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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Kashmir Dispute has become National Ego for India & Pakistan (Guest Post)

Sardar Wajid Ali, Age 27, was born in Dothan, Poonch district in Pakistan administered Kashmir. He was educated at the Government Boys College, Dothan. Don F.Sc. Pre-Engineering from Muhammadan Science and Computer College (MSCC) Hajira Poonch, B.Com from Karachi University & MBA from University of Central Punjab Lahore. Worked for Toyota in Pakistan in Management since 2005-2008 got excellent management award, and now working as Business Manager with a group of Locals in U.A.E Abu Dhabi named as (FBGC & SBF) dealing in Construction Sector, Manufacturing & Trading. Associated with Jammu and Kashmir National Association of UAE as Media Coordinator & Administrator of Kashmir Cornor JKNA online Discussion Forum. {Kashmiris Connected and Organized for Reconciliation of National Oriented Reprisal} that networks with other Kashmiris

Here's his article:

Any conflict or combat is a product of any species of violence which starts when there is no purity in acts whereas purification and decontamination of acts matters a lot for peaceful consequences. The State of Jammu & Kashmir is the most tinted and highlighted state amongst South Asian Region because of its disputed eminence, and of course because of ambiguity, obscurity, unimportance and triviality of national right that is being unresponsive and uncaring indeed by all means from the state's oppressors since six decades.

The State of Jammu & Kashmir is amongst those 562 princely states of sub-continent that have five thousand years of history background as independent, progressive and prosperous status with its multi-dimensional cultural heritage. The culture that maintains its incessant flow dismantling the man-made barriers between past and present. The state was well known by its harmony, unison and relationship of masses having different religious background under one territory before its dissection. Over the divider of sub-continent in 1947, the state has to suffer an unscrupulous expedition since the divider of sub-continent till date, and may be in forthcoming years there will be continuity in this sort of injustice oppression because there is an absence & lack in serious coordination towards serious negotiation counter from two of the Nuclear powers India & Pakistan possessing this unfair oppression where the state victims want to get rid of this merciless behaviors of both countries.

Pakistan stand on Kashmir is purely based on Two Nation Theory depicted as "because of 77% of the state population consists of Muslims in majority" so justification matters for Pakistan that, state need to be part of Pakistan, which is not reliable and authentic stand indeed because state is having different religions like Muslims, Buddhist & Hindus as major religions and also the subdivision exist like (Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis, Sikhs etc.) so the Pakistan stand on Kashmir is not having any authenticity and also flaw of this justification automatically appears because Two Nation Theory only functional for those areas of sub-continent then straight under British rule and did not applied any of the semi-independent princely states like Kashmir. Indian justification for Kashmir is based on the right that was given to the rulers of 562 Princely states of Sub-Continent to choose about the future of these states and the ruler of Kashmir has got about the accession of his state to India so Kashmir is the fundamental and legal part of the India which is also not possible because Kashmir is not a commodity that is for sale or for any bartered but it is an individual's existence part where all people have their fundamental & equal right to choose their future through a plebiscite which is expressed in many of the talks by then Government Officials of both countries at many occasions during their perspective speeches (Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in June 7, 1947, July 11, 1947, July 30, 1947. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru in July 9, 1951. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in July 14,1972 and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in 1992) mentioned that it is the right of Kashmiri people either they want to be a part of India, Pakistan or want to live Independently as Kashmir has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future. but behind the scene it is not so easy because the fight for Kashmir region has become the national ego for both India and Pakistan and no one is ready to get off through any means of dialogue consideration because both countries have no focus for the prosperity and well-being of Kashmiri people but only holding a resource oriented approach that is just to annihilating & demolishing the basic ideology and right to self-determination and destroying the overall peace of South Asian Region with this non-serious attitude.

As I have cited earlier that the peaceful & non-violent consequences cannot be practiced and implemented until and unless these two nuclear powers will not take the Kashmir conflict for the well-being of Kashmiri people rather than resources oriented approach. It is the matter of fact that both countries have their own mutual interests in this region in the shape of (Water) as {Indus Valley has major 7 Rivers and many small rivers are fertilizing the lands of Pakistan and India since water treaty agreement between India and Pakistan} as major and more that no one can ignore or overlook and ultimately both countries have turned the Kashmir conflict as National Security & Ideology by overlooking the people of Jammu & Kashmir and lead to relate this conflict to their national ego by spending very huge amounts to security matters and ignoring other essentials.

