Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

8/30/08

Imprisonment of a Whole Nation

Calling this forced imprisonment of all Kashmiris for the seventh straight day a "curfew" is exactly what the Indian colonizers want the world to know. The world media in all their self-imposed blindfold to the happenings in Kashmir will simply jot down what the Indians want them to. I have been restraining myself in calling this double-standard about reporting on Kashmir as being biased. However, I think it is time to call the world media just that - stooges in the hands of the people who control the media empire. There is no such thing as a free press anymore; not even overseas. I always took this as being fact in India. Their free-press is a sham just as their so-called democracy is. When they start calling this curfew a mass-imprisonment of a whole nation; that is the time I'll start believing there is any such thing as a free-press.

Has the international press even attempted to report about the most horrific of the human-rights violations about which everyone in Kashmir knows about that happened in the last few days? Why this sudden black-out of reporting about these barbaric actions of Indians soldiers. I am referring to the beating of the expectant mother who was beaten by the Indian soldiers while on her way to the hospital. What are expectant mothers to do in this so-called curfew? Post pone their deliveries? These Indian barbarians will not even spare expecting Kashmiri mothers from their ire. A Kashmiri lady in labour was brutally beaten up for violating the curfew. She was on her way to the hospital for her delivery (read the story here). And consider this is only one instance of the terror that has been unleashed on Kashmiris. We have heard about even children were not spared (watch the video here) and were beaten to a pulp. If this is not a colonizer's attempt to consolidate their hold on an occupied territory than what is it? And the world media is an accomplice to these horrific acts for not reporting on these.

I have never been so disappointed by the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries). They have let us down over and over again. What use is this organisation if it cannot use its clout to get us out of this oppression. It is in these times that we should learn from the EU or NATO.

The OIC could help us if they wanted to; there is no doubt about this. Consider for a moment if Kashmir were a Christian country. What do you suppose the reaction of the "christian" EU would be? They would most certainly have brought India to task for these unspeakable horrors that it has perpetraed on our nation. There is no other reason for their silence other than the fact that we are a muslim nation; that explains their indifference to our sufferings. Had we been a christian country, a few economic sanctions from EU, and India would have been on their doors with a beggars bowl asking for clemency - And the Kashmir problem would have been solved just like that. This is what we should learn from the Christian countries. They always look out for one another.

All OIC has to do is to take a clue from all this. Even a threat of sanctions against India would bring us relief. Curbing their oil supplies; cutting off all imports from India; freeze off aid to India. Is this too much to ask for a fellow Muslim country being ravaged by a colonial power like India?

It is time for the OIC to take a leadership role to get a fellow Muslim nation out of occupation. It is legally and morally imperative they do that. The Kashmir issue is not about armed rebellion or terrorist attacks. It is about 40 peaceful protestors demanding freedom who were killed in cold blood. It is about half-a-million peaceful marchers who were terrorized by occupation Indian forces, and it is about 17 million Kashmiris who have been forceably imprisoned in their homes for the past seven days for seeking the most basic of human needs - freedom.

8/27/08

Independence: A viable option

I would like to start posting my thoughts about the viabilty of Kashmir sustaining itself as an independent nation. You must have already guessed where my sympathies lie whilst reading the title of this article. Inspite of my pro-Independence leanings, I would like to analyse some arguments against this option. I will spend some time writing this, so same as while discussing the Pakistan option, this section will also likely be spread over several days.

I will straight away jump into it, and we all know that should India take it upon itself to practice real democracy and grant Kashmiris the right to a referendum to decide our fate, most certainly a majority of us would opt to stay independent. Many of you must be wondering why I use the term 'referundum' instead of the commonly used term 'plebiscite'. I will digress a little and explain my reasoning behind this.

Kashmiris have to be pragmatic and we have to change tactics as events unfold. The reason why we should change the vocabulary of our demands is that for all practical purposes, holding a plebiscite suggests that we would like India and Pakistan to live up to their responsibilty guaranteed to us by the UN resolutions, which asks that both these countries facilitate a plebiscite to be held under the supervision of the UN. This is all perfect in theory, however, very difficult to implement in practice. To make our demands more viable, we have to present our case as feasable and as being in the interests of all the peoples involved. Any result of a plebiscite would drag all the regions of the state one way or the other - even if they had voted for a complete opposite outcome. It is no surprise that the people of Jammu city and Ladakh would rather be with India. Therefore, this scenario is probably holding back many western supporters for our cause and in pressuring India to live upto its obligation. Keeping this in mind, let me explain why calling for a region-wise referundum would make it easier for us to get the international community to back us in our freedom struggle.

The results of a region-wise referendum for the parts of Kashmir occupied by India would come as a surprise to no one - Only Jammu city, Kathua, and Udhampur and perhaps Ladakh as well will opt to stay with India; the rest of the districts of the the Kashmir valley, Kargil, Doda (including Kihtwar), Poonch, and Rajauri will definitely want to join Kashmir as an independent country; however predicting the outcome of areas held by Pakistan is more difficult.

For one, many put forth the argument that Pakistan would be hell-bent against this arrangement since they have nothing to gain and everything to lose in this re-arrangement. This is a valid point to make since India will be gaining Ladakh, and three districts of the Jammu region, whereas Pakistan will likely lose all territory under its control, should a regionwise referendum be held. It will be very difficult for us to convince Pakistan to even consider a regionwise referundum; however, let me consider both options, first let us assume they agree to go ahead with this proposal.

Let us also assume for a moment that the regions under Pakistan, Gilgit, Hunza, and Muzaffarabad, (all of AJK) chose to join us in forming the new nation. We would most certainly need the cooperation of Pakistan in making this a success.

to be continued....

8/24/08

Forced conversion would not sustain a thousand years

I have been quite puzzled with what I have been reading on websites that proclaim to be quite unbiased in thier views and yet they have this underying anti-Islamic tone. For one, they keep lecturing Kashmiris that we should accept the untruth that Kashmiris were forcible converts to Islam. They do not provide any historical account to back such a claim or even any source with a shred of authenticity to it. They want Kashmiris to simply accept the fact that every single one of our ancestors was forcibly converted to Islam, solely for the sake of them mentioning it on their hatefilled websites.

