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

The Power of the Separatist Agenda

Fayyaz from Srinagar: Every Kashmiri politician started his career with separatism and ended with a power deal in Delhi ......

(Mr. Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, 48, was born in Bodina, Budgam, and received his primary and secondary education in Budgam and later at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He completed his Master's degree in Kashmiri language and literature from the University of Kashmir in 1987. After working with Rashtriya Sahara and Kashmir Times in 1993-94, and later for 13 years as Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, he is woking as Resident Editor/ Srinagar Bureau Chief of Jammu-based English daily Early Times since April 2009. He is also a filmmaker whose forte in audio-visual media is Kashmir's composite culture, heritage, ecology and social issues. Since February 2008, he has been regularly anchoring Take One Television's bi-weekly hard talk show "Face To Face With Ahmed Ali Fayyaz" which is watched by more than three million viewers in Srinagar, Jammu and other urban areas of Jammu & Kashmir.)

Who is not a Separatist in Kashmir?

Srinagar: This is now a million dollar question to answer that who is not separatist in Kashmir after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made his historic speech on the floor of assembly on October 6 . The points he (CM) justified on the floor of the state assembly were no different from what Syed Ali Shah Gillani and other separatist leaders have been raising for decades. In his speech, Omar clarified that calling Jammu and Kashmir state as an integral part of India commonly known as (Atoot Ang) was not correct as per the accession agreement . He also declared "Kashmir" as an international dispute which was the long pending demand of hard line Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Even in recent past, Geelani released his five point demands as precondition for restoring time being peace in the state. In his five points, accepting Kashmir as an international dispute was at the first number.

In fact, this is not some thing new in Kashmir politics. Looking back to the history of Kashmir since 1947 one finds that every Kashmiri politician started his career with separatism and ended with a power deal in Delhi . Let us start with the tallest leader of his times Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, grand father of present CM Omar Abdullah, who started his political career as separatist leader when he launched a movement against then Dogra family rule . Though he succeeded to get the people of the state liberated from the Dogra slavery but he continued his separatist attitude even after signing an accession pact with India. History says, when ever Sheikh Abdullah felt loosing his grip on the power by any means, he raised Kashmir issue by challenging the accession pact saying that the agreement with India was temporary . With this tactic, Sheikh always killed two birds with one stone . On one hand Sheikh made his electorates to realize that he was not puppet of Indian government and wanted to fight for "Azaadi" , an emotional slogan , on the other hand Sheikh used to send threatening signals to the government of India that if they ignored him,he could withdraw the accession pact . Not only, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah , even the other Kashmiri leaders who came in power in the state of Jammu and Kashmir on different platforms had their roots in separatism . For instance , Bakshi Gulam Mohammad who had been prime minister of the state after Sheikh was jailed was front runner leader of Sheikh's Muslim Conference which was later converted in to National Conference . Similarly , Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and others were also members of Sheikh Abdullah's Muslim Conference in the early age of their politics . Muslim Conference was the first separatist organisation of the state which fought against the Dogra rule . However , it was converted in to National Conference in late thirties when India managed a power deal with Sheikh.

One can understand the sentiments of Kashmir constituency by taking the example of former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syeed. Although Mufti Mohammad Syeed enjoyed a portfolio of Union home minister in centre but he was never taken seriously by the Kashmiri people untill 1999 when he left Delhi and landed in Srinagar with a popular old Kashmiri slogan 'Kashmir Issue'. Playing tacit politics, Mufti pitched his fire brand daughter Mehbooba Mufti in the field with all freedom that matched with the sentiments of Kashmiris .She almost hijacked all slogans of Separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference. And she succeed to install her 'PAPA' as CM of the state in 2002 which was the long cherished dream of senior Mufti Sahib . She continued her campaign and managed to grab almost double the seats in 2008 elections as compared to 2002.

So, this is not something new in the Kashmir politics that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah raised the Kashmir issue and declared accession of the state with country temporary . Observers are of the opinion that Omar raised this slogan after he felt the ground slipping under his feet and tried to give an impression to his electorates that he was not puppet of Delhi as was projected by his opponents in the past few months . It is also said that the separatist slogan was raised by CM Omar Abdullah after due permission from Delhi . Because , in the past few months Delhi used all its channels and means to bridge the alienation gap between Omar and common masses. And this is the part of Delhi strategy . Moreover , he also wanted to sideline his opposition PDP which was gaining support due to its Kashmir stand.

In fact, all the Kashmiri leaders have always exploited the people of the state in the name of Kashmir issue and AZADI just to reach at the power chair. For reasons apparent, it is very difficult to identify a single politician in Kashmir valley particularly who is not separatist . One can categorise them in various forms but can not ignore or overlook their separatist approach. Needless to mention there are three types of separatists in Kashmir. One, hard line separatists , moderate separatists and mainstream separatists . The hard line and moderate separatist both do not believe in Indian constitution , but the mainstream separatists are those who play separatist card only to achieve the power. One can put Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah in mainstream separatist category and there is no need to worry on their any slogan.

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