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, April 22, 2011

A Casualty Named Truth

Junaid comments on how masquerading politicians are refusing to confront reality while sanctifying anarchy

(Mr. Junaid Azim Mattu, 25, was born in Srinagar. He partly completed his schooling at the Burn Hall School, Srinagar, and partly at the Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. He attended college in America and graduated with a degree in Business and Finance from the Eli Broad School of Business at Michigan State University. He is a consulting financial analyst and telecom-IT entrepreneur based in Srinagar. A seeded national varsity debater throughout his school and college career (his grandfather - Khwaja Ghulam Ahmed Ashai - was one of the founding fathers of the Muslim/National Conference), Mr. Mattu also played under-19 cricket at national level for J&K. He is a founder of the World Kashmiri Students Association (WKSA), a global youth association for Kashmiris based in Srinagar, Kashmir, working on social, economic and political issues through constructive and informed activism. WKSA, as of today has 1,700+ registered members in Kashmir. He is also a nominated alumnus of the Global Young Leaders Conference. In his leisure time, Junaid likes to engage in reading, gardening, watching movies and listening to music.)

The Theatre of the Absurd

An assassinated political leader in Kashmir dies two deaths – one at the hands of his anonymous assassins and the second in the default acquittal given to his murderers by a society that is being pushed towards complete and total anarchy. In being ambiguous and spineless in acknowledging the reality, we re-murder the murdered. And, true to our improvised spinelessness, we are in the process of re-murdering Maulana Showkat – by sacrificing the truth for an apparent “greater common goal” – as if our movement hinges on shielding killers. In the process – we end up violating the sanctity of justice, of human solidarity and dignity. In the process, we also end up giving a carte blanche to these radical goons – kill us and we will give you a benefit-of-doubt; we shall understand your righteous act of political murder.

Maulana Showkat’s assassination is as much a consequence of our cowardice as it is an independent act of barbarity. Our refusal to point a finger at murderous radical elements and their political patrons, our inhibition to hold them accountable and our consent in allowing them to function in an accountability free time-warp – our cowardice as a nation has murdered Maulana Showkat. We are all passive accomplices in the murder. Our sense of solidarity towards our leaders is conditional to the pitch of their rhetoric – not their aspirations and vision for our dignity and liberty.

Following Maulana Sahab’s tragic assassination, there were impassioned demands for the murderers to be brought to justice. I wish our acknowledgement of reality was as unequivocal as our demand for justice. The dichotomy of political posturing has perhaps been exposed yet again in our selective openness to possibilities. Maulana Showkat died for his ideas of political moderation and religious accommodation – an anathema to the self-righteous bastion of radical Kashmiri politics – to the ombudsman who has taken upon himself the role to decide what’s right and what’s treacherous in Kashmir.

Kashmiri politics, it appears has become this Shakespearian tragic comedy where colorful characters sarcastically and subtly mock at each other, conspiring against and branding the rational ones while they are alive only to weep foul, shedding crocodile tears when they die. Our sold-souls have robbed our society of the concept of social justice – shocking them into an invective of indifference to everything that has and continues to happen in the name of Azadi – copyrighting the right to mourn and cry, deciding which whimpering sob is “genuine” and which “counterproductive” to the bigger concern of political liberation.

I don’t know if the findings of the Police probe are airtight or weak. I don’t know if the evidence connecting the accused to the assassination is admissible or circumstantial – real or fake – but I’m conscious to the lessons of our history – to the phenomenon of Kashmir’s moderate and independentist leadership dropping dead – one after the other. Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq, Qazi Nisar, Abdul Gani Lone, Professor Wahid, Dr. Guru, Dr. Ashai, Sheikh Aziz, Jaleel Andrabi and many others that slipped through our fingers as we were mute, helpless spectators of our own political orphaning. And each year we express our unfaltering solidarity with our martyrs – known and unknown – pledging to continue our political struggle against the powers that silenced them. However, what’s tragic is that in celebrating and eulogizing the sacrifices of those leaders killed by our own radical goons, we conveniently forget that their assassins continue to roam within our society – not as occupational forces in a uniform but as self-righteous jurists who bask in an unconditional social sanctity for anarchy.

Our moderate separatist leadership, barring a couple of outspoken voices, is cowed down into this guilt of being moderates – as if rational, pragmatic human thought is a cardinal sin – as if being a Kashmiri Nationalist is this shameful admission of being a wimp. They have now changed the assassination narrative to this ever familiar “black-sheep”, “could be anyone” discourse – shamelessly shielding the accused culprits in advance – exercising their right of a default-acquittal – appeasing powers across the border. This tactical phrasing and political monkeying is all-too-familiar in Kashmir. If this right to default-acquittal had to be exercised, why did we clinch our fists, climb on stages and point our fingers towards the sky – promising the people that the murderers wont be shielded? Why these theatrical performances when we knew that we won't be able to stand up to these radical bullies if and when their names would come up in the investigation?

Do we really want to take Kashmir down a road of Kangaroo Courts, Loya Jirgas and Khapp Panchayats – a road of rogue jurists holding murder trials and reading out sentences? I’m not too sure if such an institutional medievalization of our society would be acceptable to a nation that has sacrificed far too much for justice and dignity.

Following each assassination in our history, militant organizations have come out with these almost generic statements of “exposing the culprits”, while maintaining that any indications that murderers were within its ranks was a malicious attempt to “defame” the movement. Maulana Showkat’s response has elicited the same response as organizations are jumping over each other to hold Kangaroo courts. Who would be the judge, who would be a part of this jury and what would the hangman look like?

I’m not for a moment suggesting that we should blindly accept the findings of the police probe. I’m suggesting that we should not dismiss or question them without solid, substantiated reasons to do so – and if there are any such reasons – it’s time to make them public. If not, it’s about time that every single coward, ambiguous and apologetic leader introspects before it’s too late – before we are all annihilated for our beliefs and convictions because come such a day, there will be no mourners or pallbearers – just a nation in trance.

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