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, September 21, 2012

Dream Unrealized

Altaf sees hope only in inter-community dialogues, communal amity and respect for human rights

(Mr. Altaf Bashir, the author is studying International Relations (Peace and Conflict Studies) at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora.)

Peaceful Kashmir!! It is fall and there is a slight cooling in the air, I have just joined the University in Kashmir for the study of Conflict and International Relations. As I take a full breath I am filled with this feeling of Joy and the thoughts begin dancing in my mind with this forward vision, of seeing myself beginning this new part of my journey and experiencing this new campus life. The university is situated at a serene nature spot surrounded by the majestic mountains’ I am quickly finding that it requires more energy to tread on slope just to reach the campus, as I pace myself it makes me feel as I am trekking, my lungs begin to struggle with a mild suffocation as my breathing becomes hard and my body begins to perspire.

As the beginning days unfold I realize that the teachers are good and that they extend their educating hours by sending us home with reading assignments each day. The goal is to prepare us, the class, to form a critical analysis on the topic of Conflict and International Relations.

One day in my class, I was asked, while in a group discussion, for my analysis and thoughts about the situation here in Kashmir. I then began to share my own thoughts and vision of our situation here in the valley. My thoughts first prompted me to address the apparent loss of faith in the extended facilitation of our community, This loss of faith has occurred over a period of time, with the huge demonstration of control and military presence along with the abrupt violence we have experienced.

Over the years everyone here has lost faith in what has occurred in Kashmir. As time progressed our youth had become the prisoners of their own time and being born and growing up in this control had taken its toll and only allowed them a painted image in their minds of freedom. These youth began to take up arms during 90s and in recent mass uprising youths resort to stone pelting and the undergoing of arms training in 90s across the border along with acts of intimidation against innocent citizens. After great loss and realizing the pros and cons of these misdemeanours, they have now completely shunned this path of violence that had led many youth and fellow friends and family to a result of death and devastation. They have begun to understand more fully the impact of such acts and have been progressive and are now choosing a more desired approach and honourable manner. They realized that that a positive result could only be achieved through peaceful means, that the exact thing that they were fighting against, they had embodied through retaliation of this violence. In absentia of peace or in a problematic situation little solution is possible, without these greater understandings.

The year 2010 had brought about a large scale disturbance throughout the Kashmir Valley. The perpetrators of the incriminating activities will never be forgiven. It is through perseverance and community support that we were able to endure these difficult times and with such great loss. The local business and shop owners struggled just to survive and the families that lost loved ones will never forget. Nobody yielded anything out of these events except death and destruction. Again the previous “Hartal Calls” led to a downfall of the economic status of many innocent and common people of Kashmir. The closing and days of curfew affected the whole community including the Colleges and Universities and therefore had an adverse impact on the students. The number of dropouts in various examinations remained highly elevated and the moral lowered tremendously.

The start of a new beginning starts with the first step in that direction, and the discarding of terrorism in Kashmir, the resuming of dialogues, the acceptance of a mutual brotherhood, co-existence ,communal amity, and by all means the observance of Human Rights!

The youth today are now indulging in academics, visiting coffee cafes, they sincerely want to believe in peace as they now have experienced devastation and the other side of the coin so to speak. The peaceful ways and means hopefully will only lead everyone in Kashmir to yield positive results. Situations and daily life have begun to change and the young college girls are now learning to drive a scooter or small vehicle so they are able now to take their mothers or younger sisters along with them as they take a cognitive step forward to make for a brighter future. Through taking these more bold steps forward they are gradually leaving their shyness behind and becoming more competent in today’s world. They only hope that in the near future they will see a more prosperous and peaceful Kashmir. InshaAllah

This year 2012 a huge rush of tourist populated our Kashmir indicating that normalcy has begun to return. These tourist and their families are enjoying visiting the tulip garden and adjacent Mughal gardens here in Kashmir as they also wanting to see and believe in a welcomed return to peace and prosperity. The most important factor which could lead Jammu & Kashmir towards prosperity is the peaceful and a very dignified positive approach. All the bilateral and outstanding issues could be settled with the help of a substantially constructive dialogue. So we all need to understand and realize that we cannot achieve any positive results through an application or element of violence.

As for my true vision of Kashmir people in general, I believe that they have little grievance, they are truly peace loving citizens right from the very beginning and not so conflicted by the political development. The older generation is concerned with life and family and prayer programs while the youth are interested in the future architecture of their careers, beginning a new family life of their own and a positive progress towards a future peace among all. The decisions we make today help to form the future and our tomorrow. I believe the government should be just, that the decisions that the people representing us the people of Kashmir, demonstrate and administer proper choices which are for the greatness of our people. That through their actions and choices they demonstrate some sound integrity and care for what they are representing and that through this process Kashmir again will become the heaven on earth.

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