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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Does the Hurriyat Understand the Challenge?

An Editorial in the Rising Kashmir challenges the Hurriyat to come up with a new political strategy that is dynamic and tailored to changing political landscape

Bunkers and Hurriyat

By pulling down bunkers Govt has confirmed the nonviolent nature of separatist movement; Hurriyat should think of a radical bargain strategy.

Pulling down of a security bunker by the very inhabitants of the bunker symbolizes peace and reconciliation. But the real task starts from where the demolition of the bunker ends.

The move may not evoke overwhelming applaud because such gestures in past have never moved beyond symbolism. However the step, if carried forward in tandem with political initiatives, is bound to create a real goodwill on ground. At a time when even the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah shares concern with separatists at least on troop-cut in Kashmir, New Delhi critically needs to translate such gestures into productive actions. Lot of symbolism in past has culminated on more trouble; this is the time when words flying down from Delhi should sound not just true but should also appear true on ground.

Removal of bunkers from populated areas is in fact part of the eight-point proposal that came up after at least forty lawmakers from India visited Kashmir at the height of political and administrative breakdown. This had been proposed by the all party delegation that recently visited the troubled Valley. Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar have yet again given out an ill-calibrated response. Rejecting anything or everything that comes from Delhi has been a wanton practice in Kashmir’s separatist politics. Rather than dismissing the removal of bunkers as eyewash the separatists should have welcomed it and thrown a challenge before the state government by identifying more such spots where they want a sort of ‘local demilitarization’.

True the state apparatus in J&K has an undemocratic and authoritarian demeanor but the separatist camp must do some rethink over the need to have a bargain strategy. States, they must understand, cannot be outsmarted by street campaigns. And, the states concede, neither to armed rebellions nor to street fighting. A strong state concedes only to a stronger state. However, by organizing enough moral isolation to the state, the people can force it to think. This much has been achieved by Geelani and the next step is to bargain. But the political culture Hurriyat has grown used to is not of bargain, it is of confrontation or tacit reconciliation. Even if New Delhi’s latest CBM in the form of removing some bunkers is not a sincere initiative, this could not be scotched by a handout. When you mark a transition from militancy to politics, the battle should define the collusion of ideas not egos. As compared to state government Hurriyat Conference enjoy social sanctity for variety of reasons. It should not, therefore, shy away from adopting a radical bargain strategy. The engagement with New Delhi should be unzipped from the confines of accepting or rejecting something. But, to acquire a bargain strategy the institution of dialogue has to be recognized in spite of past abortions. Syed Ali Geelani has already moved a step by proposing CBMs; he can walk an extra mile by pin pointing the security installation that need be removed. This would give credence to the process of conciliation and the authorities in Delhi would start thinking afresh on the CBMs that may be following.

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