When India put the Kashmir case in United Nations in 1948, the resolutions of United Nations Security Council as {38, 39, 47 and 51 of 1948} and United Nations Commission for India & Pakistan (UNCIP) resolutions of {August 13, 1948} has evidently professed the State of Jammu & Kashmir as disputed region and anticipated its final decision and settlement through free, fair & unbiased plebiscite under the supervision of United Nations and prominently declaring the right to self-determination for Kashmiri People that was violated and still in the process of violation across LOC in the state of Jammu & Kashmir by strictly ignoring the free choice of plebiscite for masses and by implementing the accession as essential and legal procedure by both Indian & Pakistani constitutional assemblies like {Azad Jammu & Kashmir Interim Constitution Act 1974 that was imposed by Islamabad}, itself a disregard and contravene to the same act which starts as "WHEREAS the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is yet to be determined in accordance with the freely expressed will of the people of the State through the democratic method of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as envisaged in the UNCIP Resolutions adopted from time to time" and in the same Constitutional Act it is mentioned in Article 4 (7) (2) of the Act 1974 states that “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan.” This is at one side itself a disregard of this Constitutional Act and the other side a straight violation of human fundamental rights.

During Musharraf & Vajpayee's regimes a ray of hope was created when a bilateral efforts had taken to build and promote bilateral relationship between both countries through Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) like starting direct bus service across LOC, Promoting mutual relationships between both countries, opening negotiation counters for each other, concentrating to promote trade, Opening ways for mass communication sectors, Promoting sports, musical and cultural environment that was clogged later on because of may be Musharraf dictatorship was not got supported by masses in Pakistan and collapsed soon that has led the Kashmir dispute at same level where it was in earlier time without any concrete outcome and proper implications regardless of a looming emphasis. This regime at least worked a bit realistic as compared to previous ones and no doubt the positive smooth acceleration of relationship may only practice through Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

It is also a matter of fact that no one from both of India & Pakistan will set back easily from this disputed region because it will questioned and hurt their National Integrity, Mutual interests in the state, Loss of resources and particularly a political dilemma that caught the international attention that has become National Ego for both of them now. Spending a major portion of their budgets on security matters and shaking their economic structures is a sign of their National Ego regardless of the people oriented approach or any prosperity or progressive measures for the masses of Jammu & Kashmir State.

Another blemish and blotch approach has to be seen in the recent Elections held in AJK part during current era of 2011 which is another prejudice & bigotry when non-state political parties has took part in elections by hook and crook methodology through their few projected state elements with the help of heavy amounts in the territory of Kashmir which is a status quo and none of the political party have right to purchase land or to participate in any election campaign in disputed territories around the globe which is the straight violation of the laws relating to the status quo areas and Kashmir was declared disputed by the United Nations in 1948 and both India and Pakistan agreed to give Kashmiri people a chance to determine their political future through free and fair plebiscite under the UN patronage without positioning their own adoptions in this disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

Karachi pact 28th of April 1949 is another reflection of illegal occupancy where Pakistani Establishment has enjoyed their titular power in Northern areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Hunza by taking it directly under Islamabad without relating it to Azad Jammu & Kashmir Interim Constitutional Act and this region is five times the size of the area designated as Azad Kashmir consisting a territory of 72,971 km2 in real that is so injustice and discriminated behavior , big hurdle for masses relationships, traditions, creating destruction in the communication process and detracting masses from both regions of Azad Kashmir & Gilgit Baltistan(AK & GB) to demolish their history backgrounds, whereas Line of control (LOC) is a drastic division that has snatched the overall peace and calm across the border. So in real scenario we cannot say that there will be some sort of peaceful consequences and measurements from both sides of LOC without pure judgmental behaviors and without implementation of United Nations Resolutions on Kashmir dispute where it is clearly mentioned that Kashmir dispute must be resolved with the choice of Kashmiri people otherwise in the prospective of Islamabad & Dheli both are badly failed to protect the Kashmir cause at its genuine identity and just relating it to their National Ego which is clearly seen & realized in current situation.

