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.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Blind Leading the Lame

Nayeema notes that Kashmiris lack intellectual honesty and the intelligentsia has let themselves be bought by power

(Ms. Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor, 53, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She completed her B.Sc, B.Ed, LL.B (Hons) and Diploma in Jounalism, and Masters in Education and Urdu from the University of Kashmir. Ms. Mahjoor has also completed a Masters degree in government and politics of South Asian Governments from the University of London. She is presently the Desk Editor, BBC World service (Urdu) based in London (UK). Among various awards, she has been a recepient of the Best Journalist of the year 2005 by ECO India, Best women Journalist by American Biographer and Best Journalist for highlighting environmental issues by Peshawar Environmental organisation.)

Too Much to do Beyond Politics

We cannot plan for the future unless we delve into the past and find out what we have left behind, what has been lost and what can be treasured for the generations to come. Due to our ignorance of our sensitive political history or our timidity we are still reluctant to document every aspect of our life since the partition of the sub-continent or the beginning of the armed struggle.

We have not even inherited the traits of our masters in the past, who have left written accounts of their politics. It was always a practice of kings and Maharajas to hire writers and chroniclers to document events during their rule even though most of these accounts often deviate from the truth. The practice did not stop after India and Pakistan got freedom from colonial power. Both countries are writing about Kashmir according to their suitability and likings. We are silently watching and even accepting what they make us believe. Not to talk of politics only, writers sponsored by governments have recorded the rampant human rights violations committed by the security forces in a way that puts all the blame on militants, exculpating India of any misdeeds. The international community accepts it word by word. Had there been no international human rights organisations that have got some account of violations with the help of local sources we would have lost the details and accounts of the big killing incidents in the early '90s.

In one of the seminars recently held in Kashmir, the intellectuals were asked to play their role in taking the Azadi movement to its logical conclusion and come close to separatist leadership for guidance. It would have been better to call these intellectuals to play their role in writing the detailed account of every event that has remained hidden under the debris of violence and politics.

It is somewhat true that Kashmir lacks intellectual honesty and our intelligentsia have also let themselves be bought by power. Due to this dishonesty others took the lead in writing about the history of turmoil and there are hundreds of internet sites full of venom and propaganda against the majority of the population in the Valley.

What a shame that most of our intellectuals feel the pain of common people only when they retire from active service or are dropped by their political sponsors. There are hardly few in the valley who speak their mind with courage and conviction. True, they do not expect punishment or persecution from the establishment, being independent workers but what a shame if the intellectuals cannot get united to raise their voice against the atrocities committed around them. How can Arundhati Roy or Gautam Navlakha travel hundreds of miles to come to Kashmir and condemn the Indian forces for their actions? It needs enough courage and resolve and honesty to come forward and speak truth for the sake of common people who have to suffer every moment and every step of their lives. The irony in Kashmir is that we always blame others for our miseries. We keep fighting for freedom which has different meanings for different organisations but we do not make it known to the whole world in a powerful and authentic way. We are justified in accusing the Indian security forces for creating havoc in Kashmir during the armed struggle but have we produced any detailed account of this havoc to present it to the outside world? It is pity to say that some of our intellectuals played a worse role than the Ikhwanis but now they take front seat in most of the human rights seminars because they are retired or have nothing left to do. It is forgivable if they have learnt from their criminal past but if they really want to repent their misdeed they can contribute in writing about mysterious killings, disappearances or other similar events in detail so that future generations would have an authentic account of the past. Otherwise, the future generations will be left with the accounts of those who have maligned every aspect of life in the Valley during militancy. I think our intellectuals at least owe this to the people who still have faith in them.

It is not only the record of human rights violations that needs to be set right but those families who suffered socially and economically during the turmoil need a mention in our history. Our intellectuals need to get in touch with the other side of Kashmir in Pakistan in order to obtain information about boys who left to get armed training in the early '90s.

It is important to remember the martyrdom of Dr Guru, Dr Wani and others. Nobody must forget them or their contributions and there are hundreds of other unknown martyrs who deserve to be remembered and mentioned in our turbulent history. It could be done by our intellectuals if they themselves want to be mentioned by future generations.

If it is not done in this digital technology where even a small event reaches every corner of the world in a flash of a second, our future generations will never forgive us. If the dream of Kashmir’s political future comes true tomorrow, the new political set-up cannot work in a vacuum and its pillars would be our past history.

Everybody cannot play politics and real intellectuals are considered the worst politicians. My humble suggestion to intellectuals would be to do something more useful than petty politics. I am quite confident that they have the capacity not only to revolutionise the minds and hearts of the common people but to present the best, authentic and true chronicle of our struggle. So it is high time that they pull together and take the challenge of documenting every aspect or event during our turbulent past so that they leave something for our future generations.

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