It is an established fact that before the advent of Islam in Kashmir, Hinduism and Buddhism were the main religions practiced here. However, these history-distorters fail to mention about the works of Shah-e-Hamdan, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani or Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi . These learned scholars, who arrived from western asia from the 12th century onwards, preached the teachings of Islam, and Kashmiris voluntarily, and overwhelmingly accepted their message of peace and equality. These scholars did not arrive with a caravan of soldiers or any means to force their views on the Kashmiris of that time. History shows us that these are the facts.

Had it been the case that muslims were forcible converts to Islam, then it would be natural that resentment of Islam would have lingered with Kashmiris just simmering within, waiting for an opportune time to revert back to their old religion and the converts would have left Islam the first chance they were given. As we know from history, these chances were provided to the Kashmiris time and again but we are unaware of any muslims reverting back to Hinduism. In 1857, Ranbir Singh, the Maharaja at the time, commenced an aggressive campaign of prosyletisation, to convert muslims back into the hinduism fold. We know now what a big failure this campaign proved to be. We are unaware of any such mass conversion back to Hinduism in the Kashmir valley.

When the enemy fails to win by conventional means, they resort to these kind of untruths and false propoganda. This just shows their desperation - but history does not lie.

8/23/08

Local news channels in Kashmir banned!

The Indian army today banned all private Kashmiri news channels from broadcasting in Kashmir. This simply underscores our argument that India has no notion of what true democracy and freedom of speech entails, and it simply cherry picks the freedoms Kashmiris can enjoy, while curtailing others which it feels could threaten their grip on the valley. It appears very soon the internet will be their next target.

8/22/08

Rural Kashmiris cannot write! Really?

I would like to take a break for a day from conitnuing my post about analysing the Independence option for Kashmir and talk about myself. My only intention for doing this is to inspire more students who, just like myself, come from government run public schools to not feel at a disadvantage when it comes to writing in English. I hope this helps more Kashmiri writers on the internet to tell their story.

With an MA in English from Kashmir university I am sure my professors would agree that I was paying attention in some of my classes. Although I must confess that my writings here are in no way intended to be scholarly material or worthy of being submitted as an assingnment or homework. Were I to submit any of these posts as class assignments, the professors would waste no time in chucking them into the closest waste basket.

I do, however, intend my writing to inspire students with a background similar to mine, which is that I went to a government run public school. For the most part, it could be considered Urdu medium (but in fact a Kashmiri medium since most of the instructions were in Kashmiri).

My introduction to English came later. I never went to any of the premier schools in Kashmir such as Burn Hall or Biscoe, Greenland or others in Srinagar. There is also a misconception that closer to home, st. Joseph school or the one in Pattan, the Good Shepherd school students have better english skills than the students of government schools. I find this hard to believe because it is upto the students themselves how much of their time they want to invest in learning a new language. English for us is a foreign language and to master it simply requires time and effort on the student's part.

The reason why I am writing all this is that I would like students from rural Kashmir, and others who attend government schools and have taken it for granted that their language skills are inferior to that of other students who attend private run schools of Srinagar or other parts of the valley, to come out of this self-imposed boundary. It is absolutely untrue that rural students are at a disadvantage compared to the Srinagar students when it comes to learning the English language.

If I can do it, so can anyone else, be they from Chattergul or Pakharpoor; Wangat or Trehgam. There is absolutely no reason why us rural Kashmiris cannot face-off in our language skills with students who come out of private run schools like Burn Hall or Biscoe. Some even go as far to say that most of the students who attend these schools come from rich families and have usually been to other parts of India and overseas, and that is why their English skills are much better.

This might be true to some extent, if we only consider spoken English. Yes it might be true that most of us rural Kashmiris would be at a disadvantage in fluently completing our thoughts in English. This should not be held against us since English is not our first language. What I am trying to convey here is that when it comes to written English, the students of private run schools such as Burn Hall and Biscoe, or the Army School, cannot fare better than us government school graduates, and infact we have a level playing field. I have never been outside of the valley, or been on a plane. To be honest, my only visit outside the valley of Kashmir has been a bus-ride to Kargil. Does that mean that my English should be poor? I beleive it doesnt. My knowledge of world events comes from researching these topics from the internet and from scouring books in the libraries. Does having an informed opinion about a subject come only if you have visited that place? I doubt it does. And I believe that I am able to convey my thoughts in English just as a graduate from Burn Hall or Biscoe does.

With this, my only suggestion to my brothers and sisters is to practice, practice, and then practice some more. There is no such thing as a perfect essay or perfect article that suddenly appears out of thin air. For instance this write up will need atleast three or four revisions to iron out the grammatical errors and make it easier to read. If you do not want to take my word for it, then simply save this on your computer and compare it with another version of it two days from now and you will see where I would have made the corrections.

Back to my original topic of independence, and I hope to have it done by later tonight or tomorrow.

A wrong can never be eternal

A wrong can never be eternal

A wise man once said that "Whatever is right can never be impossible; whatever is wrong can never be eternal." This phrase so fittingly describes the quagmire that Kashmiris see themselves in for the past sixty years.

I have been trying to analyse with my limited means, the possible outcomes that we should expect should Kashmiris be granted their wish of holding a referendum. In this section I would like to talk about my favourite option: should a majority of Kashmiris choose to remain independent.

As has been rightly pointed out by many, our biggest challenge would be securing our borders. We would be watching four different fronts, bordering four different countries.

Will continue later.....

8/21/08

Analysing Kashmir's merger with Pakistan

It might seem that my diatribe against a possible choice of Kashmiris to opt for joining Pakistan has been going on for ever. But the end is in sight and I will try my best to conclude this section today. This must come as a welcome news for Pakistan lovers who might be judging my posts as being one sided and unfairly harsh against Pakistan. But please take my word that when I talk about the other two options of either being Independent or joining India, I will be just as critical, if not even more.