The other side of Line of Control (LOC), the sacrifices rendered by Kashmiri people have proved it clearly that there is no other option that can be practice regardless of implementation of free, fair and unbiased plebiscite and referendum rather than any maltreatment and abuse, discriminate, forged or planted one elements. So relating the Kashmir Cause towards National Integrity is actually the National Ago for both Indian & Pakistani Governments which has no means with Kashmiri People and both countries must need to understand and respect the fundamental human rights not for the sake of National Ego or any resource oriented approach but for the sake of mankind and for the better perspective of humanity.

Writer's email:

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Yet more resistance on 'Election Day' in Kotli



(As they've captioned it)
Kotli June 26, 2011 : Workers of JKLF Protesting Against Fraud elections in POK

Friday, 10 June 2011

Indigenous narratives

Indigenous narratives are key to the solution of Kashmir. They can't emerge without media space though I wouldn't discount facebook and others.

One has constantly decried the obvious lack of space for indigenous narratives to emerge throughout the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. In a month when election mania is slowly but surely gathering pace on this side of the LoC, that space is further squeezed to enable competing candidates to publicise their personalities in a bid to (re)elect themselves for the AJK Legislative Assembly that throughout it's five year term, is hardly going to be doing any legislating.

The parallel and actual centre of power at the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in the shape of its Kashmir Council will ensure that.

In the six years that one has spent here and having spoken to thousands of voters in the process, the opinion is almost unequivocal that most candidates are fooling the public and there is little that the public can do to address this dilemma. This is not to suggest that amongst the many who vote do not have a rational basis for voting and it certainly doesn't mean that the public do not believe in the democratic process. They simply feel powerless and committed to participate at one and the same time.

The manner in which society and socio-political structures have developed since 1947 ensured that 'might is right' as opposed to 'people's right' was deeply etched in the psyche of the people here. Coupled with the air of unaccountability that permeated each and every public institution, the sincere activist always had his or her working space throttled at birth. Change if any, was and is assumed to come from the top and that when a highly courageous and sincere individual would emerge with the leadership qualities that every citizen could take inspiration from. It's an all-together separate matter that the system as well as the psyche developed amongst the people would ensure that no such person could ever emerge.

It is evident that there has been no paucity of bright sparks that have tried all out to change the prevailing scenario. There have even been political leaders untainted by corruption emerging at the helm of affairs. Nevertheless-be it a politician or activist–developing consensus in an organisational format with the necessary clout to out-manoeuvre opponents hasn't transpired. They were either outwitted, marginalised or came up against a torrent whose ferocity was simply unbearable.

Thus, when analysing how such a society in such a dire predicament can progress and partake in the challenges of the modern era, one has to begin by imagining how the dominating sense of public despondency can be overcome. In this sixty-four year journey, many a false prophet has also emerged which only adds to the herculean effort that is required. Identifying the basic parameters based on which society can develop a common reference point is fundamental to this task. In one's work on civil society development, certain common features dominated the concerns of most people that sincerely demand change.

The first is a clear sense of feeling in limbo. The public understands that they live in a disputed territory contested by two neighbours distinct from each other by religion (at least that's the pervading sense). They understand that their own sentiments or aspirations are severely curtailed by this externally contrived structure. Thus, an outstanding national question exists and the public realises that elections do not address that most basic of parameters related to their existence. Many also recognise the extremely limited space that candidates have for expressing their views on the Kashmir Issue. It is abundantly clear to most that whatever has been spent in the name of Kashmir has been a front to line private pockets. In fact, many a candidate has expressed such opinion.

The second parameter or set of parameters relate to requirements of 'good governance'. Much of the public senses that with most matters of governance in the hands of Pakistan's Kashmir Council, there is little that their candidate can do to address or formulate structures that make governance deliverable, transparent or accountable. They understand that their candidate can be a voice for their baradari (caste), that their representative must not on any account be defeated by a competing baradari. The public recognises that what arrives in the shape of funds for their constituency could possibly translate into a metalled road leading to their village or an electricity pole or two. Their political leader will stand up for them at the local police station, may support their version of a land/property dispute, may even get their off-spring into a teaching job, poorer elements of society may even be happy with potable water; in the shape of expenses or otherwise.

