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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pushing People Into Virtual Self-destruction

Syeda highlights consequences of a directionless and leaderless Kashmir

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

This is Just Suicidal!

As events in Kashmir are happening, a strange kind of situation is unfolding, unlike the one that emerged in simmering summers of 2008 and 2009, or even during the last two decades of conflict.

Today, the state of affairs has thrown up various ensigns. The disquieting and disgusting level of developments has been more intense. With so many deaths of teenagers over a span of few weeks, the delineation of nasty side of the turmoil has been unambiguous. From unarmed 9-year old boy to adolescent stone-pelter, the casualties in Kashmir are becoming shattering and shocking. The budding base of this society is alarmingly falling into annihilation by going furious. This wasn’t so earlier when armed and mature youngsters of this place fell to bullets.

Perhaps the glorification of violence was not as influencing as it is today. When armed resistance erupted, there was at least a fair understanding of what’s going on and why. The air of mystery was not massive. There was a face to most of the actions and agendas. Very few persons and groups could call the shots. The house of resistance was not this much divided. And most importantly, the teenage group was not at all visible anywhere.

Today, there is a shock defeat in many of the things that smack of a directionless and leaderless Kashmir. No one is doing plain speaking. People at the helm of affairs are either peculiarly silent or talk hypocrisy or else speak suicidal. Without weighing the pros and cons of any plan or programme, some of them are pushing Kashmir into virtual self-destruction. Interestingly, crowds do not follow them, it seems the other way round.

Serving as counterweights in opposition to those who surreptitiously encourage and manipulate bloody anarchy, we don’t have to prove to be capable of nothing but historical disasters time and again. The impulsive restiveness of any flustered nation can be channelized for task fruition in a spate of events that are small sequences of a long drawn struggle. And prudent are the ones who grab it, using appropriate strategy to step ahead on a dicey path. The crafty adversary, the collective state of societal character, the economics and the sustainability of plunging whole population in to an unending unrest/chaos are something that need serious thought and no individual/group/party have resources and political acumen, sorry to say, to decide such things.

It goes without saying that winning strategies or roadmaps are never suicidal. With no self-sufficiency preparation at the back, the plight of hundreds of ailing and sick surviving on life-saving drugs, and poor and hungry who live by hand- to- mouth cannot be ignored. Equally, children of conflict cannot afford to be illiterate. There is much and much at stake than what press releases from certain quarters reek of. To change the reality, there is a dire need to be truthful. It would be naive to formalize the events as guns-(stones)-versus-butter problem, but an implicit realism is, all the same, required to allocate our meagre resources between satisfying our routine essential necessities and the means of resistance sustenance. All this calls for an ideological reform at an individual level, which cannot be achieved by shutting ourselves up within four walls or by reducing everything to rubble.

A crucial moral dilemma is confronting all of us. We have to decide and not to dictate. The answers are within us, we have to develop insight and tolerance to confront and confess them. If guns have failed us, can stones suffice? We cannot afford ‘sacrificing’ our defenceless kids; it’s criminal to allow them to take bullets on their innocent bodies, thereby converting them into instruments of politics. We have to shun hypocrisy for if I want my kid to be a doctor or a scientist, I have no right to rally the kids of lesser mortals to mausoleums. At the expense of their sprawling graveyards, we cannot do politics. If it is a class war between have and have-nots or between white and blue collared people or between uptown and downtown localities or between urban and rural areas, then let us be open and honest, and leave masquerading as messiahs of this ill-fated nation.

Dichotomy never carries the day. Resistance wars are not fought in a foul way. There is no internal and external course of action, no private and public preferences, especially when fighting a powerful opponent who has displayed deficit of democracy and genuine space of dissent towards Kashmir.

Therefore, instead of allowing things in Kashmir to go anarchist way, the separatist camp needs to capitalize over the present scenario by showing seasoned approach of crisis management and sagacious politicking. It should express its willingness to come to negotiating table on its own terms and conditions. A well-laid four or five point indigenous formula, for instance revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), release of prisoners, reduction of troops, lifting of restrictions, assistance package for those killed or injured recently by police firing, and timely probe into killings by unjustified police firing on protestors, etc. can set the ball rolling in the court of nervy New Delhi.

Of course, the solution to Kashmir cannot be expected to be round the corner. Such conditions can just help build up a phased momentum towards that goal. The recent statement of PC that government wanted to “win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir, and would resume dialogue and ask the separatists, including Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to join it” (PTI, 6 Aug) needs a judicious response. For opportunistic mainstream political parties who have a one-point agenda of enjoying the comforts of pelf and power, people in Kashmir have lost all hope in them. However, at this critical juncture, the separatist camp cannot afford division now and further; it has to react with lot of responsibility for Kashmir is already in shambles enough to shake its thinking inertia. New Delhi has to be told by a united and potent voice that Kashmiri people won’t continue to die cheap; it has to stop treating them as caged creatures of any doomed animal farm.

Rather than getting into dead end of violence, a monstrous cycle of death and disappointment, as experienced painfully over and again, we need to break the ground. And let the world know.

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