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Friday, July 6, 2018

187

2325hrs:


The past 30 hours have been a whirlwind of travel involving a 50 kilometre walk from Rawalakot to Sehnsa yesterday evening (the remainder of this 6 and a half hour journey was completed by hitching an assortment of lifts from my co-citizens).

Then from Sehnsa to Mirpur this morning and onto Dadyaal in a hired vehicle. It is only this evening that I managed to get about 4 hours of much needed sleep.

Tomorrow is another hectic day of travelling, though the blisters on my feet will ensure that walking will be kept to a minimum.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

185

2337hrs:

A Red Letter day in Rawalakot, almost as late as a Belgian winner...it did seem at times.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 183 of 2018

1500hrs:

There was a point in 1947 after the entry of Indian and Pakistani armed forces in the State of Jammu & Kashmir
When Neither India or Pakistan Wanted Kashmir

However, neither country was in the least bit interested in referring the national question of Jammu and Kashmir to the people of the territory (unless either was convinced that the majority of people sided with their respective claim).

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 182 of 2018

2350hrs:

Today's blog entry is being written on my phone using the phone's local network which is painfully slow in processing. In fact, I thought I would miss the midnight deadline....

The internet service we normally use had gone AWOL. The local cable TV network's service was also absent today and thus we missed out on being able to watch today's FIFA World Cup fixtures.

It is always frustrating when you can't access a service that you pay for. The frustration transforms into angst considering that we are paying taxes for these services - that we don't always get when we need them - to a country that is not accountable to us in any way.

That is just one aspect of the many examples of inhumanity we confront on a daily basis in AJK. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 181 of 2018

2356hrs:

We do leave it late at times.

The FIFA World Cup is engaging now that it's into its final 14 (as we speak and write)......

AJK to qualify for FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

That is not as crazy as it sounds.

Let's discuss...

Friday, June 29, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 180 of 2018

2348hrs:

You wanna proceed to your next mission. In fact, you want to fly at times or at least hit the ground running but......

This line of work never involves a straight line........the twists and turns are as serpentine as the rivers. It is important to remain consistent and composed.

Meanwhile, here's the latest interview of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir on JKTV:






Thursday, June 28, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 179 of 2018

1710hrs:

Another day in Rawalakot.......still struggling to get in gear.....despite covering an important event earlier today.



....The battle lines are clearly drawn I would say.

Meanwhile, I'm still coming to terms with some tantalising news emerging from Muzaffarabad yesterday:





Come to think of it, I wonder what else is discussed (on our behalf) and with whom without our consultation?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 176 of 2018

2136hrs:

How to invent a country?

The BBC has put a lot of effort into finding out......

They spent over 10 years of research in preparing this series for Radio 4

Listening to these podcats could give us a clearer perspective on the history of our own region over the past 200 years and a context for the contested space of Jammu and Kashmir between India, Pakistan and the subjects who reside within this territory.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of interviews of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir conducted by Sudhnuti News:








Friday, June 22, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 173 of 2018

2117hrs:

Achievement in terms of daily tasks set out in public interest are progressing very slowly, if at all. Society in AJK - like most societies throughout the world - is engaged in pursuits which can range from searching for their daily bread to commitments in respect of their families and thus, the scope for engaging in public interest activity is narrow and limited. It's within that confined space that people like me operate.

I've sustained my efforts for 13 years thus far and will continue to do so.

The hardships involved in activism affect all aspects of one's existence but with time, the determination and confidence needed also gets more intense. A critical breaking-point will emerge at some stage. Either the activist will withdraw their commitment or the system will crack.

We understand that our problems begin and end with India and Pakistan's occupation of our territory but it's the middle bit involving the socio-economic transactions of the affectees amongst themselves that needs attention and focus. Taking all factors - internal as well as external - into account and as daunting and unforgiving as they are, it is no surprise that our people look up to the world to help them out of the 70 year old impasse they find themselves locked in.

That is not the solution though.

Change begins at home, in our behaviour and mental approach in particular. Apart from everything else that I am doing, this is what I'm trying to concentrate on in Rawalakot. The people here have a relatively better chance of navigating themselves out of this quagmire, compared to other parts of AJK.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 172 of 2018

2220hrs:

Another day in Rawalakot.

I've blogged for 118 of 171 days of this year and I would confess that I still haven't developed the right groove in daily blogging. Nevertheless, a 69% output rate compared to close to 0 in previous years is something to build on as we approach the half-way mark of this year already.