Despite no meaningful institutional participation of the citizens in the political process known as the AJK Legislative Assembly Elections and having said as much, it could still be described as a participatory democracy, though still in it's elementary stages of evolution. The participation of citizens is dependent on party patronage, upholding on certain views including the unstinting commitment to Kashmir's accession to Pakistan (which itself opens up a whole stack of canned worms) and various other pre-conditions which limit the diversity of view that can be expressed in public. The local media, traditionally boisterous whenever election campaigning is in full swing, is also a party to that restriction at a point in time when it should be most lucid.

Though nationalists have adapted somewhat in their strategy to increase the diversity of public opinion, they are still extremely limited in efficacy on all fronts. There has always been a tendency for sympathisers of India's role in the world to be measured in terms of how it affects Pakistan. Views of India and Pakistan for that matter are very touchy subjects and not much expressed by Kashmiri public intellectual opinion. Something that is rather a shame considering Kashmiri public opinion needs to assert and 'enforce' it's multiplicity of views and help assist Indian and Pakistani public opinion. The public of AJK have yet to embark on a sustained launch for a 24-hour news channel that can air their views in a balanced way, enabling AJK public opinion to crystallise and transform into civil society institutions. That's the overseas Kashmiris, particularly those living in Britain that I'm referring to. A local private channel judging from form, may well be compromised in how it could operate.

Indigenous narratives are key to the solution of Kashmir. They can't emerge without media space though I wouldn't discount facebook and others. Pakistani private TV channels should have obliged in sharing that space but it's likely a bit too much to ask from a nation that has much more important issues on it's plate. India would probably argue in a similar fashion or at least the excuse could be similar. As for the rest of the globe, that's another herculean task some shoulders somewhere need to bear.

Like all challenges historic and contemporary, there are stages involved in realising a dream

...

The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at sahaafi@gmail.com

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 10th of June 2011

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Of nationalists and loyalists


...as we try and forge ahead in this conflict-ridden region with limited civil space and access to our resources, further handicapped by India and Pakistan's insistence on a top-down approach: will the current generation succumb to 'might is right' (even though it evidently doesn't have any answers) or will they be able to conjure up creative solutions to assert 'people's right' and break the impasse that an under-reported dichotomy of nationalists and loyalists has delivered thus far?

In an effort to crystalise views and thoughts that widely differ within and across regions of the erstwhile Dogra State of Jammu and kashmir, it could be useful - though not immune from controversy - to apply a binary distinction to the citizens residing in this disputed territory viz. nationalists and loyalists.

A recent two-day conference in Muzaffarabad magnanimously entitled, "International Conference on Kashmir in Emerging Global Perspectives" was an opportunity to assess whether the primary stakeholders in the (Kashmir) issue, namely the citizens of the territory as well as the secondary stakeholders, namely the governments and citizens of India and Pakistan; were gradually moving towards what could be generally termed as a concrete resolution. After all, most opinion and commentary irrespective of it's origin, is unanimous in stating that the resolution of Kashmir holds the key to socio-economic development, peace and security in the region.

Perhaps the foremost indicator of whether real progress in the resolution discourse is emerging is to ascertain whether or not a traditional 'top-down' approach adopted by India and Pakistan (thereby acting as primary rather than secondary stakeholders) has given way to a 'bottom-up' approach whereby the primary stakeholders have the necessary democratic space and access to resources to devise that sustainable yet elusive solution. Judging from the proceedings at AJK University and other events emerging this week i.e the detention of Gautam Navlakha at Srinagar Airport and India's distaste for The Economist's mapping of the region, the answer is contended to be an emphatic 'NO'.

A continuation of a top-down approach that simultaneously marginalises nationalists and rewards loyalists is a tactic that may make enduring rational sense to the conflicting economic and security concerns of India and Pakistan. However, it is an approach  consistently yet unfruitfully repeated since the 1930's a la Muslim Conference/Muslim League and National Conference/Congress, albeit now with a larger variety of agents. Whether it can endure in an age of open information and the high moral ground of peaceful resistance is a test that is yet in it's infancy.

