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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Imbeciles Leading Sheep

An editorial in the Kashmir Images highlights, once again, a mentally and morally bankrupt group collectively calling itself leaders of "Azadi"

Answers please…

In the year 1994, when militancy in the Valley was at its peak, a group of five women from mainland India, under the banner of ‘Women’s Initiative on Kashmir’, visited Srinagar and other districts of the Valley as a voluntary fact-finding team. At the end of the visit, the team published a report - ‘Green of My Valley is Khaki’ - documenting its findings. The intention here is not to discuss that report as much water has flown down the Jehlum since, and today the situation is entirely different from what it was then. But one simple anecdote from the report is of some interest here. One of the team members narrates details of her meeting with various people. Of the people she met, some stood for accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan; some were for global Islamization; some for independence of Jammu and Kashmir, making it free from both India and Pakistan and; some supported states’ formal accession with India. Most of the times and almost from everyone she would listen the word ‘Azadi’ (freedom) which was as audible during those days in Kashmir as it is today!

During their visit to a carpet weaving workshop in the outskirts of Srinagar, this team member asked a 7-8 year old boy what he wanted. “Azadi”, replied the boy. And when he was asked whom he wanted Azadi from, the team member narrates: “He showed us his bruised palms and said, ‘Azadi Is Se (freedom from this)’!” The gold dust of that ‘dreamed Azadi’ may not have been realized into the gold brick of reality thus far, but we have, during past five months, nevertheless assured that people got Azadi from back-breaking and palm-bruising chores they called earning livelihood. This indeed is an achievement that should be appreciated, and appreciation is greatly due for those who have been in the forefront of the agitation which ensured the achievement!

Sorry for the nasty ridicule; but it is frustrating to see a non-repentant, tactically bankrupt leadership demanding blind adherence to its self-inflicting mass suicidal programmes. And despite having got it, and having ridden the massive wave of ‘popular consent’ (both voluntary and manufactured), today when their tactics have failed, they believe it would, and should be taken sitting down by the people. That, they don’t owe an explanation to the people who invested everything afresh into a new showdown once they were, yet again, told the resistance had “entered a crucial stage” wherein Azadi is the sure end “just round the corner”!

Azadi, a slogan that caught popular imagination of young Kashmiris by late eighties and continues to enthuse millions even now, is yet to be explained by those who raised the slogan, and understood by those who continue to drum it every now and then, summer after summer. What is the Azadi we are actually talking about? Do we intend to change the political masters only? Isn’t this theory of Azadi propagated by some very senior stalwarts? Or, is it the real Azadi of the heart and mind, something that would reflect in people’s access to opportunities wherein they could do whatever they want to do in the best of all possible worlds?

Unfortunately, the term Azadi and its slogans are yet to be given the thought they deserve. This is perhaps why despite thousands of Kashmiris being already buried in hundreds of graveyards spread over length and breadth of the Valley the ‘leaders’ are yet to come up with a viable road-map for Azadi. And worse still is that they persistently refuse to get out of ‘hartal’ (shutdowns and strikes) politics. They seek people’s support, their sacrifices only to squander it owing to their inability to think what to do with it. People are genuine if hey conclude today that these leaders have failed them. If leaders think otherwise, they must spell out how; and articulate why people should continue supporting them. Otherwise also, they owe answers to some critical questions irrespective of whether the silent majority asks questions or not.

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