We have to be ready to face the consequences of our collective decision, whatever that may be, after the results of the referendum have been declared. Of all the negative scenarios, the option of merging with Pakistan worries me the most. Pakistan had the potential of becoming a role model for all the muslims of the subcontinent; however I would be forgiven to remind us that sadly it has failed all Muslims who sacrificed everything so Pakistan could be brought into existence. Therefore it is upto us Kashmiris to stand up to the podium now and be a role model for the rest of the Muslim states and I am certain we can accomplish what Afghanistan and Pakistan sadly failed to achieve.

As Kashmiris, we have all the ingredients of becoming a successful nation: an intelligent people, good natural resources, and a tourism industry that we can fall back on. Our history might not be as clean as we would have wished for in terms of religious tolerance; however, we fare much better compared to other nations whose histories make grown men cry. Inspite of these differences, these nations have set aside their differences and cooperated to make a success out of their countries. Similarly, as an independent nation, Kashmiris of all relgions and all different sects of Islam would come together and work for its prosperity; what will bind us is our love of Kashmir. We must not let even a shred of religious intolerance creep into our society. Sadly, I do not see that happening should we opt to join Pakistan. As I mentioned earlier, Srinagar is growing in size and very soon we could be compared to large cities such as Karachi or Lahore or even Islamabad.

A big city the size of Karachi would bring with it all the inherent problems that these big cities have to face. Foreign intelligence agents, posing as religious fanatics, and who most often are funded by Israel to sow the seed of discord between religions and between different sects, would make Srinagar their next target to destabilize this region. We will inherit all the problems that come along with being a large city. It might be in Srinagar that I foresee these mischief-makers preaching their doctrine of hate against religious minorites, since rural people are loath to be receptive to these ideals.

Leaving aside religious intolerances that might creep in as a result of us inheriting it from Pakistan, what we should also focus is the effect a merger with Pakistan will have on our economy. Although, for once I am very optimistic in this case. This because Pakistan would open up the whole middle-east to our products. Many point out that it would easier to do business with fellow-muslims than it is to do with Hindus down south. I am not so sure about this reasoning, however, I am convinced that the markets of the middle east would definitely boost our economy which would benefit from lower shipping costs to the rich markets of the whole gulf region. Although this might sound somewhat bigoted, but at some level, Kashmiris on the whole would find it easier working with Pakistanis than they are with Indians. My aim in this blog is to write the truth and I feel this is in fact the truth, although it might not be a very good thing to write about. In the past, this might not have been the case, but the recent events has made Kashmiris very suspicious of Indians and that would be the reason that Kashmiris would find it easier to work with Pakistanis , should it require for us to work together on a project or for commerce.

The preceeding was a rare note of optimism in regards to us joining Pakistan, however, this optimistic view is quickly overshadowed when we consider the affect on our state-subject laws. Would a merger with Pakistan leave us vulnerable to a literal invasion by wealthy "jagirdars" and land tycoons of the Punjab, who will simply offer inflated prices to the rural folk of Kashmir for our agriculture lands. This scenario is very worrisome since after a decision from the plebiscite, and should we opt to join Pakistan, their laws would apply here and according to their laws, there is no land to the tiller act that would protect the farmers. The land-reforms covenant introduced by Sheikh Abdullah in the 1950's will cease to exist. There will be no protection that the article 370 provided us. In that regard, we would certainly find ourselves in a unique position where our Kashmiri identity would be endangered. Ofcourse this analyses takes into account the worst case scenario, and it is quite possible that the Pakistanis would offer some sort of protection should we raise this issue after the plebiscite, however my goal in this post is to present my views on what we could be facing in the future.

We have every reason to be suspicious of Pakistan's intentions. Their political maturity leaves a lot to be desired, and I am not very confident about their steadfastness as a country that would keep their word to Kashmir if we even considered joining them on certain pre-conditions. This suspicion comes from the recent events about the Muzaffarabad road, and yet does anyone know what Pakistan's stand is on the issue of opening the road? I was confided by a very reliable source that during the recent all party meeting held in Pakistan, the issue of opening the Muzaffarabad road came up and the Indian side was in fact ready to discuss the formalities that would have to be fulfilled for making the road available for travelling between the two sides of Kashmir. I was speechless when I was informed that the Pakistani side was adamantly opposed to this idea. More so were the members representing the AJK goverrnment. I am lost for words to comment on such a travesty, if this news is accurate.

After 38 precious Kashmiri lives are lost over this barrier, and then finally we come to know that it's the other side that is unwilling to open their side of the Muzaffarabad road. I will post again to confirm whether this story is accurate but this is from a very reliable source.

It is with this note that I leave for readers to decide whether joining Pakistan would be a good option for us. Needless to say that I have probably only scratched the surface of this proposal. I am looking forward for this to generate a debate where others readers would add more points to this scenario which I must have overlooked or rectify some of my conclusions.

Next I will discuss the issues that we might face should a majority of us opt for remaining and independent nation: and as far as I can tell a majority of Kashmiris, infact, would definitely go this route.

Please check back later tonight or tomorrow....

We have better choices

I will again pick up where I left off last night and would like to request new readers to please read my previous posts below to get an idea of what I was talking about. I am thankful for the many thought provoking comments that have been posted and I will try to incorporate them somehow into the larger picture about what we should expect should Kashmiris opt for any of the possible choices that are presented to them through a referendum.

The issue that I was considering in the last post was whether Kashmiri minorities will feel safe and secure in a Kashmir governed by Pakistan. While pondering over this issue what I felt was that even though there are sectarian clashes in many districts of Pakistan, we should not paint this with a broad brush and stigmatize the whole of Pakistan. There is a whole community of Ismailis living in Hunza who feel safe enough to work in Lahore and Islamabad, while leaving their families back in Hunza. Although, some might argue that the reason why Hunza itself has been saved from sectarian clashes is the fact that there are no other major sects living in Hunza. This region is dominated by the Ismaili community and there is not a large presence of Punjabi Sunni muslims in this region.