Despite the grand scale and expense of the conference in Muzaffarabad and it's blessings from the powers-that-be in India and Pakistan, notable for their absence were representatives from Gilgit Baltistan who don't necessarily see themselves as a part of kashmir but certainly consider themselves to be a part of the Kashmir Issue. The essence of free academic thought should have ensured their involvement. A sole representative from Ladakh and the absence of representatives from Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri amongst others, added to the academic injustice. The exclusion of nationalists in AJK including some who were dissuaded from attending and presenting papers to the conference, further points to a 'controlled environment'.

Nevertheless, despite the persistent 'top-down' approach to conflict resolution and the lack of comprehensive representation of all affected areas, the exercise was by no means futile. Much as the CBM's between India and Pakistan have induced limited travel and trade across the LOC, it would be wholly wrong to outrightly condemn them for their restrictive structure, as at least some citizens have benefitted who hitherto had no recourse. Likewise, though many aspects of this Kashmir Conference were limiting, it was considerably more than what had taken place for most of these past sixty-four years. Essentially, measures conducted so far by India and Pakistan have to be judged in a relative sense. Being absolute would undoubtedly frustrate us in the manner of previous generations.

The idea of cross-LOC interaction including journalists, academics and members of civil society from Delhi (as well as Kashmiris from the diaspora) in an academic environment in Muzaffarabad, may have been unthinkable some years ago. It could even be termed as a precursor to the possibility of Kashmir providing the venue for free, open political space for Indians and Pakistanis. A space restricted in India and Pakistan by their conflicting national interests. For those who've recommended Kashmir to be a bridge between India and Pakistan, one cannot think of a more effective means of realising that aspiration. Indeed, witnessing the exuberance of cross-LOC interaction from close quarters at this forum led one to imagine that anything was possible.     

Aside from these rare conferences and one must appreciate the selectivity involved in such exercises, there is scant opportunity for interaction between the primary stakeholders of the Kashmir issue. Just as stone-pelting has been considered to be a reactionary tactic to the lack of democratic/civil space for the Valleyites, ocassional verbal abuse of Pakistani State machinery on this side of the LOC is a reaction to the exclusion of meaningful political expression. A protest outside AJK University a day before the two-day conference was an example of that.

Meanwhile, in spite of the diverse viewpoints and multiple narratives that emerged from the conference, including those views that were allegedly sponsored; there was a definite strand in almost all conversations that a lack of independent thought existed. There was also an indication by some that the prevailing socio-economic structure (either side of the LOC) stifled people's natural as well as national instincts. The inability of India and Pakistan over the years to engage with independent minded people throughout the territory further restricts the scope needed to find a sustainable solution. It was clear that bilateralism buttressed by loyalists wasn't going to take us in that direction.

In the closing ceremony of the conference, one was desperate to analyse what sort of follow-up would ensue. Would there be an acceptance of greater and unfettered intra-Kashmir dialogue? Would there be a new understanding and empathy for the people that have suffered due to India and Pakistan's stated economic and security concerns? Or will intransigence persist? Hearing the AJK President Zulqarnain reminiscing about his childhood visiting Jammu and Srinagar and his lamentation over not having the opportunity to re-visit since 1947, seemed to prise out the emotional bond that binds people of the erstwhile State and hovers way above the slogan of 'kashmir banega Pakistan' (Kashmir will become Pakistan). His intention to further the plea of introducing a smart (identity) card for citizens throughout the State to enable them hassle-free cross-LOC movement with a similar document for vehicles, seemed genuine and full of promise. He re-iterated that he would put this heart-felt suggestion to the Government of Pakistan and hoped that his counterparts on the other side of the LOC would make a similar suggestion to the government of India. His impassioned plea could not have been expressed better by a nationalist, one thought.

Finally, as we try and forge ahead in this conflict-ridden region with limited civil space and access to our resources, further handicapped by India and Pakistan's insistence on a top-down approach: will the current generation succumb to 'might is right' (even though it evidently doesn't have any answers) or will they be able to conjure up creative solutions to assert 'people's right' and break the impasse that an under-reported dichotomy of nationalists and loyalists has delivered thus far?

...


The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at sahaafi@gmail.com

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 1st of June 2011

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