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Monday, January 20, 2014

A sunny day

Diary of 19th January:

The makeshift surroundings for work are colourful to say the least with hundreds of DVD covers promoting

everything from Bollywood to Kollywood (yes I've just coined that phrase for Kashmir's almost non-existent film industry). However, it's so cold that my fingers are going numb even while I type. I have to constantly stretch them to avoid the worst. It's also a race against time for translating this book by Tuesday and undoubtedly I mourn my inability to give this job as much attention in the past couple of months as it warranted.

It gets fabulous at 2am when my net service is blocked for not paying my monthly due which was yesterday viz. the 18th of the month. I owe the PTCL Evo guys in Kotli 1150 from last month (very kind of them) and from this month the rate is to be discounted to 1500 from 3000 which I've been paying for the last year (minus a few months in between when I was deprived of the service for want of money to pay for it). There's no consolation in reminding myself where this 2650 Pakistani rupees is going to come from. The net service is lousy in any case (sometimes can't even open the infamous google search page) but it's damn well the best mobile net service available.

By 4am the cold is intolerable and I make a dash for Kashmir - One Secretariat's office where I know I won't die from frostbite.

I'm up at ten with the book deadline on my mind and Matloob Gora anxious to sell a few DVDs but can't because I have the keys to his shop.

The sun is in good form today but the electricity output is unsurprisingly abysmal. I calculate that from 6am to 8:30pm the public of Khuiratta enjoyed a mere 2 hours of electricity. Hours if you're interested were 11am to 12pm and 4pm to 5pm. I should add that the repaired transmitter promised to me by the Head of the Electricity Department in Kotli yesterday (over the phone) hasn't arrived. The public is now mocking me. I shall be having words with the Sardar of Nikyal tomorrow.

This afternoon was spent in Batal at the home of Zafar Khan, retired academic and Head of JKLF (A)'s Diplomatic Committee. Our conversation evoked me into penning the following lines later in the evening.

 
In Kashmir's history since 1931, genuine activists have either been co-opted (or bought by outsiders for their own agenda), killed or stifled/marginalised by force/blackmail. The remainder were unable to sustain their efforts due to exhaustion of their finances, mental and physical energy. I should also not forget those whose personal commitments/duties legitimately dragged them away from this noble pursuit of freedom from occupation.

I suffer from none of the above, although the final point in reference to legitimate commitments may finally drag me away at the end of this calendar year and give a reason to the ISI to celebrate with some champagne from Avignon.

Despite consistent work to resolve our 'National Question' since April 2005 - primarily at my own expense - I still struggle to make our public understand the need to contribute as equal citizens to a genuine sustainable institution-building effort. I leave you with two notable examples of how we fail to realise our collective potential.

.........On second thoughts I'll let you guys ponder and wonder

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Kashmir - One Secretariat document given by hand to 2 members of the public

Out of 2 members of the public who were given the document a few weeks ago, one said that he will invite me to a gathering and ask me to present the Secretariat concept there while the other said he will discuss this with many others.

Contributors to date:
120 (subject to review as reconciliation of past data not complete)

Income/Expenditure:

Opening Balance: 240
Closing Balance:  10

keys:
G = Gift/s offered by public
Cig = cigarettes
PC = Part contribution

Figures are in Pakistani rupees (of course and unfortunately)

G     - Kahwa x 3
120 PC - Roti, Egg, potato, saag (spinach),chana (chickpeas)
20    - Cig
60    - Suzuki fare x 3 (people) Chirri to Batal
G     - Kahwa and biscuits
G     - small plate of chips
30    - Telenor load

Total Income: 0
Total Expenditure: 230

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Accelerating commotion in the public

Blog reference to the 18th of January posted today due to electricity issues

Diary:

I Woke up at 6am or rather I got up at that time as I couldn't sleep all night. Thinking about the myriad of issues afflicting our State. Then relating that to my role and the multitude of challenges associated with a genuine public effort for change. An appalling net speed coupled with communication technology tools that rapidly sap their 'use by' date in a frenetically paced world which we're otherwise walled out from. Competing against the latest Ferrari with a 800cc Suzuki (car) flashes repeatedly through my mind.

An early morning stroll through the heavily dusty Khuiratta town littered with garbage wherever one casts their eye leads me to a hearty breakfast with 'Kaleji' and 'Chana' (liver and chick peas). This arouses the drowsiness that I yearned for all night. Back to bed at 8am and by 1pm I'm fresh and ready to address the electricity challenge.

Some members of the public including the gentleman presiding over the Trader's Association (Anjuman e Taajiraan) assess that the public is as useless as those responsible for governance. The former are willing to push me forward to do the leg work but will stay firmly and securely in the background themselves. He has a point of course but I re-assure him of the universal tradition that rights aren't achieved unless people persistently demand them.