While mentioning the sectarian harmony of Hunza, one cannot deny the horrors that other minorities face in the bigger cities of Karachi, and other cities where the religious minorities live in small pockets of these areas and are often targeted by fundamentalists. This is the unfortunate scenario which might replicate itself in Kashmir should the leaders of these fundamentalist parties and organisations have unfettered access to Kashmiri youth.

Opponents to my argument will rightly point out Muzaffarabad and Murree as prime examples where even though they have been ruled by Pakistan, there have not been any serious sectarian clashes in recent history in these regions. While this is true, it should be noted that these regions have smaller populations compared to Srinagar, and smaller towns and villages tend be more closely knit, with a very good community spirit even though the people themselves might be practicing different faiths or belong to a different religious sect than that of their neighbours. People in smaller towns and villages tend to look out for their neighbours and usually have a good brotherhood compared to the city folk. Unfortunately, when we have to make comparisons with other cities of Pakistan, we have to look at the larger ones such as Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore; and sadly it is in these cities that the worst sectarian clashes usually take place.

I will continue talking about the options in yet another future posts, so please check back...

8/20/08

Fear of the unknown

I will pick up where I left off on the previous post and that was where I was mentioning about the fear that minorities in Kashmir would have if a majority of the Kashmiris opted to join Pakistan instead of opting for either Independence or India, should we be given a choice in a future referendum. This fear is valid in my opinion considering the sectarian violence that plagues Pakistan. Pro-Pakistan proponents would be quick to point out the heinous tragedies in the rest of India and would be mentioning the Gujrat massacres even before I have a chance to complete my sentence. I would like to repeat that I am no fan of Indian politics and my reason for pointing the sectarain violence in Pakistan is that I am analysing that scenario and comparing it with the other two options of Independence or India.

There is definitely a possibilty that Kashmir could inherit the sectarian violence, and that would be the final nail in the coffin of religious tolerance in Kashmir. Although, the only way this would be possible is if the fundamentalist forces active in Pakistani politics become active in the valley. There is very little fear of that happening considering that similar parties in Kashmir never really had any success in the past when they started recruiting their cadres or when they tried their stint at coming into the mainstream politics.

I am not considering the Hurriyat in this category. The Hurriyat party is a conglomerate of all different parties and even the most hardline of their members, Mr Geelani, is a moderate by any standards. I may not be a big supporter of Mr. Geelani's pro-Pakistan overtures and his inexplicable admiration of all that Pakistan stands for; however inspite of all this, he has certain qualities that warrant the upmost respect from all Kashmiris and that is his moderate tone in regards to religious tolerance. He never called for violence against the Yatris or reprisals for the muslim killings in Jammu. For that, he has earned the respect of all Kashmiris.

I will continue with this post later today as duty calls....

8/19/08

The way ahead

At this juncture of our movement. It is of upmost importance that we pause and take cognizance of the options that lay before us. We cannot just leap ahead without having full knowledge of the perils that may present themselves. We must not act as naive kids who go for a joy ride after they have found the keys to a car without fully knowing the dangers that are inherent while driving. As I mentioned in my previous post, Kashmiris are no doubt smarter and more knowledgeable at the present time than anytime before. We must not let opportunistic politicians take undue advantage of our sentiments anymore with promises of an overnight disapperance of all our miseries by selling us the idea of either joining Pakistan or India.

The reason why I am mentioning all this is that in my mind there is no doubt that India will succumb to our demands and call for a region wise referendum in Kashmir, where we will be given the three options of remaining Independent, joining Pakistan, or conitunuing to remain with India. I cannot be more certain that India is seriously studying this course of action and is ready to grant this wish to Kashmiris and I see this happening sooner than later.

This is what Kashmiris have all along wished for and we should use this power of steering Kashmir from this quagmire that is 60 years in the making wisely. Not only will this profound decision have immediatte repurcussions, but it will decide the kind of future that we want our future generations to live in. Because we clearly have clear options in front of us about the way we want Kashmir to progress henceforth. We can be part of India or Pakistan, and inherit all their problems; or we can stay aloof from either of the two and maybe develop our own unique set of issues which will be ours own in the making. I would like to analyse the three issues separately and see if my analyses has some weight to it.

First of all let me analyse the issues that we might face should a majority of Kashmiris wish to join Pakistan. Although this scenario is highly implausible considering that only a small minority of Kashmiris in protests actually chant the "Pro-Pakistan" slogans; I have most often witnessed the pro-freedom slogans.

I will not touch on the anti-muslim arguments that hindutva agents mostly use when they try to explain the horrific predicament that Kashmiris will face, were we to become part of Pakistan. They warn us that what lies ahead of us, should Kashmir become a part of Pakistan, is no less than a life of poverty and servitude under the fundamentalist tribal war-lords, who they claim will soon run over Kashmir. This scenario is so far-fetched that it doesnt warrant a careful analysis. I will however talk about the sectarian violence that has plagued Pakistan and which we unforunately might inherit. What I will also touch upon is the land-reforms in Kashmir, whose future might be uncertain should Pakistani laws become applicable here; will we have the same guarantee that article 370 currently provides Kashmiris being a part of India. And finally I will talk about the taboo subject of what happens should the fundamentalist elements in Pakistani politics gain a stronghold in Kashmir.

People might call me biased should I fail to address the fear that minorities in Kashmir have about the prospect of joining Pakistan. Their fears are well warranted and needs a careful examination.

i will continue soon......please check back

Azaadi does not translate to merger with Pakistan

First of all I would like apologise to everyone for my short absence. I had certain chores on my list, such as joining the protest marches, and visiting family in my village after days of curfew. These chores were higher on the priority list than updating my blog. I am thankful to my dear friend and fellow of administrator of the Kashmir Frorum who agreed to publish your comments during my absence.

