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.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Political Shop Called "Kashmir"

Suddenly it appears that marginalized Indian politicians and peacenicks have found a new hobby


In the later part of this week a high profile delegation of parliament members will be in Srinagar. Ram Vilas Paswan, Brinda Karat, D Raja and Shahid Siddiqui are the known faces who are part of this fresh initiative by civil society. Prominent pro-Kashmir journalist Seema Mustafa is organizing the visit to break the deadlock on peace moves. Earlier on September 20, an all-party delegation had visited the state to “understand” what was happening on the ground.

The visit had raised hopes among people but those got dashed soon a non political group of interlocutors was announced.

Whatever the outcome of all these initiatives but this visit throws up an interesting combination: Most of the members in the delegation are from like a “third front” in Indian political spectrum like those from left and people such as Paswan and others.

On the top of it gives birth to a “third front” among peace-makers as all those track-II, behind the scene, behind the curtain and “ostensibly” non-official, “movers and shakers” in “peace constituency” are struggling to get “credit” for breaking the jinx vis a vis peace efforts.

Seema’s entry to into this fairly “new mission” is all set to give “sleepless” nights to those already present in the “field”. She has roped in some credible faces of Indian politics who not only carry some weight but if “sincere” can force government to do something tangible on Kashmir. Seema has earned a good amount of goodwill for her fair reporting of Kashmir’s five month long political unrest. So she is better placed than others.

But this latest move has now three women at loggerheads. Sushobha Barve, who runs the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation in Delhi, has already been fuming over the appointment of Radha Kumar as interlocutor. Questioning her “locus-standi” to be a Kashmir expert, Sushobha has been projecting her work in Kashmir for last 10 years and telling her friends that she should not have been ignored. She has been pointing out that Radha had been doing work on Afghanistan and not Kashmir.

With Radha already on government panel, enjoying the patronage of South and North Block, the “third front” is likely to make Sushobha more uncomfortable. No doubt that her NGO had been working on Indo-Pak front as well but the visibility in Kashmir is must for any “peace maker” to get noticed and get a “good contract”. After all Kashmir has been a sale-able tag for doing the “peace business” during 20 years. It has made people “very rich” and lend them “credibility” to begin from a scratch and rub shoulders with big people in India and Pakistan. Whether people in Kashmir have felt any positive change but these so-called peace makers have made “their life comfortable".

For those crying hoarse over less participation of women in such initiatives the good news is that all the “fronts” of peace in Kashmir have now women at the helm. As the "contest" seems to be “interesting” and "tough" this may help to throw up a road map for Kashmir. Let us wait and see that this contest goes without “spilling any blood”. An adage goes like that two women are enough to create a stir and we have three. Kashmiris are compelled to welcome all. So you too are welcome. (Rising Kashmir)

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