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, November 3, 2012

Peace Promotes Tourism

With improvement in public sensibilities, the pay-off is obvious

Record Number of Tourists Visited Kashmir: Dir Tourism

Mir Liyaqut Ali (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: The Tourism department Thursday said record number of tourists have visited Kashmir this year and tourist influx to Valley is expected to increase by 12 per cent by the end of 2012.

“We have already received record number of tourist this year. 2012 will be the most successful tourist year of the State,” Director Tourism, Talat Parvaiz told Rising Kashmir. He said tourism department has recorded increase in the arrival of domestic tourists this time as compared to last year. “14 lakh domestic tourists visited Kashmir last year. We are expecting the number to increase by more than 12 per cent by the end of 2012,” he said.

Talat said since record number of tourists have visited Kashmir this year, the tour and travel operators, hotels, guest houses and houseboats owners have been doing great business.

On arrival of foreign tourists, he said about 14000 foreigners visited Kashmir last year. “We are expecting 14 per cent rise in influx of foreign tourists by the end of this year”. He said new tourist places including Bangus and Lolab valleys have been explored and added as tourist destinations to promote tourism in the valley. “Special thrust was given to these new explored tourist areas this year”.

“On suggestions of tour operator and other stake holders, tourism department has adopted some other unexplored destinations this year. The infrastructure in these tourist places is being upgraded. The hotels, huts and other tourism related infrastructure has also been put in place at these new places and these will be throw open for tourists next year,” Talat said.

Stating that the tourist season has not ended yet, he said the tourism department was expecting heavy tourist inflow in winter months as well. “We hope this winter would also turn to be a great season for us,” he said. The tourism director said the department has introduced heli-skiing at Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Gulmarg. “We are hopeful that record number of adventure tourists would visit the valley this winter,” he added.

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