I am very perplexed with the statements of Mr Geelani about Kashmiris wanting to merge with Pakistan. This statement should alarm everyone who has fought hard all this long for the right of Kashmiris to decide their own future. Last time I checked the Urdu-English dictionary, the word Azaadi meant Independence and not merger with Pakistan. This is another ploy that politicians with a vested interests have always played with Kashmiris. I doubt it will work this time as Kashmiris have wisened up to these tricks.

8/18/08

Black flags mourn the killings of thirty eight unarmed protestor by Indian forces

I decided to save the black flag on a separate post of its own to remind us of the sacrifices of 38 unarmed Kashmiris who were killed by the Indian paramilitary forces on Aug 11 to Aug 14th 2008. These brave men were marching toward Muzaffarabad, to force the Indians to open that road, which links the western part of Kashmir to Srinagar.

8/16/08

Intolerance is not a Kashmiri virtue

If someone were to call Kashmiris intolerant, this label does not stick and comes off like water slides off the lotus leaves. This is because Kashmiris are inherently a good-natured, reasonable and thoughtful people. It is this trustful nature that has been taken undue advantage off by successive invaders right since the Mughal invasion of 1587. Yet we never gave up our tolerant nature, because that is what makes us Kashmiris. We have learnt to adapt to the current circumstances, preserve our heritage, and have become very suspicious of our rulers; but inspite of all this, we never morphed into an intolerant society.

We will debate, argue, and make compelling arguments about why the other side is wrong but deep within us we know that the other person has the right to their beliefs and we feel that it is a part of our culture to protect the other person's right to say and practice what they believe is right for them. I will quote a line from a fellow blogger who once said that in the past when Kashmiris would argue, they would have a heated argument and still at the end of this argument inquire about the well being of the other person and ask him for tea afterwards. This is the same Kashmir that according to the book by Walter Lawrence, had almost a zero percent crime rate when he was stationed here as the Resident Commissioner back in the 1880's. Was this absence of crime rate because Kashmiris did not disagree on issues? I don't think so. It is human nature to disagree on the smallest trivial things. I believe the reason for the absence of crime was that Kashmiris always looked out for their neghbours even though they might disagree with them. The well being and security was a collective responsibilty. This fact just reinforces my conviction that Kashmiris are inherently a very tolerant people who will protect their opponents right to have an opposing viewpoint even if they might bitterly diagree with them.

The reason why I am bringing this up is that every single Kashmiri has a right to their own views - no matter what those views are. The same people who derailed the movement last time might rear their head again in this phase of the protests. I am talking about the people who killed hundreds of National Conference workers - people who were their own Kashmiri brothers. Just because people have opposing political inclinations does not justify them being targeted or harmed in any way. In my opinion, we have to oppose this intolerance with all our might. It does not matter whether a person is pro-India, or belongs to a pro-India party; these people have as much a right to their opinions as any other Kashmiri.

It will do the freedom movement no good if we focus our attention on boycotting or ostracizing pro-India Kashmiris. In every country and every movement, there are always people of the opposition whose political views are awful; but asking people to boycott such persons invites the label of being intolerant of opposing views. Kashmiris should not tarnish their tolerant image by boycotting workers and members of the pro-India parties like the National Conference or the PDP. In this phase of the movement we badly need foreign allies such as the left leaning parties of western nations. If we have to attract these left leaning parties, we have to be very particular about respecting the right of political freedom for every Kashmiri; even though they might be pro-India.

Instead of boycotting members of these parties we should focus our attention on making our voices heard at the international levels and forging alliances with the left leaning parties of these nations. We can do that by emphaiszing our tolerant nature and showcasing our tolerance of opposing viewpoints. If we have to garner world-wide sympathy for our suffering and have to win allies in different parts of the world, we have to learn to accept that there will always be people with opposing views who have every right to practice what they believe is best for them. We have to let the world community know that we acknowledge that a percentage of Kashmiris is infact pro-India, but we have to convince them that a very large majority is in favour of Independence. Further, we have to let them know that the only way we can prove this claim is through a referendum. If we boycott the pro-India parties or should some harm come to the members of these parties, it will do untold damage to the legitimacy of the freedom movement of Kashmir, which will be branded as sprung from forceful hooliganism, which definitely it is not. It is therefore my sincere opinion that each Kashmiri be allowed to practice freely without compulsion their own political views.

8/15/08

When they come for you.

Perhaps some of you must have already guessed the reason why I prefer not using my real identity when writing for this blog, while others must still be wondering what could be the reason behind my decision. The reason why I feel it is unadvisable to post using my real name is simple - fear for my safety. Fear that my family or I might be harmed in some way. The Indian intelligentsia is taking lessons from their new-found buddy: Israel, and everyone in the world knows the infamy of Israelis in dealing with their critics; somehow they all mysteriously tend to die in carbombs. Therefore, I dread that should my real identity somehow become known, I would become part of the statistics of missing persons in Kashmir. More so, I fear what an effect that will have on my family. If you think this scenario is far-fetched, then you are not aware of an organisation called the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, or APDP. Those young people, whose whereabouts are unknown, probably did not toe the line that the colonial masters in Delhi want us to follow, therefore they are part of the most horrific statistics to be part of in Kashmir: the statistics of missing persons. This misfortune is even worse for the families of these brave persons, because they cannot get a decent closure for their profound loss since they are unsure whether their loved ones are presently being tortured in some interrogation center or whether they have already been killed by these paramilitary captors and buried in some of the unmarked mass graves that are being regularly discovered in the valley. Such is the fear in Kashmir of messing with the Indian paramilitary forces, that people like myself wake up every morning and wonder whether we should really be doing this. Whether all this is really worth risking my safety and the wellbeing of my family.