The problems of this territory (related to governance) are too many to list impromptu. Likewise, the ability and will of the public to tackle them don't appear to be increasing significantly either. It is in such an environment that I am operating. The public appears to be constantly in a compromised or indolent state of being. The task of determining our current and future status as citizens of AJK - recognised by the global community - appears as daunting as it was during that tumultuous year of 1947.

However, it is not at all grim if the public changes its mental approach and builds on the various qualities that it possesses. We introspect a lot in public but don't devote enough time and attention to those amongst us who show ability to address our plight....the late Sardar Aftab of Thorar - who died on the 5th of June last year (2017) - was one such sincere and formidable activist.

Here we are celebrating his commitment and devotion in Ali Sojal earlier today:





   

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 171 of 2018

1449hrs:

I've been in Poonch (district) for a few days now and I don't find it difficult to maintain my contact with mother nature here.

In my 13 years here - in or around AJK - I've never had an opportunity or public interest imperative to ground myself in Rawalakot before. In fact the longest stretch of time hitherto spent here was either during fieldwork for the Public Opinion Survey Report - AJK or during the recent 'Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed' campaign.

The ground here is as tricky as it is promising and that should become obvious, gradually as this blog cuts through the future as it unfolds before us.

There is some parallels between Rawalakot and Srinagar too, apart from being at about the same height above sea level: 5,374 feet to 5,200 feet respectively.

Now that 'Governor Rule' has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir once again. That counts as another first for me to witness, even if from across the LOC.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 170 of 2018

1535hrs:

We have drafted and sent a response to UNHCR's reply to Mahmood Ahmed Musafir on the 14th of June.

Here it is:

Ms. Ruven Menikdiwela
The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan
No.2 Diplomatic Enclave, QUAID-E-AZAM, University Road, Sector G-4, Islamabad, Pakistan

Dear Madam,

Many thanks for your email response on the 14th of June.

While we accept your explanation in terms of the standard operating procedures you have described, we wish to provide further context into this case and hope that - at the very least - you can continue monitoring it.

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir was born in 1964 in Subdivision (tehsil) Mendhar, District Poonch in Indian-Administered Kashmir. In 1965, war broke out between India and Pakistan and Mahmood's parents  were forced to migrate (taking their children including 1 year old Mahmood) to Kotli in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

He began his life in public activism at the age of 20 in 1984. He has engaged in all manner of peaceful and creative pursuit to address the absence of governance in AJK (Pakistani-Administered Kashmir). The local governmental set-up despite nomenclatures such as 'Azad' (free) with a prime minister, president and supreme court operates at the 5th tier of governance despite the practice and appearance of democratic elections un-interrupted every 5 years since 1985.

Decisions on public policy/governance in AJK begin at the 1st tier with Pakistan's military and its agencies, followed by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad as 2nd tier. Below them remains the Kashmir Council (which has operated effectively as an upper house of parliament in AJK and until the recent 13th Amendment in AJK's 'constitutional' structure had almost sole legislative, judicial as well as executive power in AJK). The 4th tier is a group of at least 7 'lent officers' from Pakistan who further oversee and over-ride any decisions made by the assembly members of AJK who are voted in every 5 years by the public of AJK. However, there is very little that these local politicians can be held accountable for as most powers vest with the Federation of Pakistan, which is not accountable to the public of AJK.

The scenario is further complicated by the fact that AJK is not a territory that is constitutionally a part of the Federation of Pakistan and neither is it autonomous or independent in decision-making. Pakistan has in fact assumed all responsibilities regarding governance in AJK, which for all practical purposes appears self-fulfilling at the cost of the basic rights of the citizen in AJK. A recent report (on the state of human rights in Kashmir) by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the 14th of June, also alludes to some of the points made above.

In short, Mahmood Ahmed Musafir is not a citizen of Pakistan and has in fact moved out of his territory of origin (which remains under constitutional ambiguity for the past 70 years and from where a local citizen cannot institutionally pursue less resolve any aspect of public policy).

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir - despite all the above - has no enmity towards Pakistan but rather has always tried to include the aspirations of the Pakistani citizen within his efforts. However, his aspirations to create alternative energy in a free environment where merit and skill is recognised for the sake of alleviating problems for humanity cannot be realised in AJK or Pakistan. Indeed, the governmental set-up in AJK has expressly demanded that he stop agitating for rights in that territory.

