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, December 12, 2010

Exploitive Politics

Riyaz says that Kashmir’s victimhood should not be exploited as a political weapon within India

(Mr. Riyaz Masroor, 39, was born and raised in Srinagar. He is a Srinagar based journalist who writes in English, Urdu and Kashmiri. Besides working in the local press, his articles have appeared on BBC Radio online, Himal Southasia and the Journal of International Federation of Journalists. He is currently the Executive Editor of the Rising Kashmir, a leading English language daily newspaper in Srinagar.)

Delegation Politics

Some sections within Indian intelligentsia describe India as a ‘land of million mutinies.’ Civil society activists insist that there are two Indias – the shiny, booming one and the hungry, rebellious one. Between these two Indias lies a world of politics. There are myriad political ideologies crisscrossing the landscape of Indian polity. Communist Party, Rashtriya Janta Dal (whichever factions) etc are the groups that are fighting

their own wars with the Indian system. Kashmir, Chattisgarh or Singur occasionally serve a ‘loudspeaker’ wherefrom these actors make themselves heard; or, the springboard wherefrom these otherwise ineffective politicians want to be catapulted to the national scene. The delegation of ‘civil society’ that concluded its Kashmir visit on Dec 5 cannot be viewed differently.

However, from this latest visit one expects a non-rhetorical representation of Kashmir’s ground reality in the Indian parliament. Whether the politicians or civil society activists associated with Ram Vilas Paswan-led mission are capable of influencing India’s Kashmir policy is not yet known, but Kashmir’s differing political sections have adequately briefed them about what was happening on ground. While Mirwaiz tried to make them understand how important it was for India to allow a smooth solution to Kashmir dispute, Geelani reiterated his demand for referendum to settle the problem once for all. Mahbooba Mufti told the delegation that the concessions claimed in the name of peace process were nothing but mockery. The PDP leader cited the long running practice of re-arresting political prisoners soon after their release. There are some disaffected sections here who believe that communists or socialists come to Kashmir in order to fix their own issues with the Indian state, which they see as their adversary.

While the separatists chose to begin a constructive engagement with such delegations, people in Kashmir are still in two minds whether they should bring those ‘million mutinies’ to their courtyard and hope something good will happen. The parliamentary delegation that came here in September with an official mandate from government of India appeared effective, at least to the extent of stopping the killing spree across Valley. However the goodwill that the all party delegation was bound to generate was soon dissipated by heavy-handed policy that included random arrests, night raids and complaints of police officers demanding ‘ransom’ for arrested youth. That was an insult to the parliamentary delegation and the constitution that empowered their visit. One can just imagine the fate of the fresh delegation.

Such visits cannot be discouraged for they promote a social dialogue. But the state authorities and the local political actors will have to think of an indigenous mechanism whereby the hostilities could be transformed into effective democratic practices. On its part, the state government can establish a channel of communication and share with separatists a common cause of public good. But on the contrary, the authorities here tend to appease New Delhi by coming down heavily on the people. Both New Delhi and separatist leadership as also Pakistan should understand that only an official dialogue can usher in some hope of a just solution to the vexed Kashmir dispute. In order to realize this simple fact, do we need to waste our resource in random hospitality?

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