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, October 1, 2010

The One Dimenional Perspective

An Editorial in the Rising Kashmir serves as a vivid example of "pick and choose" (cafeteria style) approach to valley politics

Lessons From APD Visit

By managing national consensus on sending a multi-party delegation to Kashmir, government of India has for the first time in twenty years given out a positive signal.

For one, sending a political delegation marks a shift from the traditional bureaucratic approach; we used to receive bureaucrats in the form of official interlocutors who would later indulge in dark deals with politicians in lieu of the promise to endear them to the establishment. Many believe that talks brokered by bureaucrats run the risk of abortion because government officials take it as just another assignment in which they necessarily toe the government’s line. The all party delegation at least marks a break from this ‘bureaucratic diplomacy.’

Secondly, the delegation ignored the rejection of invite by separatists and chose to call on them at their respective residences. But for that misconceived visit to Tangmarg, the APD experiment could be ranked fairly productive. By visiting the hometown of just one cabinet minister from J&K government the home minister certainly did not do well. The act in itself was good – facilitating a direct interaction with people cannot be bad – but it was a step away from the principles a government should adhere to while reaching out to a bruised people. Nonetheless, the visit turned out to be a good effort at rebuilding the lost rapport with the people. Now, it is time for all stakeholders to draw right lessons from this well ideated but little mishandled experiment. Delhi must think of a more effective, more disciplined and properly conceived follow up to the APD visit. Whatever the mechanism, the practice of handpicking stakeholders should be abandoned. Supporters or beneficiaries of politician or few students form tightly controlled universities should pass as a follow up.

The multi-party dialogue can serve a great starter and it can at least set the tone for solution. On the other hand, separatist leadership too must exhibit political sagacity by following at least the codes of diplomatic decency while engaging with New Delhi. On its part, the state government too should come out of the cubbyhole of street politics. For past many days, the authorities have been working overtime to outsmart Geelani; whenever he calls for a normal day, the authorities clamp curfew. The state government on its own can also establish a channel of communication whereby it can share with separatists a common cause of public good. But on contrary, the authorities here tend to appease New Delhi by coming down heavily on the people. One can only hope that the shift from an official dialogue to a more political dialogue would usher in some hope of a just solution.

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