Now that he's reaching the end of his life, he wants to die on a positive note whereby he would be leaving behind something for humanity.

He has also requested UNHCR to explore other grounds which may enable him to be considered for asylum/refugee status. Or should we contact HRCP and assess their response before exploring other options or taking the next step?

It has now been 37 days since Mahmood began his hunger strike on the 14th of May. He has been surviving on liquid and consequently at this stage can no longer walk and his head gets dizzy with increasing frequency.

Finally, we hope to be able to engage with the Head of UNHCR in Pakistan as the dilemma of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir is part of a wider dilemma that prevents any citizen (laymen, politician or judiciary) of AJK from engaging meaningfully with global institutions in particular and the outside world in general.

Being categorised (by default) as citizens of Pakistan without that country bearing the responsibilities of its unqualified control of our territory; has stock-piled a increasing range of problems which could otherwise be resolved by direct access to the outside world on our part.

Thanking you for your understanding.

Regards

Tanveer Ahmed (on behalf of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir)

Founder - AJK Public Agency

www.ajkpublicagency.org

Contact: 03455044252

End....


The original letter written to UNHCR on the 4th of June can be accessed here:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 169 of 2018

1352hrs:

We must return to the topic of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir today. He is into Day 36 of his hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club in Pakistan.

After the initial letter witten to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee's representative in Pakistan on the 4th of June and a written reminder sent on the 11th of June, we received the following reply from them on the 14th of June:

Dear Mr. Tanveer,

We hereby confirm receipt of your application. We wish to inform that UNHCR’s mandate does not allow UNHCR in Pakistan to assist citizens of Pakistan unless they are displaced within their country due to conflict and the Government of Pakistan requests UNHCR and other UN agencies for assistance for these internally displaced persons.

Please note that under its mandate, UNHCR supports governments in providing protection to persons who have crossed international borders in order to seek asylum in a country that is not their country of origin.

For seeking protection as a refugee, a person needs to be outside his/her country of origin. A person who is still living in his/her country, such as a Pakistani national in Pakistan, cannot apply for asylum and be recognized as a refugee.

We, therefore, are unable to respond to your request for assistance inside Pakistan. You may, however, wish to contact the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) – a countrywide independent human rights body – to whom you could address your situation. The HRCP head office is located at Aiwan-i-Jamhoor, 107-Tipu Block New Garden Town, Lahore. Tel: + 92 42 35838341- 35864994 - 35865969 Fax: + 92 42 35883582. E-mail: hrcp@hrcp-web.org 

You may also wish to contact the HRCP’s Complaint Cell for seeking assistance on mobile number 0333-2006800 or landline number 042-35845959. You may also contact them directly on the Complaint Cell email address report@hrcp-web.org

Further details on HRCP’s offices can be found at http://hrcp-web.org/hrcpweb/about-hrcp/hrcp-offices/

Thank you for your understanding.


Yours sincerely,

UNHCR
Protection Unit
Country office Islamabad

End...



After consultation with Mahmood Ahmed Musafir, we are in the process of responding in turn to this letter.


Meanwhile, here's a valiant attempt at highlighting Mahmood's cause. Many thanks to the media team at Ab Tak.




Not to forget the other side of the LOC, here's a silent protest through the streets of Srinagar today in remembrance of the irreplaceable Shujaat Bukhari:





Sunday, June 17, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 168 of 2018

1551hrs:

Celebrating each other as individuals and part of public agency in Jammu and Kashmir.


This is the late Shujaat Bukhari - a priceless asset of Jammu & Kashmir

Recognising the individual in a State

Connecting the individual to the 'State' and synchronising their mtutal interests to create identity, which then provides access to a global forum from where one puts forward an indigenous narrative.

This achievement (of public space) enables a nation (a specific set of people within a legally defined territory and recognised as such by the world's most obvious forum - the United Nations) to translate its genuine aggregate public concerns into effective political representation. The public itself has to create, nurture, protect and sustain that agency: to avoid external interference.

When I suddenly phoned Shujaat Bukhari from Jammu in the summer of 2009 to inform him that I was on my way to Srinagar. His first question was, "Where will you be staying in the city?" I replied in my usual manner, "I was hoping to stay with you to make my visit as useful as possible in the shortest space of time".

He was a noble, fabulous, flexible, generous and concerned host who looked after me during the whole week that I was there. I spent 3 memorable days in his home and admired the way he multi-tasked so much and kept his composure and attention at all times. His home had wonderfully diverse cuisine with influence of much from Central Asia to South Asia.