Some mornings I wake up and feel that I should delete every single word on here and just stop writing about the horrors that India is subjecting Kashmiris to. But then, I would be no better than sheep who blindly follow their masters in the direction they point to. Then I realize what I talked about in my earlier post, that this period is in fact the beginning of the end of the darkest period of Kashmir's history. It is the time when we all stand up and say enough is enough. We all have a part to play in this last stage of darkest period in Kashmir's history. We all have our own duty toward Kashmir and it is upto us to perform that. And it is upto us to figure out what our duty is toward Kashmir. No one else but you yourself know how you can contribute to the prosperity of our beloved Kashmir. I found out what my motherland wants me to be doing and hence this blog. Everyone has their work cut out for them by our motherland; you just have to figure out what that is. But do so in a smart way and keep safe; keep one step ahead of the Israeli trained Indian colonisers - enough precious blood of innocent Kashmiris has been drawn by the Indian paramilitary forces.

In a real democracy, I should'nt have to worry that my writing would upset the powers that be. Some commenter pointed out quite accurately the other day that in reality, the Indian democracy is just a facade. Underneath lay the real demon of fanaticism and fundamentalism that is intolerant of dissenting voices. I do not have to prove these allegations; the facts speak for themselves. With more than 5000 missing persons, a thousand unmarked graves discovered, and countless other undiscovered ones, why would anyone still doubt the undemocratic nature of Indian rule? This is my take on India's so-called democracy, today, on their Independence Day.

Click on the following sites to learn learn more about the mass graves and APDP:
1. Resolution by the EU parliament regarding mass graves in Kashmir.
2. Amnesty International report about the mass graves of Kashmir.
3. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) website
4. Press-release by European Parliament regarding mass-graves in Kashmir.

8/14/08

Unreliable internet connection in Kashmir

I apologize for taking too long in approving the comments. The internet connection in Kashmir is very unreliable and I have to wait for my turn at the Iqbal memorial library at the University of Kashmir to get on the internet.

Getting out here in the curfew is also interesting and will make a good topic for next time.

Respect and Honour

Respect and honour are the two most important ingredients missing in India's relations with Kashmir. If anyone has been following the very thought provoking and informative comments by many knowledgeable posters on this blog, you probably would have read about the many possible solutions to the kashmir issue suggested by them. In particular, I would like to spend some time today analysing the hypothetical scenarios presented by Ray and Mike Desai.

Let me first analyse the European model suggested by Ray and present my views on this solution. Here is what Ray had to say about it:

"I think Kashmiris look upon India as an occupying force. Like how Tibetans look upon China. Or like how Kurds look upon Turkey. Or much worse.. like how Palestenians look upon Israel. This is wrong because of two reasons (1) India is not a single culture which speaks a single language - like China or Turkey (2) Indians are prohibited to buy land in Kashmir, unlike Israelis who occupied Palestine and who are still building settlements in the west bank.
The closest comparison to India is the European Union. It has a thousand languages and religions. Don't you see the link ?"

I had written a post sometime ago about a hypothetical scenario where all the countries of the subcontinent would cooperate to form a similar federation in which all the constituent states are equal members of the federation; they are neither superior, nor inferior but equal members in this federation. However, given the current political atmosphere in our respective countries, would this arrangement really be feasable; sadly, I have to confess that it will not.

The reason it will not be feasible and cannot work as it has worked for the EU is that the states making up the European Union had separate referendums and elections in their own countries asking their citizens whether it would be in the best interest of these nations to give up some of their sovereign powers in favour of the larger union. That is the the main difference. The consent of the majority of the electorate of each member state was sought before any sort of union came into being. I remember quite vividly how the people of UK repeatedly voted against giving up their currency in favour of the Euro. That, my friends, is real democracy. How bizzare it would seem if the leaders of UK at the time would unilaterally have agreed to surrender the British Pound in favour of the Euro even though the general British public was against such a decision. There would be a big hue and cry in Britain, with people pouring out on the streets, and this decision would be called undemocratic.

Let me again bring up another hypothetical situation whereby lets say the ruler of an Eastern European country wishes to join the EU; however, let's suppose that an overwhelming majority of the citizens of that country are opposed to such a move. Let's also assume that the leader of this country is a dictatorial monarch and has not been elected by his people, who have been fighting against his rule for generations. This monarch unilaterally signs away his country to the EU and expects the world to legitimize his accession; however, the UN demands that the wishes of the people of this country trump any other consideration, and accordingly a referendum be held. Now, will the EU be morally correct to hold on to this country as a member despite all this? Would it not be legally and morally imperative that EU hold a referendum asking the people of this country whether they want to continue to be part of this federation? I doubt it will ever come to this, since the EU is based on sound principles of democracy and would never accept a unilateral accession by a dictator. This is the difference between a real democracy and a shameful 'democracy-lite' that India is.

I still feel that the EU model is the best possibility for all the countries of the subcontinent to come out this rut of mutual hatred and animosity. But the agressiveness and bullying by India has to come to an end. You cannot herd up all small neighbouring countries to makeup a larger country of your own even though they are not interested to join you. Where does that stop then? Next India would be eyeing Nepal, Bhutan, and Srilanka and using the same argument of "We are a multi-lingual, multi-cultural counrty, so you better let us swallow you; too bad you dont have a choice". India has to learn to practice democracy in spirit. Merely calling oneself a democratic country doesnt make one so.

Would it not be a better option to have a federation where all nations cooperate on mutually agreed terms. No coersion is needed and the consent of 3/4 ths of the electorate of each member state is needed to form this federation. Let us emulate the EU model both in spirit and in practice and maybe even ask for help from them in making this happen. But first, India has to grant Kashmir its independence so that there is a transition period in which we can heal from years of oppressive regimes. After that, if the majority of Kashmiris and Indians wish so, we can still cooperate to form an EU type federation of independent nations.

Which brings me Mike Desai's comment on the possible solution whereby the state of J&K as it stands now, is divided into three regions. Here is what Mike Desai had to say:
"Well, from the standpoint of an Indian from Delhi, I think the best solution would be to give UT Status to Ladhak, Full Statehood to Jammu and to LET THE VALLEY GO ITS OWN WAY....be it azadi/independence....I think we've had enough of each other. Time to split, neither cordially nor bitterly!"
In a later post he mentions that in reality he feels that this might not be the real outcome, but I will analyse this possible sceanrio a bit further.

