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.

Friday, February 11, 2011

True Lies

Ashraf says that in Kashmir the “Truth” has become flexible depending upon the requirement of the circumstances

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf, 67, was born and raised in Srinagar. He attended the S.P. High School and the S.P College before joining the Regional Engineering College at Naseem Bagh in Civil Engineering. However, he changed his career to adventure sports like mountaineering and skiing, completing his training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling and Gulmarg. He also completed a diploma in French language from the Alliance Française in New Delhi. He joined the J&K Tourism Department in 1973, rose to become its Director-General in 1996, and retired in 2003 after 30 years of service. He has been associated with the Adventure Sports at the national level and was recently re-elected as the Vice-President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, the apex body of adventure sports in India, for two years. To commend his efforts in introducing rescue measures in Kashmir Mountains, he was awarded “Merite-Alpin” by Swiss in a special function in Les Diablerets in 1993. He continues to be a member of the Governing Council of IMF and is also the President of Jammu & Kashmir Mountaineering & Hiking Club.)

Nothing but the “Truth”!

Dishonesty and untruth or falsehood seems to have become part of our daily life. We do not feel any compunction while speaking a lie! Sometimes it is projected to be the survival instinct of a Kashmiri which has been ingrained into our psyche by centuries of oppressive external rule.

For a Kashmiri survival required forgetting all principles of morality and honesty. However, over the years it has become our second nature. We do it even if we are under no compulsion. It is the communist dictum, “the end matters, means don’t matter!” In reality, the corrupt means corrupt the end also. Recently a very senior leader of Kashmir’s popular movement spoke the “truth” about the killing of some leaders in the past. According to him these leaders were not killed by the government or other agencies but by our own people and no one had the courage to admit this fact at the time of the occurrence of these assassinations. Well, he took his own time in coming out with the truth! Speaking the truth at the time of the occurrence of an event is different than declaring it after decades. Had the truth been spoken when the events occurred, Kashmir’s movement may have taken a totally different turn! However, this was not the only untruth; Kashmir has been living with for last two decades. In fact, there are hundreds of such untruths which have been there for last 63 years or so. The very first untruth is the accession of the state to the Indian Union. No one has been really able to speak the truth behind the entire episode. It is rather foreigners who have been writing more about the factual position than our own people. Did accession really take place? People have questioned even that! Coming to killings, there is no end. The very first innocent killings took place near Ram Bagh Bridge when the Indian troops landed here in 1947.

This incident too was hushed by the leaders of the movement at that time! During last 63 years there have been massacres, individual killings, even removal of relics like the holy hair of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Hazratbal mosque which have remained unsolved. No one knows the real truth behind these episodes. The truth has been quite flexible in Kashmir. It has been uttered in the fashion it suited particular set of people, in particular set of circumstances at particular times. There has never been absolute truth. We cannot blame any particular person or organisation or agency. We have all been guilty of suppressing the truth for our own convenience.

It has been alleged that some killings had been engineered by the intelligence agency of a neighbouring country. It is not only killings but the very political line towed by some organisations has been doctored by that agency. Every country has its own interest and the intelligence agencies are meant for protecting as well as furthering that interest by all means, legal or illegal. The same is the case with the agencies on this side of the border. There is always a game of wits being played between the rival agencies and sometimes these games take very dirty shape! These agencies have neither any dearth of resources nor any accountability. Even the people in their own countries are mortally afraid of them. To speak out the truth in such circumstances is definitely an act of extreme courage. However, unless people are prepared to speak the truth regardless of the consequences, things won’t change for the better. It is a fact that the intelligence agencies of both the countries have liquidated inconvenient people either through straight forward assassinations or through fake encounters. Apart from indulging in brutal acts of liquidating inconvenient people through various illegal means, the agencies also undertake concerted disinformation campaigns for character assassination of leaders of various organisations. Concealment of truth is a matter of state policy for these clandestine state organisations. This does not happen only in our part of the world but is a universal phenomenon. The account of machinations indulged in by CIA and Mossad given in William Blum’s book, the “Rogue State” sends shivers down one’s spine. According to the author who himself was an agent, the list of assassinations planned by CIA included even Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru!

The funniest part of the recent disclosures has been the jubilation expressed by the ruling elite betraying the attitude of “I told you so!” They have probably forgotten that the most important commitment made by them before last election was the constitution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Normally such commissions are set up after a country is freed from bondage. However, it would have been a positive move to demonstrate Indian sincerity towards the suffering people if such a body had been set up at least to go into the incidents of last two decades including the thousands of disappearances. On the contrary, the attempts at hiding the truth continue. In fact, the recent declaration of the three non-political interlocutors that the majority of Kashmiris are not in favour of UN Resolutions is the classic untruth. May be the interlocutors meant that the Kashmiris did not favour UN Resolutions because these offer only two options and the majority of the people as surveyed by a British Organisation, are fed up with both the countries and want an independent Kashmir?

Now that the “Truth” has begun to be spoken, it augurs well for all of us. Let us all decide to be honest and speak the truth, nothing but the truth. It is the only way we can move forward. One can fight the falsehood only when one speaks the truth without fear or favour. It has not to be one time speech but it has to be spoken always in every matter that concerns us. Will it happen? That only time will tell but surely on that may depend our destiny!

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