My loss is the nation's loss.   

Kashmir is a conflict which consumes the best of its people. Shujaat Bukhari was a proud Kashmiri, a champion of its language and culture, and someone who sought dialogue over slogans and violence. His independence of mind has cost him his life.

Quote from Andrew Whitehead - Former BBC World Service Editor and Historian (on Kashmir)


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 167 of 2018

0319hrs:

The day before yesterday (Day 165 which I couldn't log an entry for - it was that shattering) climaxed in a piece of news that paralysed me mentally for the next few hours. I am yet to digest the death of Shujaat Bukhari

As described on my facebook entry that day:



I heard of his death on the balcony of another fallen dynamic hero - Arif Shahid - of peace and prosperity in Jammu & Kashmir. This connection paralysed me given that it had taken just over 12 hours for me to get from Sehnsa to Rawalakot (about 80 kilometres in total). It was a hot day to travel, my vehicle broke down 4 times in between and despite the ice cold shower at the Bawali (Water Spring) just below Hatkora - the day was nerve-racking and highly introspective. The public of AJK played a superb supporting role as usual. I rued the lack of interest and support shown by our diaspora, especially those citizens of evolved democracies. However, I know I shouldn't as they'll come good one day.

I'm writing this not far from the LOC where we aim to spend Eid and deliver aspects of hope between our intermittently aggressive neighbours.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 166 of 2018

1655hrs:

It began raining about an hour ago....a cool climax to a month of 16 hour daily fasts at the peak of the summer.

How and where to spend Eid:

We are on our way to the LOC and particularly those areas which have witnessed the brunt of Indo-Pak cross-fire. Various villages had been evacuated over the past year and their inhabitants are still reluctant to return for fear of losing what remains of their lives.

As it is unlikely that we'll be able to post anything while on the LOC, we would like to invite our co-citizens to spend or share some of their time in solidarity with these villages....From Dharamsaal in tehsil Hajeera to Polas in tehsil Abbaspur.


White Flags and asserting peace amidst two aggresive neighbours - who have little toleration for anything or anyone that doesn't agree with their particular sense of nationalism - no matter how un-natural or destructive for humanity their stance may prove to be - for a hard core activist in AJK is the most productive activity that one can imagine doing, at this specific point in time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 164 of 2018

2337hrs:

The days go by....data mounts......important notes in public interest need to be extracted everyday and made public.........transparency in thought and motive....


As I mull over the 'constitutional question' of AJK and now that I have fresh material in the shape of the '13th Amendment', the need to elaborate on the self-serving assumptions of Pakistan's legal stance vis a vis its relationship with AJK, becomes compelling.


For many years and after many a discussion with legal experts in AJK and Pakistan, I still can't understand the legal validity of the word 'When' at the beginning of article 257 of the 1973 Pakistani constitution. At best it should be written as 'If'.


At least I got an affirmative laugh on that remark from a senior legal expert in AJK!


Article 257 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan reads:


257. Provision relating to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State. 

The distance between assumption and fact cannot be measured in time or even verified. It has more to do with principles and performance (especially in matters of governance). 70 years and counting provides ample 'material' especially in this digital age. 


The following may qualify as a metaphor:

A thief could steal something in 1947 and remain largely undetected or disturbed. If need be, he, she or it could provide a plausible alibi or even a meaningful narrative. Not in June 2018. 

There are audio/video capturing devices everywhere now. Information gathering has come of age. The same modus operandi in 1947 cannot work today.


Assumption Number 2:
That Pakistan's totalitarian control of AJK and GB is sanctioned by the United Nations. Further, that their presence has been unreservedly backed by an overwhelming majority of the 'citizens' of the 2 territories in question. 

This could be a huge thread in academic discussion but needs to be scrutinised by the people of AJK before exploring the pros and cons of AJK's 44 year leap from 'Interim Act' in 1974 to 'Interim Constitution' today. 

Thank you Pakistan for the 13th Amendment.

Governance and functioning institutions have never been your forte. 

These are not my words to be precise, I'm just paraphrasing the fundamental argument made by Imran Khan in a recent interview on BBC Hardtalk   

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 161 of 2018

2308hrs:

Unfortunately, my performance - when measured in public interest output - for this previous month has been atrocious. I hope that it translates into the calm before the storm. Of course, time followed by health are the most precious 'commodities' in the hands of man (and woman) and wasting them is more painful than watching all the selfish activity of the Pakistani State right under our nose.