Cutting a long story full of roundabouts short, the Head of Electricity (Barkiyat) in District Kotli assures me over the phone that our transmitter will be ready by tommorrow. Meanwhile, I employ a wheelbarrow to transport my PC et al to Matloob Gora's CD shop a few blocks away.



I also find time for a bit of hectic public interaction which involves the usual lamentation from the public about how inhumane the system they live in: is. Really?

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Kashmir - One Secretariat document given by hand to 9 members of the public

Kashmir - One Secretariat document emailed to one member of the public

Out of 3 members of the public who were given the document 2 days ago, 2 asked for more time and one responded.

Contributors to date:
120 (subject to review as reconciliation of past data not complete)

Income/Expenditure

Opening Balance: 0
Closing Balance: 240

keys
+ = income
D = debt
G = Gift/s offered by public
Cig = cigarettes


Figures are in Pakistani rupees (of course and unfortunately)

110 D - Breakfast Kaleji, Chana and roti
G     - cig x 4
G     - Green tea
G     - Plate of Jalebi
80  D - 20 Secretariat form photocopies
500 + - Receipt No. 103
90    - cig
50    - Telenor load
50    - labour for shifting PC et al
G     - Green tea
70    - Dinner 2 kebabs and bun

Total Income: 500
Total Expenditure: 450

A dark day

Blog reference to the 17th of January posted today due to electricity issues

My facebook response to local AJK media reports denying hustle on province scandal:

Interesting but undoubtedly there's a lot going on behind the scenes. Minister for Kashmir Affairs due in Muzaffarabad soon. I know first-hand that the 'powers that be' have been stealthily seeking public opinion on the province issue over the past year. Interestingly, the questions posed have close resemblance to M H Gilani's line that the only feasible way of AJK and GB obtaining their rights is by representation in Pakistan's Senate and Assembly. Disguising that ploy by describing it as an interim measure until the Kashmir Issue is settled infers that the citizens of Kashmir have no role to play in settling what is essentially their issue. That they are mere passive onlookers with limited options, simply waiting indefinitely for India and Pakistan to resolve the "Kashmiri' people's future according to their own (India and Pakistan's) national interest. That's a basterdisation of the concept of self-determination unmatched in the history of mankind.

Diary:

Meanwhile, I woke up at 2pm missing Jum'aa once again. Learned that the transformer connecting our building had blown last night. There's never a shortage of means to make our public despair of course. A 50 kv transmitter that was probably installed years back when the number of connections it was supplying electricity to was near a hundred. Currently there's about 400 connections hungry for power in a building that houses most local government offices too. I don't suppose they mind much though. The last time the transformer blew it took 15 days to repair. The SDO of the electricity department is also nowhere to be found. It is Friday after all I suppose.

The winter sun is also elusive, my jeep has been parked outside the Plaza for over two weeks now and the picture below tells more than a story.



This dark where even the sun is participating in the onslaught of despair leaves me to concentrate on addressing my 'tonnes' of paperwork accumulated since April 2005.

I'm also nervous about a long pending deadline to translate a book on 'Kashmirology' (a term I've coined for Kashmir Studies) which I must complete by tuesday morning. Can't do much at the moment so an early night is called for.

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Kashmir - One Secretariat document emailed to one member of the public

Contributors to date:
119 (subject to review as reconciliation of past data not complete)

Income/Expenditure

Opening Balance: 0
Closing Balance: 0

key:
G = Gift offered by public

G  - lunch gobi, roti and lassi

Total Income: 0
Total Expenditure: 0

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pakistan prepares to lay it's constitutional cards on the table

The link below has fired me up to kick off my daily blog for this new calendar year.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2014/01/14/demand-raises-to-make-kashmir-gilgit-baltistan-provinces-of-pakistan/

Fascinating debate. However, first of all - Pakistan does not have a legal basis for it's presence in AJK and GB. De facto control and occupation for over 66 years doesn't necessarily translate as legitimacy. Any keen reader of history will recognise that Pakistan has consistently engaged in intrigue, subterfuge, distortion of the sacred faith of Islam, contortion of genuine public opinion, enticement of war booty and naked aggression where necessary.

There is a crucial role that Britain and later the UN played in cementing Pakistan's (and India's) presence in those parts of the erstwhile Dogra State which they 'respectively' control. Pakistan's only grievance with India was over the historically coveted 'Vale of Kashmir'. In conformance with it's two-nation theory it has always been advocating (mainly behind the scenes) the 'Chenab formula' and thus contrary to mainstream opinion in Pakistan, the country was always content with the division of Jammu & Kashmir..

