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.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hoping for the Return of the Native

Fida sees Asha's election victory a milestone in the restoration of the Kashmiriyat

(Mr. Fida Iqbal, 47, was born in Sopore. He attended the D.A.V. School in Nayadyaar, Rainawari, and the Government Higher Secondary School in Sopore. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agriculture/Floriculture and Landscaping from Chowdhry Chottu Ram College at Muzaffarabad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Iqbal works with the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department as a landscape architect. He enjoys kitchen gardening, reading writing, and is very a passionate and dedicated golf player.)

A Hope Called Asha

In serence wausan hamlet within administrative block Kunzar in north Kashmir, simple but politically vigilant and socially well aware villagers are continually felicitating middle aged ‘Asha Ji’ a Kashmiri Pandith lady for her being elected as their representative to village Panchayat. In trouble torn valley of Kashmir were politics is dragged in almost every sphere of life and every crucial issue gets garnished with political plots, elevation of a minority Kashmiri Pandith lady to the position of Panch is a comprehensible message of everlasting brotherhood and amity embedded in the social structure of Kashmir. Existence of sagacious sense of harmony within Kashmiri mindset irrespective of faith they practice is essence of Kashmiriyat and ‘Asha-Ji’s’ selection as representative of her fellow villagers is symbol of Kashmiriyat. Many critics of Kashmir and its people will portray this gesture of maturity and righteousness as an act of pretense, but the way People of Wausan preferred ‘Asha –Ji’ over Muslim contestant Sarwa Begum by a thin margin of votes, the conduct of villagers can no be termed as pretentious behavior.

Migration of Kashmiri Pandiths from Kashmir was the most tragic episode in the turbulent history of Kashmir, and ever political school of thought and societal leadership in Kashmir have been loudly and openly condemning distressing exodus of Pandiths. In the past Kashmir had witnessed many migrations but the existing exodus of Kashmiri brethren was catastrophic. This tragedy of social disaster was never acceptable to majority of Kashmiri people but circumstances some times make the strong and potent beings to face the hard realities of political maneuvering orchestrated by powerful vested interests. No one can invalidate the just and genuine aspirations of people of Kashmir and disagree with the sufferings faced by them while pursuing their agenda of justice, but even in times of extreme hardships a common Kashmiri never approved of any violation of set rules of harmony and amity within its community system . And ‘Asha-Ji’ as her name depicts is hope of future of amity within the different social and religious components of our society and she has become icon of Kashmiriyat we are proud of.

Kashmir and Kashmiris have suffered a lot. Ever home in Kashmir got affected; death, destruction and desperation engulfed this vale of beauty, love and amity. In every part of Kashmir we face the hard facts of mayhem. After so much of devastation widows, half widows, orphans and other features and facets of disorder are now part of our social order. Situation in Kashmir was incessantly precarious especially for last two decades the situation was by no means worth living for any civilized people. We all suffered in this situation of quandary irrespective of cast, colour, creed and the faith we follow. Hopefully, either we have reconciled with the situation of turmoil or our prayers for honorable peace are showing some positive results. As death keeps no calendar, so does the destruction and gloom; and people of Kashmir faced the worst phase of death, destruction and gloom largely during last two decades. Who was responsible for this predicament and who perpetuated the situation of impasse? No conclusions are valid.

Pandiths were wooed into situation of stalemate; a sinister approach of whipping fanatical hostility out of their innocence and religious sentiments was tailored to create a wedge. Ever Kashmiri by nature and by genetic state of creation is sentimental and can easily be tutored to exploitation even after possessing high levels of intelligence and understanding of political matters. Kashmiri Pandiths being largely educated lot became victim of machination of dividing people of Kashmir at the hands of few vested interests. Traditional leaders in Kashmir at the time of sham migration were either fearing for their lives or were party to sinister plot of dividing people of Kashmir on religious and ethnic lines and at that point of time very few people within the community braved the tide of exodus but ultimately yielded (or more reasonably saying, succumbed under pressure) to the hidden ominous plot of divide and rule. Thus history of ‘Kashmiri brotherhood’ was redrawn with black linings of hatred and hostility. In the heart of hearts every Kashmiri, particularly the majority community of Muslims feel embarrassed as they could not help holding this madness of alienation.

Hamlet of Wausan is the innovative canvas of aspirations of the people of Kashmir and ‘Asha-Ji’, the invaluable portrait of Kashmiri hope. Wausan vote will turn out to be the real face of Kashmiriyat and the true story of sentiments of generous people of Kashmir. This canvas of renewed brotherhood painted in the remote rural landscape of Kashmir is bereft of any machinating intentions and can usher people of Kashmir as a whole into a new era of kinship and closeness. This apparently small endeavor of inhabitants of Wausan village in real sense is a Himalayan effort to bridge the gap between estranged brothers of same ancestry. But this message of amity needs to be taken well without any malice and conclusions of choice. Every relation is symbiotic in behavior and requires utmost sense of belonging with strokes of harmony and mutual trust. Much water has flown down the vetesta with much of Kashmiri blood and wishes to come out of the oblivions of subjugation. Time has arrived that every Kashmiri should join hands, first to strengthen the bonds of Kashmiriyat and then move forward hand in hand to strive for their genuine objective of emancipation, empowerment and peace.

Our Kashmiri Pandith brethren should read the clear message between the lines, sense the feeling of ‘Asha’ in Asha-Ji’s election and try to assert the factual state of affairs in Kashmir. Heavy hearts, moist eyes, broader minds and open arms are waiting in the land of Kashyap Reshi and Sheikh-ul- Alam to welcome them. They should see the beacon light of harmony emanating from the land of Baba Reshi and follow the footsteps of large hearted people of Kashmir by reciprocating the gesture of solidarity with their journey back home.

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