This evening was spent at a water spring (Chashma). Let's hope the invigoration derived from this activity transforms my performance in favour of public interest in AJK.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 160 of 2018

2345hrs:

Still in Sehnsa............trying to piece memories together bit by bit......

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 157 of 2018

2144hrs:

Now I'm stuck in Sehnsa since yesterday whereas my ultimate destination - for the immediate future - is Rawalakot.

More on that in due course.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 156 of 2018

0049hrs:

The following is a letter written to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) yesterday morning according to the timeline cited and as requested by Mahmood Ahmed Musafir.

Later, in what is perhaps an un-connected event and what emerged as 22 days of ignoring his presence, the State of Pakistan seemed to have suddenly sprung into action this evening when their Federal Police appeared to launch an 'offensive' at 7:30 (pm).

It seemed as if they were on the verge of arresting Mahmood.

An altercation between journalists of AJK and the police ensued. It is reported that the latter were brusque in their approach but gradually matters returned to calm ..............as we post this blog...there are still 40 odd federal policeman watching over Mahmood, his tent and presumably dozens of other protesters from all over Pakistan:

Assessing/Determining the refugee status of a citizen of AJK (More commonly described as Pakistani-administered Kashmir) in Pakistan

Tanveer Ahmed
04:17 (0 minutes ago)

To:
Ms. Ruven Menikdiwela
The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan
No.2 Diplomatic Enclave, QUAID-E-AZAM, University Road, Sector G-4, Islamabad, Pakistan

Dear Madam,

With respect to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we understand asserts the right of everyone to seek and enjoy
asylum, we wish to put forward the case of our citizen (of AJK or Azad Jammu & Kashmir), namely Mahmood Ahmed Musafir for possible 'refugee status' assessment by your esteemed organisation.

Having read through all concerned notes on your work it is difficult to ascertain whether or not Mahmood Ahmed Musafir qualifies for assistance, given the very unusual nature of his predicament.

We'll just try and provide a brief synopsis of why Mahmood wishes to attain refugee status and travel to any one of the following countries:

1) United Kingdom
2) Germany
3) Japan
4) Philippines
5) Malaysia

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir has been a dedicated activist in AJK for the past 34 years. Apart from working for the fundamental rights of the citizens of this territory described as AJK (which happens to be a constitutional enigma amongst other descriptions - it is neither legally a part of Pakistan or an independent territory but it is controlled/administered in toto by Pakistan) Mahmood also wishes to work on alternative energy (in particular wind and mechanical). However, despite annual events in public interest from walking/marching/demonstrating/conducting hunger strikes to try and persuade the local government in AJK to heed to his demands in public interest, he has been unsuccessful.

His demands break down into the most basic of needs such as roofs and sanitary facilities for government schools in AJK and an appeal for clean drinking water. Incidentally, his home district of Kotli is where water related diseases in the local population are most severe (compared to the rest of AJK).

This year on the 27th of February, he began a walk for almost 400 kilometres from Bhimber (in the South of AJK) to Muzaffarabad (the capital of the territory in the North of AJK) with 3 donkeys and a camel in tow (to highlight the point that if humans cannot legislate on their affairs, then perhaps animals could provide guidance). These animals and the wheel-cart they were pushing had a list of 32 demands in public interest. The local government of AJK did not provide the required attention to his demands and dismissed them with 4 common objections/excuses:

1) We are already working on these issues.
2) We do not have the necessary legislative/administrative/executive power to deliver to the public. Those powers lie with Pakistan.
3) We do not have the budget/finance to deliver.
4) Why are you so concerned? This is not your business.

Even before sitting down to talk with him, the AJK Government had undertaken many underhand tactics to try and prevent him from reaching the discussion table.

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir then felt compelled to begin an indefinite hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club in Pakistan's capital on May the 14th. 

To date his hunger strike continues and the Federation of Pakistan which should be answerable to his plight has yet to pay him a visit.

He just wants to serve humanity and delving in alternative energy could help his country alleviate at least some of the problems it is confronted with.

Mahmood is of the opinion that any one of the five countries listed above may assist him with the right environment to develop these technologies which he has spent much of his life devoted to developing.

Can the UNHCR help?