Meanwhile, it's a pity that a citizen of the State (of J&K) reasonably well versed with jurisprudence (namely Manzoor Hussain Gilani) cites UNCIP (United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan) as the source of Pakistan's legitimacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I challenge anybody on this planet to justify Pakistan's presence in Kashmir. There simply isn't one, though I accept their right of access to our water. However, they needn't occupy us for that reason as water has been meandering it's way through our mountains and ravines for centuries.

It should also be noted that the specific conflict resolution framework devised by the UN viz. UNCIP was disbanded in 1950 once it became clear that it wasn't going anywhere (a tacit move in my opinion). Furthermore, whatever has transpired since 1947 has been with the 'tacit' agreement of the 'International Community'. When Britain divided British India (including the princely states) they also mapped out the division of the Dogra State on the lines as currently exist viz. Ceasefire Line cum LOC cum International Border. This was contrary to the spirit of the 3rd of June 1947 Indian Independence Act as interpreted by none other than the 'father' of Pakistan Mr. Jinnah. India was satisfied with this scenario but Pakistan wanted the 'Vale'. Now that it's dawned on Pakistan that it has no way of achieving what it wants and coupled with it's realisation that it is becoming increasingly dependent on economic ties with India, it is also acutely cognizant that the U.S. has always refrained from advocating Pakistan's stance on Kashmir.

On the contrary, the U.S. has always stressed on Pakistan to convince India (if possible and if appropriate) on giving up 'territory'. That's what the Oval Office means whenever it lectures Pakistan on developing good relations with India. The Pakistanis - as foolish as they are - indeed took that bait during the Musharraf era when they repeatedly talked of India being a big country that should be able to make 'big' concessions.

It should also be remembered that the provincial set-up on this side of the LOC was actually agreed between Z A Bhutto and Indira Gandhi at Simla in 1972, though again it was another tacit agreement. It's a pity that even in this era of information technology that many of our citizens are still oblivious of Pakistan's role in swallowing our resources and conniving with India to get the best deal possible. Of course, India's role including that of Britain and the UN hasn't exactly been clean either.

Where lies our hope in gaining our basic rights and re-possession of our territory? Under the Dogras, our forefathers were justified in claiming their rights in a framework where our territory and identity were not compromised. In 1947, we were deprived of both. The UN Charter (and I claim that the UN acted in contradiction to it's charter by formulating the second UNCIP resolution on the 5th of January 1949) is our window of opportunity and interestingly, although the UN has always ostensibly treated our issue as a territorial dispute (another error), it has been consistent in specifying to India and Pakistan to seek the opinion of the 'Kashmiri' public. Both countries on their part have consistently contorted and manipulated public opinion of course, by whatever means necessary.

The International Court of Justice at The Hague (Holland) is an institutional arm of the UN and claims adherence to the UN Charter. That is an appropriate forum for us to take our case but not before collecting genuine public opinion. Those under Indian occupation could do something similar though I am always hesitant in giving them suggestions. The reason being that - in principle - they are intelligent enough (more than us in fact) to map their own course but our solidarity is with them in whatever they decide.

Work on the above has already been in progress for some years and the collection of public opinion also happens to be at a mature stage. The timing of Pakistan in laying it's cards on the table is too fascinating. We also aim to go to the public of AJK (we've recently requested activists in GB to do the same) by walking
from Bhimber to Neelam very soon. I have five people ready so far. I know many of you are confidant of 'talking the talk' but how many of you are willing to 'walk the walk'?

Note: A similar version of today's text above was posted as a comment on Facebook at Peace Group of Journalists (PGJ)

Diary:

As I aim to make my 'public service' activity as transparent and as interactive as possible, along with a daily blog I shall be summarising the day's events as concisely as possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that having spent 8 years and 9 months here un-interrupted, I've finally decided that if no output in the form of the public achieving it's rights occurs by December the 31st 2014, I will draw a line on my efforts and return to the UK where I've spent most of my life.

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Kashmir - One Secretariat document given by hand to 6 members of the public

Contributors to date:
119 (subject to review as reconciliation of past data not complete)

Income/Expenditure

Opening Balance: 0
Closing Balance: 0

keys
D = debt
G = Gift/s offered by public
Cig = cigarettes

Figures are in Pakistani rupees (of course and unfortunately)

10 D - Food
10 D - Washing Powder
G      - Lunch Chicken and roti
90 D - Cig
G      - Small carton Fruit Juice
G      - Small plate of Chips
G      - 50 Zong load and 50 Ufone load

Total Income: 0
Total Expenditure: 110