they have held countless rounds of talks to settle their issues, particularly the Kashmir imbroglio, the solution to these issues was never in sight and still nowhere visible. Most of the talks have temporarily defused tension only to complicate the issues and prolong their settlement. The Indo-Pak talk-tactics contains a element of ‘deadlock’ which is observed on one pretext or the other.
Last week Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani yet again infused fresh lease of life into the talk-strategy when he pushed for resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue and urged India not to hold dialogue "hostage to one incident" of 26/11. Not only this, he dished out that Pakistan is itself facing Mumbai-like attacks almost every other day and “when we cannot protect our own citizens, how can we guarantee that there wouldn’t be any more terrorist hits in India.” He has emphasized that the relations between India and Pakistan should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists which (are) the common enemy. For lasting peace in the region, he has said, both countries should resolve the core issues, including Kashmir and water dispute. But India responded with "measured contact" proposal instead of a composite dialogue on the pretext of atmosphere not conducive.

Some two decades back, the Indo-Pak talks used to generate enthusiasm among the people here, as every time it was presumed that something substantial towards resolution of Kashmir dispute would emanate. Over a period of time, the people observed that the talks were a futile exercise and today this talk-tactics has lost its relevance here at least vis-à-vis Kashmir dispute. So what we have seen that India-Pakistan relationship is most brittle in nature and are often being broken with the change in political temperature. In other words, it is a trend constituting one of the features of their talk-tactics.

Since talks between India and Pakistan have proved meaningless, the pressure mounts on the separatist cadres, particularly the separatist conglomerate – APHC. Today, it is a matter of co-existence, tolerance and acceptance. Pakistan’s support to separatist movement is not hidden. But, of late, the internal disturbances within the Pakistan have derailed their strong focus on Kashmir. The statement of its prime minister Y R Gilani that they cannot protect their citizens speaks the kind of instability in Pakistan.

Besides, sidelining the dream of realizing the total independence of the state from the union of India by some of the strong separatist cadres and portraying unification of both the parts of the J&K state as a solution to the vexed Kashmir problem, is not matching the Pakistan’s Kashmir strategy. Recent statements by some top mainstream leaders vouching unification of this part of Kashmir and the Pak Administered Kashmir, is of course a step towards defeating Pakistan interests in Kashmir. This is also one of the factors forcing Pakistan to keep Kashmir pending, because Pakistan cannot afford to lose control of Azad Kashmir.

Notably, Peoples Democratic Party too has advocated that the Kashmir issue can be resolved through joint projects across the border and even advocated for filling up of the vacant seats in the legislature with representatives from the Pak Administered Kashmir. This is a step towards a full fledged struggle for unification of divided parts of Kashmir, where the main players of the game would be mainstream politicians. They want that the vacant seats in the JK assembly be filled with representatives from PaK to make it a joint house. And by all standards this is not an ordinary statement in the context of the nature of Kashmir dispute.

It is also notable that Former foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra's working group on strengthening cross-Line of Control relations, has laid out new possibilities for cooperation between the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir. It has suggested that "a joint consultative group or committee of 10 members each of the legislatures of both sides may be constituted to exchange views periodically on social, economic, cultural and trade-related matters of mutual interest." In addition, "joint consultative groups of professionals may be set up for horticulture, tourism promotion and environment protection."

In May 2008, the separatist conglomerate assembled at a seminar and talked about realism and a strategy to carry forward the ‘struggle’. Before they face the wrath of masses, it is high time for them to evolve a definite strategy not a tactics and work on the lines where the ground situation is taken into account. They should not aspire for things, which are impractical. Now is the time for them to carry forward their goal of ‘realism’.

If the separatist conglomerate discourages this, even inadvertently, it will only distance itself from the people for whom they claim to be fighting a ‘freedom war’. So, one would expect them to do so with wisdom and farsightedness. The separatist conglomerate should discourage talk-tactics, instead they should board the bus for the peace, prosperity and welfare of the people. If they miss it, they shall be exposing the state subjects to further dangers. Here I am reminded one of the honest and frank assertion of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq during a conference in Srinagar that ‘you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate’ should be basis of a renewed approach in modern times.

Meanwhile, the Omar Abdullah led coalition government is yet to respond to the formidable challenge of providing a new culture of governance where resolution of the conflict is given priority. Even as the young chief minister talks about resolution of Kashmir dispute, nothing substantial has been done so far to end the environment of turmoil in Kashmir. Release of political prisoners, proper and just rehabilitation of all the victimized persons, revoking of special powers to armed forces, and demilitarization are some of the issues which need attention.

Since the Indo-Pak talk-tactics stand exposed, any future talks are bound to meet the same fate of deadlock. Because every round of talks have been followed by a violent incident causing loss of innocent human lives and property. Even Omar Abdullah’s frank assertion that ‘initially talks might also fail but we should not be disheartened and should carry on the dialogue’ is enough to understand the fate of future talks, if held.

Now cosmetic measures like talk-tactics won’t help. Both mainstream and separatist cadres have to understand that they are caught between deep and devil sea. They should not keep the peace, prosperity and welfare of the people of the state hostage to the Indo-Pak talk-tactics.

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