Regards

Tanveer Ahmed (on behalf of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir)

Founder - AJK Public Agency

www.ajkpublicagency.org

Contact: 03455044252

Monday, June 4, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 155 of 2018

0148hrs:

I'll refer to the past 2 weeks and more as my longest 'down-time' this year. The heat of Dadyaal combined with the long days of fasting have been a major factor in this recess.

I am also struggling to get some aspects of my work understood by those of my co-citizens that I come across in day to day life. That is, apart from those who have already appreciated and contributed to 'my work'. What I write daily is primarily for my co-citizens - at home in AJK as well as the diaspora - many of whom are not comfortable in reading or writing English. That limits the impact of my work somewhat, though I do make up for it with a wide range of audio and video with commentary in Urdu or even Pahari at times. As for the wider world - particularly media and  academia - it is the written word that counts.

This scenario may mean that many citizens of the world may become more acquainted with my work than many of my own co-citizens. After all, it is the latter who are the subject matter as well as the source of assistance required by this nature of work. Essentially, where the public of AJK become the agency of change needed in this territory. However, there are already some indications that the world at large may be a more willing contributor to my 'cause', if I may call it that. That is what I want to avoid at all costs.

As I dig deeper into the soul while writing about my day to day activity, the chinks or weaknesses in our people's struggle for rights will inevitably also become apparent.

Meanwhile, these past couple of weeks have been busy for Pakistan's outgoing PML-N government (and it's deep state), which have tried to rush in 'constitutional' reforms for AJK and GB (Gilgit-Baltistan). Both 'orders' make a mockery of democracy once again.

The GB 'Order' is a bit more brutal in its wording while the AJK '13th Amendment' (of Act 74) is rather more sugar-coated, with an apparent transfer of financial/admin powers to AJK's legislative assembly but of course subject to Pakistan's consent at every juncture. Both steps are an ugly attempt at further integrating AJK and GB into Pakistan's federation. Removing the word 'Act' from AJK's 'Interim Constitution Act 1974' and simply using the word 'constitution' for a document that is imposed on the citizens of AJK is particularly ominous.

More on this topic in due course.   

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 154 of 2018

2106hrs:

Still stuck in Dadyaal. It's getting hotter by the day and as a consequence, fasting is getting more difficult.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 152 of 2018

0013hrs:

Its been 9 days since my previous blog entry. That's by far the longest stretch of absence since the 1st of January this year. It is Ramadhan and it is hot in Dadyaal at this time of the year but I've been trying to transfer my presence and work to Rawalakot for as many days as I've been absent from this blogosphere.

Without any luck so far.

It is at times like this that frustration with our nature of work is at its peak.

It is also troublesome for the mind that Mahmood Ahmed Musafir almost decided to self-immolate himself this morning after learning yesterday that the Kotli police tried to return his 3 donkeys and camel to his parent's house. Thankfully, this disaster was averted when - various members of the public rallied around the issue to force the local admin to re-take custody of the animals.

Meanwhile, here's a discussion on Mahmood's mission on JK TV:




Mahmood Ahmed Musafir was also visited by a group of journalists (of AJK but working in Islamabad/Rawalpindi Pakistan) on May the 24th. Here's a video of their discussion:






Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 143 of 2018

2340hrs:

Lazyness is a dreaded disease and I've had 2 full days of it. There is a lot happening from a constitutional angle which will - by all accounts - make life harder for the average public-interest pursuing citizen in AJK and GB (Gilgit-Baltistan) in particular.

There is something grinding outside Islamabad Press Club in Pakistan's capital, where aspirations of a silent majority (of AJK and GB) are being represented in some shape or form. This at least proves that the 'legislative' assemblies of AJK and GB are not quite the 'grievance redressal' forums that they are perceived to be.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of videos of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir giving an interview to a journalist of AJK origin yesterday:








Monday, May 21, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 141 of 2018

2231hrs:

Perhaps the major reason why we fight for our rights - as humans fighting for our natural rights as well as citizens fighting for our basic rights within a defined territory - is to prevent the tragedy of wastage of human intellect that can make the world better for everybody.