It is quite evident from the events of the past few weeks that Jammu doesn not want anything to do with Kashmir. They would rather be on their own as a separate state of India. I have nothing against such a wish and wish them well. Same can be said about the people of Ladakh who feel that their interests are best served as a separate state or union territory of India. Again they only know what is best for them and all the best to them as well. Now, how hypocritical would it be for freedom loving people of Kashmir to hold on to these regions against their wishes. It is clear that should Kashmir ever become independent and by some fluke or by some act of the UN, were we to come into possession of all the regions as the state did in 1947; which included all the Northern regions, Gilgit, Hunza, Ladakh, Jammu and Muzaffarabad; without a doubt, the regions of Jammu and Ladakh would erupt with calls of Independence from Kashmir. How hypocritical will it be for freedom fighters of Kashmir to ignore these calls and it would be against the conscience of all freedom loving people to deny these people a right to decide their own fate. It is by fluke and by accident that these regions have coalesed to form the state known as jammu and Kashmir and without a doubt I can say that the people of Kashmir would be willing to grant these regions a referendum to secede from an independent Kashmir. In that regard, we will not be compared to the hypocritical freedom fighters of India who perpetrated the same attrocities on Kashmiris that they accused the Britishers of.

After the regions of Jammu and Ladakh have separated from the state, what will be left is the Vale of Kashmir, Kargil, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, Uri, Muzaffarbad, Gilgit, and Hunza. These areas will join and form the nation known as Kashmir and if India and Pakistan are willing to act responsibly as good neighbours; there is no reason why all of us should not prosper together.

8/13/08

Kashmiri bloggers are the true voice of Kashmir

I have mentioned earlier about Omar Abdullah's blog and how he has sadly quit blogging. I will be closely following another young politician, Tanvir Sadiq, of the National Conference and his blog http://kashmirleader.blogspot.com/. He happens to head the cyber cell of the National Conference, and is an elected municipal corporator of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. I have had many a heated (but civilized) online arguments with him about the Kashmir issue as well as the dilapidated condition of Srinagar's civic services. We can only improve our conditions here if those incharge are made aware of the shortcomings.

The reason I am posting all these links to Kashmiri blogggers is that this is the only medium to gain international attention to our problems, and we can do so uncensored, unlike the traditional media, who are prohibited from publishing content which can be deemed a threat to the propaganda interest of India. Therefore, the print and other media in Kashmir are very restrained in what they can publish. Atleast us bloggers do not have to worry. That is why I encourage other Kashmiris to start blogging and make their voices hear no matter what their political inclinations are. The more dialogue we have, the better. As long as we gain the attention of the world consciousness, and bring our plight to their attention. Even if that takes time to materialize, but at least we can reach a consensus and make hollow of India's argument that Kashmir is their internal issue or their most absurd claim that Kashmir is an integral part of india; as if the UN resolutions were never passed! or that the UN forces present in Kashmir are here only for an extended vacation.

Therefore I urge Kashmiris of all backgrounds and political views to start writing on the internet. It does not matter what your political views are - everyone wants to know what that view is. No matter if you are pro-India, Pro-Pakistan or Pro-Independence, just make your views heard and send me a link I will be glad to post a link to your blog.

Here is the link to the current roster of Kashmiri bloggers.

The Beginning of the End

I personally think that the current phase of the protests are the beginning of the end of the most tumultuos period of Kashmir's history. I hope I am correct; because if not, then the worse has yet to come.

As with every colonial power, India tried to deprive Kashmiris of learning about their past, to Indianize us. I guess they took lessons from colonial powers and their former masters, the British, about how to colonize and integrate a hostile occupied nation into their cultural fold. That is why you hear about the lost languages and cultural heritage of the native Americans or native Canadians or even native Australians who were forcibly integrated into the Colonizers way of life. They succeeded this by imposing the language and culture of the colonizers and depriving the natives of learning about their own history and roots. Looks like the Hindutva hawks in the Indian administration had taken early lessons from their British masters and were using the same techniques on Kashmiris.

We are not taught Kashmiri history in schools. I am not exaggerating; there is absolutely no mention of our rich history in our primary schools. A 10th class student in Kashmir is well versed in Indian history and could be well aware of the history of other states such as Shivaji of Maharashtra, or some kings who ruled India at different times. Howeverr, there is only one problem; and that is that these Indian kings never ruled Kashmir! We have our own rich history which parallels the historical events south of the Banihal tunnel.

A Kashmiri student never gets to learn about the golden age of Kashmir under King Badshsah. Or the part of the events that shaped our own culture, such as the arrival of Shahi Hamdan and his teachings, or the arrival of artisans from central and west asia who brought with them the trades for which Kashmir is so famous for. These events of grave cultural significance should be taught in Kashmir schools; and most certainly would have been, had the colonial masters in Delhi permitted it to be taught. But does anyone still doubt that they wanted every last shred of evidence that Kashmir has been an independent nation for much of its past history erased from the memory of Kashmiris?

The same secondary school student will also be aware of the Indian freedom movement against the British Raj in India. How peculiar is the fact that about the same time from 1931 to 1947, there was an important freedom movement led by Sheikh Abdullah against the Dogra despotic rule taking place in Kashmir. Which one is of more importance for the Kashmiri student to learn? I guess the answer is quite evident depending on whether you are a Kashmiri or a Hinutva agent.

The reason why this is the beginning of the end is that India has failed miserably in their own attempt at colonizing and assimilating us into Indian society. Kashmiris are smarter and more resilient than what the hindutva agents would like us to be.

The Indians have failed at capitalizing the sympathy of persons like myself who have a soft corner for India and yet are turned away now because of the barbarity they have shown time and again. Kashmir, Pakistan, and India could have been role models for the world to emulate by our mutual respect of one another and cooperating for each other's benefits. But time can be a good witness that a colonial attitude by an aggressive nation does not solve any problems.

