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

When Silence is Not Golden But Criminal

Firdous vents his passion after listening to Hurriyat's recent public pronouncement

(Mr. Firdous Syed, 44, was born in Bhaderwah, Doda, and had his schooling in Jammu. He is currently the Chairman of the "Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies," and associated with the J&K National Conference. Between 1989 and 1991, he led the Moslem Janbaaz Force, a militant group, and was jailed from 1991 through 1994. In 1996, he publicly renounced the gun culture, and is an active member of the Kashmir civil society.)

Answer This

Pro-freedom and pro-India divide apart, present Kashmiri political scenario is immersed in filth. The political class in Kashmir on the whole has stooped to an unimaginable low. The so called pro-freedom leadership has crossed all the limits of decency. After maintaining a criminal silence for decades, Professor Abdul Ghani Butt has urged intellectuals to speak truth. “We should speak out who killed Abdul Ahad Wani, Mirwaiz Umar's and Bilal Gani Lone's father”. It is too late in the day to comment on the pangs of conscience of ‘wise’ professor as better late than never? Too little and too little, it will have hardly any affect on the appalling political conditions. There is always a motive behind a politician’s move. He never acts aimlessly.Prof. Ghani is an astute politician, why he raked up a controversy at this juncture? And after remaining silent all these years, why he suddenly has decided to go public? The self professed moderate leaders were in near hibernation all these months of mayhem and unrest. It seems now they have closed their ranks and joined a cause to pin down and destroy for ever their worst political enemy? Has anyone smelt the blood: Syed Ali Geealni in spite of unprecedented public support has once again miserably failed to prove his mettle and carry forward the movement in a meaningful manner?

Even if the motives are sincere: truth should come out. People in all probability will suspect the intentions of the leaders asking the questions, particularly when the political skills moreover integrity of the moderates is suspected by the masses. Moreover what has been asked is almost known to the public. People may not speak openly but they know who killed Abdul Ahad Wani, Mirwaiz Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone? It is also known, why these leaders or almost all politicians and other intellectuals got killed. Furthermore, the ever enthusiastic attitude of police administration to put Pakistan in a dock has very nearly destroyed the possibility of an objective debate. Particularly when Yasin Malik true to his whimsical style has already declared: “90 percent intellectuals work on the ‘government aid”. In such a dreadful environment of suspicion hardly anybody will stick his neck out and speak the truth?

Truth is sacrosanct, it has to prevail. Had we not been cowards or hypocrites, whosoever killed Mirwaiz Farooq in 1990 should have the courage to own the killing. If late Mirwiaz as some sections still believe was anti movement, Mazar-e-Shudha should not have been his final resting place. Traitors and martyrs cannot share the same space. Not only this, it also gave rise to a culture of indiscriminate killings. Since militant organizations were not under obligation to publicly own their acts, they started bumping off their opponents at will. It took no time for the Mujahid’s to become merciless killers. Some innocents were even killed on the flimsy grounds just to settle the personnel scores. And then usual champions of religion enacted Sharia courts, deciding the fate of innocents these kangaroo courts began hanging people from the trees. Mirwaiz Farooq for that matter all other innocent civilian didn’t deserve to be killed ruthlessly. Mirwaiz in real sense was a politician, like traditional politicians he too had his weaknesses as well as strengths. From my own experience I can safely vouch that he feared for his life. Few days before his death, Gulam Qadir Hagroo a senior peoples League activist wanted me to meet Mirwaiz, for some reasons meeting could not take place. The purpose of the meeting was to put Mirwaiz at ease--militants had nothing personal against him. I am not sure whether our meeting would have put Mirwiaiz’s anxieties at rest. Dozens of militant organizations and many more splinter groups were freely operating.

Mirwaiz Farooq’s death was a big jolt. It raises many questions. For that matter all the high profile killings of persons like Abdul Ahad Wani, Abdul Ahad Guru, Gulam Qadir Wani and Abdul Ghani Lone have given birth, to many new controversies? If Mirwaiz Farooq, Abdul Ahad Wani, Abdul Ahad Guru, and Abdul Ghani Lone were killed on the orders of ISI, why Mirwaiz, Yasin and Bilal Lone still considers Pakistan to be a friend? And if Hizab-ul-Mujahideen is the real culprit, how come killers and killed could co-exist all these years. How was it possible for Mirwaiz Umar, Yasin and Bilal to work together with Geelani? It is a very bizarre situation wherein both killers and the victims are double-faced? Killers in order to cover-up their crime are compelled to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Why the self appointed political heirs of the killed knowing well the faces behind the veil failed so far to unmask the assassins of Abdul Ahad Wani, Abdul Ahad Guru, Gulam Qadir Wani and Abdul Ghani Lone and numerous other innocents?

It is not easy to answer all these questions. The truth is buried deep under the mystery. Rather than revealing the truth after uncovering the upper layer, the whole affair gets messier. Let us for a while accept that Mirwaiz Farooq was killed on the orders of a militant commander, shall we assume that the high command of that outfit after due deliberations ordered the killing? Stretching further the imagination, shall this also be concluded that assassination was carried out on the direct instructions of ISI? Perhaps Mirwaiz’s murder was a rogue act of a splinter group believing in holier-than-thou attitude, not an organizational operation. In such an unpredictability and uncertainty, no concrete conclusions can be drawn.

Most of the civilian killings, (other than the killed by Indian forces) some indeed were ordered from the top and even from across the border, are individual acts or carried due to the local considerations by the junior commanders. Innocent bloodshed is the main reason for the failure of the militant movement. It destroyed the moral basis and removed the distinction of a suppressed and a suppressor, ultimately leading to the erosion of overwhelming public support. Had APHC leaders been the free agents, they could have taken a courageous stand against the innocent killing when it mattered, it could have put brakes on the wanton killings and not allowed the movement to go astray. Crying wolf after two decades will only muddy the waters and fuel the raging fires of distrust and acrimony in the society.

Is it not an irony, if Mirwaiz could have escaped the death until the formation of APHC, he would have become the founder Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference? Ideological neatness is not the high point of this movement. Here a killer can be portrayed as messiah and a patriot as a traitor. It simply depends on the configuration of the time and political expediency. More than the mercenary culture of the APHC leader’s, ideological bankruptcy of the present movement is the real reason for the doom. Nationalists here are not true nationalists and people claiming to be the champions of the religion are the most horrible and ideologically barren. Respective ideological positions are subject to convenience rather based upon any conviction, the main reason for the prevailing ideological confusion. But if we are convinced that leaders are mercenaries, why do we expect them to be the torch bearers of any ideology.

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