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir is one such tragedy in the making:




Sunday, May 20, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 140 of 2018

1733hrs:

Have been busy preparing a detailed report on Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's activity in public interest this year and how the AJK Government interacted or responded to his demands. Meanwhile, he's into his 7th day of a fresh hunger strike. This time, he's camped outside Islamabad Press Club in Pakistan's capital city. Here's a fresh banner that he's put up to explain his stance:


The banner would be translated into English as follows:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 139 of 2018

0002hrs:

Another mis-calculation. Initially, I had thought that I had already posted on Day 138 but it only dawned on me a couple of minutes beyond the midnight deadline that I hadn't.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 137 of 2018

1727hrs:

Still stuck in Sehnsa. Its hard to leave one's place of birth, even to proceed to an adjacent tehsil. Ramadhan is here too.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 134 of 2018

2322hrs:

Sehnsa is a rough neighbourhood......but even it has been most gentle to me for the past 13 years. I want and need to write much more.......but know few who would engage meaningfully (read institutionally) on a daily basis. Need to interact with 1,771 citizens of the territory - almost unknown to the rest of the world despite at least a 1.5 million strong diaspora - on a daily basis.

3 months outside - 3 months in

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 132 of 2018

2250hrs:

Yesterday, by 2300hrs we were back in Nikyaal, barely 36 hours after leaving. So, I couldn't post last night either.

Check this photo:


A bit belated but here's the video report in reference to the return of the 2 abducted boys from Nikyaal.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 130 of 2018

2244hrs:

I couldn't post an entry yesterday because I was in Nikyaal, which for its proximity to the LOC if not for its dynamic 'White Flag Movement' for peace, is bereft of meaningful internet connectivity.

Here's a press briefing given to local journalists this morning:



.......

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 128 of 2018

2313hrs:

This has been my longest break from blogging this year. It's also the first time I've been too ill to do much in 2018. The past month has been shared by both Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot. Both very different climatically from each other and from my base in Dadyaal.

I've recovered enough to pursue an act of aggression by Pakistan's clandestine agencies in Tehsil Nikyaal (Mandetar) near the LOC. 2 youngsters barely out of their teens were picked up in broad daylight on Saturday the 5th of May from a family wedding. The local administration haven't a clue of their whereabouts and were not involved in the chain of action apparently.

Here's a brief discussion on the issue conducted in the UK:



.......

Friday, May 4, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 124 of 2018

1848hrs:

The feeling that I should be constructively writing my day is becoming more intense. Thank you Google for keeping this electronic diary going for so many years. I suppose I'm writing regularly in an age when people are more likely to read snippets of info, amongst a huge choice of information to choose, though people do engage in clusters, I suppose I am one amongst a particular cluster of humanity: seeking considered and informed change in a war zone which involves more casualties amongst my fellow citizens than the two 'outside parties' fighting on my turf and at my expense, whilst refraining from similar activity on their 'own' border.

The UN

I had a fortuitous meeting with the two UNMOGIP soldiers, stationed in Rawalakot this morning. The information exchanged needs to be put on the record to illustrate how the non-existence of AJK in the comity of nations - identified as such by the rest of the world - means we have no civil or institutional access to either nation-states or international institutions. Even if we communicate with them, they will not acknowledge or respond to anything in writing. Formally engaging with them is still a few steps ahead in our struggle for identity.

Here are the points discussed:

1 Swiss national and 1 Thai national (female) represented UNMOGIP

I explained/reminded them that:

1) This a peaceful territory with a public that aspires for peace, civilisational progress, justice and economic opportunity within a democratic/consensual framework of governance.

2) We don't exist as an entity as far as the world is concerned. For all practical purposes, even the UN doesn't recognise us as distinct from India and/or Pakistan. The most we can do is arrange for an appointment with UNMOGIP at any one of our large urban centres in AJK (which all have UNMOGIP presence albeit within Pakistani army 'cantons' or brigade headquarters). Whereby, all they are instructed to do is take a memorandum/letter from us addressed to the Secretary General in New York. Over the past 71 years, many thousands of letters have reached the Secretary General (particularly from Srinagar) but none have ever received a written response. The Political Affairs Department - also based in New York - according to its website description, seems to be the most appropriate organ within the UN to liaise on matters such as ours but alas, they stonewall us too.

3) We are not seeking help or charity from the UN, rather we are trying to help ourselves through locally generated resources and our own diaspora. We merely want the world to acknowledge our existence and monitor how we are using 'soft power' and democratic tools (in some respects at a standard not yet witnessed in the developed world). Accessing the world without Pakistan (or India) blocking all routes is an immediate need that the UN should discuss informally within its institutional structure, as should the UK and the EU for the sake of humanity and the values they espouse from time to time.

4) If Switzerland can sustain its neutrality for hundreds of years as a diverse entity amongst powerful neighbours, then Jammu & Kashmir deserves that right too.

At the end of our conversation, I requested to take a joint photo with them but they politely declined, explaining that they didn't have permission to do so.

