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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When the majority Community Fractures into Groups of Minorities

Junaid misses a key point - in a valley once mostly populated by two communities (Muslims and Pandits), when the minority disappears it is inevitable that the majority will fracture into its convenient minorities

(Mr. Junaid Azim Mattu, 26, 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. He recently became the District President Srinagar of the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference, headed by Mr. Sajad Lone.)

Fragmentation Of The Kashmiri Identity

When I was a kid growing up in the subtly morphing static suburbs of a Srinagar under a perpetual siege of uncertainty, we were all Kashmiris - the baker down the lane, the old man who repaired cycles in the small little rented shop outside the mosque, the small family that had just moved-in to the semi-finished new house on the block - we were all willingly and unwillingly woven together into one identity - we were all Kashmiris.

Nobody asked or cared about affiliations, roots or dialects beyond the harmless fooling and mimicking around between kids in the neighborhood playground at dusk or in the grumpiness of old men who tolled like church bells about ancestry and the plague of the noveau riche that was changing us for the worst. Twenty odd years of divisiveness, retribution and political christenings later, we are now apparently a "politically diverse" union of Sunnis, Shias, Shehar Walas, Gaamyik, Pirs, Non-Pirs, North Kashmiris, South Kashmiris, Gujjars and Paharis. Our identity has been stripped down into financial derivatives by conflict bankers - including our own mercantile agents who revel in being Shia, Pahari, Southern, Northern, Gujjar leaders - in their rational reluctance to be Kashmiri leaders. In our convenience to be serfs in-charge of inherited fiefdoms, in our screaming failure to grow into leaders that move nations to glory.
In recovering or dealing with the handicaps of fuedal histories, lands around us have either succeeded or failed in charting new courses defined by common dreams. Ordinary dreams - of dignity, love, prosperity - of families, sunny mornings and hopeful dusks. Identiy - it's destruction or preservation - has determined the survival and failure of Nation States. The moment Pakistan's narrative was decorated by a permanent feature of Punjabi, Jamaati, Barelvi, Sindhi, Shia and Sunni dimensions - 'Pakistan' ceased to exist and mayhem was just a matter of time. What in my opinion has unfolded hence is just a consequence of a prematurely formed and even more prematurely fallen-apart identity.

Kashmir has witnessed a mobilized process of its sense of a singular, all-pervasive identity being decentralized into irrelevance by analysts, journalists, Kashmir-lovers, Kashmir-watchers, interlocutors, this committee and that track. That however is the propaganda part of the story. The tragic underlying reality is that the propaganda has made inroads into reality, thanks to henchmen - "minority" and "majority" leaders, pulpit politics, regional "voices" and countless shadows that proclaim to be heirs to this victomhood or that animosity. In giving post-propaganda credibility to this grand paralytic portrayal of a fragmented Kashmir, Kashmiri politicians and religious contractors have played their pre-determined Machiavellian roles to perfection. PDP, for instance, gave great fillip to the dangerously growing urban-rural and north-south divide during it's reign and as a clueless opposition party continues to nurture regional biases for it's blinding lust or power even today. NC has, all along it's politically devious history, played sects and areas against each other - Gujjars againts Paharis and Shias against Sunnis. Not much has changed. The party's biggest legacy remains it's obsession with dividing Kashmiris into easily harnessable voting pockets and communities. Kashmir's unity into one cohesive identity would unarguably be the political end of both traditional ruling families. Their well-defined roles of played fiddles has further perpetuated the cracks and divides within the Kashmiri nation.

It's imperative that a new Kashmiri leadership emerges to unify the actual and virtual fragments of our erstwhile identity - never a monolith but certainly a nation unified in it's saturation of being lied to and manipulated. Yet what's more imperative is that the people herald this nation into unity - for communities and sects have never risen to glory - it's either the entire nation or nothing. In that HOPE, let's dream of a Kashmir that I knew as a child, where we were all united in both our most irrational struggles and our moat rational desires. For, in that Kashmir - statesmen will be born to chart out a new future - to replace Shia, Sunni leaders, to replace South Kashmiri and North Kashmiri leaders - towards a never-ending sky of development and opportunities.

The myth of regionalism within Kashmir will rage on like arson till we douse it with a binding force, a collective urge to reform how we are misled and misgoverned into misery and punery. In our search for a unifying leadership, we will consolidate our rows into strength.

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