It is for this reason I brought up just one instance of India's colonial attitude in Kashmir by them propogating their own historical education at the cost of Kashmir's. The reason this tactic has failed is that in Kashmir we have a strong sense of preserving our cultural heritage. Subsequent occupation and mistreatment has made us a resilient people who will never be subjugated or run over by another culture.

8/12/08

When lives are extinguished and the guilty hide behind lies

Today the local media is reporting that around thirty precious lives have been lost so far in the crackdown by Indian security forces on unarmed Kashmiri protestors. Many in the Indian media are hiding behind this crime by claiming that the Kashmir police is responsible for this state terror by India. This is an absolute lie and even the international media has bought into this con by the Indian media. The Indians are claiming that the police are responsible and, while this is accurate; however, they fail to explain that when they mention the police they are refering to the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). This is the dreaded Indian paramilitary police force that is part of the 700,000 troops that India has stationed in Kashmir and this force is not controlled by the Kashmir government.

This same CRPF was responsible for shooting dead five innocent unarmed protestors in June of this years and has been blamed for scores of other deaths of innocent Kashmiris in the past.

I wonder whether the murderers of these thirty protestors will ever face the justice? or will they be treated as heroes as all other previous Indian paramilitary personnell have been for similar crimes in the past?

8/11/08

Berlin Wall of the East

The unprecedented brutality unleashed by Indian paramiltary troops on unarmed Kashmiri protestors marching towards Muzaffarabad defies all logic. This is the barbaric face of the India's rule in Kashmir and makes me ashamed of calling myself a proponent of autonomy instead of Independence for Kashmir.

Five people have been confirmed killed uptil now and only time will tell how many more innocent lives will be lost in this phase of the protests. India is guilty as charged of oppression and naked aggression by shooting dead five peacefful protestors including a hurriyat leader, and nothing will justify this action.

There can be no 'if' 'and' or 'but' for the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians protesting against the blockade by fundamentalists in Jammu.

India should be ashamed of itself.

Omar Abdullah

This post is going to be about Omar Abdullah, and that is why there isnt another fancy title for this post other than his name because he's all I will be talking about here today.

The reason I chose to discuss Omar is that it appears fanatics have succeeded in silencing him by making him quit blogging (his blog). I will try to explain why this is a defeat for all Kashmiris who looked upto him for inspiration. Therefore I will devote todays post to discussing Omar, even though there are more pressing issues at hand to be writing about today such as the blockade by Jammu fanatics or the determined effort by Kashmiris to breach the Indian Army check post between our Valley and our sister-town of Muzaffarabad in AJK. I will definitely be writing about these issues tomorrow so please check back.

Omar would be justified in getting frustrated by the endless barrage of non-sensical comments that arrive daily. I can tell from personal experience. My blog cannot compare with the high-profile blog of Omar, and yet I recieve nasty comments almost daily which I dont even think about twice after they have been deleted. Just a few moments ago I deleted an obscene remark from the Kashmir Forum.

I will be honest enough to confess that even though I have been following Omar's career for the past decade, up until recently, I was convinced that he is just another opportunistic Indian politician; in there because he was unable to find other gainful employment. And in India, politics is the easiest 'get rich quickly' plan one could think of. What changed my perception of Omar was his blog, (and later on his interviews and speeches). But out of all, his blog left a lasting impression because I believe that the way one writes speaks volumes about a person and is a reflection of the person's character and convictions.

Leaders are there to inspire their followers by their actions and deeds. If Kashmiris were to follow Omar's actions, should we all just give up because the bullies keep harassing us? I am unable to point to another contemporary leader in Kashmir who would match Omar's calibre. Omar is a thorough gentleman. I am not a sychophant or someone seeking a mandate! Heck no one even knows my real identity because I go by the name 'Koshur'. It sounds like a cliche now, but Kashmiris have always been subdued by their rulers to suppress their voices and the reason why I mention this now is that the same forces have succeeded in silencing Omar. Omar's blog gave a real chance for Kashmiris to interact with their leader which otherwise would be almost impossible. I am also not exaggerating when I say that the wealth of information through his posts and from comments from his readers is unmatched.

It is therefore with sadness that I accept the fact that Omar will not be blogging anymore.

8/8/08

Misplaced Priorities

There is no shortage of ideas in Kashmir about how to improve our civic amenities and it would seem that almost everyone, including your's truly, keep coming up with innovative solutions to the countless problems we face here. Although these solutions, seeing that they are conceived in a person's head, unfortunately remain safe and secure in the person's head - seemingly forever, because there is no such thing as a public discourse in Kashmir and all rules and regulations about a particular issue are always thrust upon the public without any such thing as getting feedback from them. But I would be forgiven for mentioning that on the whole, when it comes to improving our civic amenities, it appears we are more talk and little action.

Let me summarize the few problems we as Kashmiris commonly face today and see if my conclusions about these problems is accurate enough. For starters let me talk about our method of garbage disposal.

There is not a single more pressing issue in Kashmir that would make us appear as backward and an unhygienic people than the way we handle our garbage. We pride ourselves on Kashmir being considered as a prime tourist spot. We feel elated when our little land-locked valley is referred to as the 'Switzerland of the east'. We always wish that hundreds of thousands tourists would visit our valley to boost our economy. I am sure, with improved security, millions of tourists would oblige our invitation and visit our 'Paradise on Earth'; but for what? Just so they are inundated with the sight of heaps of stinking rotting garbage with hundreds of stray dogs feasting over them?

A simple analogy would be that you are inviting all your neighbous to come over to your house, and the neighbours are all excited and are expecting a neat and tidy house, seeing that you have gone out of your way to invite them, but how odd it would seem if your house is filthy and stinking? I hope you get my point.

For one thing, I cannot understand why the municipality is unable to collect garbage outside each home in garbage bags like the rest of the civilized world does? Why does it encourage the habit of people making heaps of garbage where the municipality finally picks it up then. If someone knows the answer to these, then please enlighten me and others who read this.

I will continue this diatribe later...