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 30, 2010

Kashmir at Crossroads - 3

Mirza Ashraf feels that for the situation to cool off, we need to look beyond the stated positions. But will partisan politics deliver?

(Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg, 70, was born in Sarnal, Anantnag. He did his primary schooling at the Primary Hanfia School in Anantnag and completed his F. Sc. from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. He completed his medical degree (MBBS) from the Government Medical College Srinagar, University of Kashmir, in 1967, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pathology from the Government Medical College Jammu, University of Jammu, in 1981. He served as the Medical Director of the Civil Hospital, Pahalgam, until 1983 and subsequently held senior administrative positions in the health service system of Saudi Arabia, including participation in a joint program with the Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Florida for a United Nations project related to environmental and ecological impact of the 1991 Gulf War. He is an Executive Member of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross (nominated by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir), Member of General Medical Council, Jammu and Kashmir, Medical Council of India, Saudi Medical Council, and General Medical Council, London. He is proficient in Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English, Arabic.)

Kashmir-The Dangerous Dimensions

Despite being a medico I was destined to observe the multiple dimensions of Kashmir problem from my childhood and I grew up under the shadows of, ‘Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi.’

To understand the dimensions of Kashmir problem we need to have a bird's eye view of the political history of J&K state retrospectively. A spectrum of intruders like Sikhs,Pathans, Mughals and Dogras ruled the state prior to the present so called democratic administration. Since the first four rulers were alien hence Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi was a natural outburst of the inner feelings of subjugated people of the Himalyan state. If we dig a bit deeper and trace the history of freedom struggle in the state we can see hardly a few dozens have been martyred from the Sikh rule to Dogra period while as our period of democracy has filled innumerable graveyards besides thousands are missing. What a legacy of democracy and what a glamour of being a free nation!

Before addressing the Kashmir issue we need to understand different aspects of the problem and try to find out as to why we are locked up in this parable. Our present tragedies date back to the painful partition of India in 1947. UN resolutions, Commitments from Indo-Pak leaders besides our innocence and ignorance played its role in making the Kashmir issue complicated with the passage of time. Many times we were sold and resold and the sale deeds will never come to surface. Some sold us for monitory gains from across the cease fire line while as others bargained with clandestine forces beyond Lakhinpore. Despite that ‘Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi' reverberates with full force even today and seems to continue till a lasting solution—a solution that satisfies the majority of the people of J&K is thought off.

An unprejudiced mind can easily find that the most important outcome of the ongoing turmoil is that both mainstream as well as pro-freedom political organisations working in the state have realised that Kashmir issue needs a logical solution. The same feelings are expressed by a common Kashmiri weather he is a migrant or the one who has suffered getting caught between the guns trying to protect his identity.

Having said that we need to analyse how our political organisations are looking at Kashmir issue and how they would like to take it to a logical end. There is no doubt every one realises that the state needs developments. The present uncertainty where our working days are squeezed by Hartals, government curfews and civil curfews is eating on the marrows of the common man-- thus developments remain a distant dream. Apparently people in power have always looked on these issues through their narrow prism and have always expected to silence the pent-up emotions of the masses by applying a brute force. History has proved them wrong and my argument is supported by the recent painful developments in Srinagar, Sopore,Islamabad, Varmul and Kishtawar where school going children and cricket kids were gunned down dragging them out of their homes apparently for their love for the ‘game’. Government has always come up with its usual solution of setting up an enquiry commission. As if people have any faith in these commissions?

Coming back to our topic, ‘The dangerous dimensions of Kashmir issue,’ Long ago National Conference the major political organisation that has its roots in the freedom struggle of the state argued in favour of Kashmir accord and the accord is documented. One wonders as to why it is getting shy to implement the accord as a confidence building measure on way to an acceptable logical future disposal of the long pending Kashmir problem. The organisation was let down by a no confidence motion against its government shortly after it regained power in 1974. There after this historical political force continued to remain duped and bewildered about its role as a peoples movement and fell in a whirlpool for a chase to seek power at any cost.

Despite the fact the functionaries of the state branch of Indian National Congress too ask for a political solution to the Kashmir problem it seems that such utterances in view of the fact that their parent organisation in New Delhi considers Kashmir issue a closed chapter are just a glib talk to hoodwink the gullible. Similarly its sibling the PDP too is asking for a permanent solution to the miseries of the state. Ironically at times it sees the solution in dilution of AFSPA and at times in the return of the armed forces to the barracks. Unfortunately it forgets to realize armed forces were in the barracks till 1989 when there was no AFSPA. All these draconian laws came in to force with armed forces out of the barracks because we had not recognised the dangerous dimensions of Kashmir problem.

The turmoil or the armed rebellion of 1989 gave birth to a conglomerate of a new leadership in J&K that assumed the nomenclature of Hurriyat Conference and people pinned all hopes on this god sent messiah.

Unfortunately with the passage of time the organsation broke in to its original fragments thus losing its glamour,force and purpose. Since the organisation was born out of the barrel of the gun it could not sustain itself when peace started to return. Hence it could not harvest the benefits of the armed rebellion giving a chance to New Delhi to harp the tune that they played after Kashmir accord with Shiekh Sahib such as, ‘the clock can not move anticlockwise thus retreating from sky is the limit.’

Having said that during these twenty years of turmoil in the state India and Pakistan both have become nuclear powers adding disastrous dimensions to Kashmir issue. It is a historical fact that Kargil war would have kindled the nuclear flash point—and yes we can’t bank always on US for intervention. Besides that we have also witnessed that all sorts of political arrangements were repeatedly tried that failed miserably. National conference government was replaced by a couple of tenures of governor's rule and then a combination of PDP and Congress that succumbed to the mishandling of Amarnath and Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi was its natural out come on the road to Muzafarabad. Elections resulted in a unique NC-Congress combination that seems awaiting for another turmoil. In the mean time may it be a ‘Mona Lisa’ episode in Anantnag or a bureaucratic ‘sex scandal’ in Srinagar the anger gets vent through Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi. Thus wisdom warrants Indian political leadership to cool down, unload their guns and listen to the advice of its military brass that is asking for a political solution and similarly Pakistan needs to have its introspection and an eye on changing global scenario lest the subcontinent gets unwittingly caught up in a nuclear disaster. At the same our political leadership need to sit on a round table, be realistic and look beyond its nose for the broader interests of the state.

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