.......

Meanwhile, since yesterday there has been a lot of chatter about the police of Rawalakot expressing solidarity with 'Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed Committee' which is into its 15th day today. I've been at the camp for 7 days now and I know the police are keen to express solidarity at the camp but fear losing their jobs. We told them to come en masse so that the prospect of such an eventuality is reduced.

.....

Today, I was jolted badly by the State of Pakistan and its shadowy presence in AJK. A couple of days ago I had ordered some money from the UK (from our diaspora) using an online provider that we've using for over a couple of years. After a few hours of repeatedly visiting the relevant bank, we learned that their was an 'unknown error' preventing the transaction from being processed. As we dug deeper, we found out that we were being punished for not including the word 'Pakistan' in the receiver's address section. I cancelled the transaction and began thinking of a method to counter their inhumanity.

I've survived against all odds for 13 years and I'm sure I'll survive till my last breath, irrespective of whatever Pakistan tries to do to make AJK a formal part of Pakistan.

.......

Late in the evening was a prolonged discussion between 9 members of 'Justice for Naeem Butt Action Committee' and the local administration next to the camp at DC Office. Particpants of the committee were upbeat despite the discussions not being completed. The remaining portion of the agenda will be discussed tomorrow:

Here's our own version of a 'press conference' afterwards:



....



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 123 of 2018

0037hrs:

You remember and then you forget and then you remember and then......

Life can still be described as hectic if you meet over 100 people in a day to discuss 'matters of the state'. It almost seems as if we have entered a new era in AJK. Certainly the dawn of a new era seems to have knocked our door. Taking the Rawalakot victory model of the 30th of April to the other nine districts of AJK, even looks likely to be more than a distinct possibility.

Meanwhile, engaging with the descendents of the British Empire in the shape of the United Kingdom and its institutions is going to become an aspect or a feature of our constant and continuing struggle to establish our existence as a 'nation-state' on the world's map.

Here's our latest attempt:

What Do They Know?

History, the Present and Future seemed to get together in the video below:

I urge you all to watch the whole clip:




The following is a set of 3 clips on Facebook live - taken yesterday evening - which involve an interview of me by Shahid Sharaf, a dedicated member of 'Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed Committee'.

Clip 1 of 3




Clip 2 of 3



Clip 3 of 3















....

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 121 of 2018

2048hrs:

Today was all about balancing the euphoria of yesterday's victory in public interest with estimating the challenges ahead in this modern day struggle for fundamental rights in AJK.

There is also a growing feeling within me that though I am able to capture a lot on video and much is discussed in terms of reporting and commentary on events through this medium, I am yet not adequately describing my daily activity in writing here. A lot is missed out on a daily basis and then the next day brings its own fresh tasks, leaving a lot of accumulated thoughts and explanatiions piling up offline.

Time creates combustion in sentiment which leads to activity like yesterday whereby the blood of a martyr (Naeem Butt) brought the whole district of Poonch to a standstill. He did not die fighting an army militarily but was shot for peacefully protesting the unabated killing of his co-citizens residing on the LOC by Indian and Pakistan cross-fire. He lived 40 kilometeres away from this 'Line of Blood' and was never directly affected. He was killed for protesting against the killing of others.

Here's a clip of our hero moments after being shot on the 16th of March:



Yesterday in Rawalakot, no-one got hurt, there was no clash between the police and public, almost all if not all shades of political opinion and affiliation were on one page and spoke with one voice. The closing of the market-place was purely voluntary and all this happened despite a neighbouring state's machinery conducting much intrigue to sabotage the possibility of such an event from happening. Like any public activity that doesn't blindly praise the 'benign efforts' of Pakistan for humanity, there was almost zero coverage of yesterday's event in mainstream Pakistani media.

The international media, academia and human rights organisations also pay scant attention to a standard of public discipline in the pursuit of basic rights - that compares favourably with other such examples, where large swathes of population are prevented from carrying out normal activity, which they - the public - voluntarily comply with.

Who do we take our case to?

We are living in a system of governance that has no legal or constitutional basis, is rather conducted according to 'informal arrangements' between the State of Pakistan and those who it pays wages to in AJK. This system has now been exposed and it doesn't know how to combat this public phenomenon that refuses to sell its soul while outsmarting state intrigue that seeks to divide public opinion.

We have no civil structure to communicate institutionally with the world. In other words, we do not exist in the comity of nations. This is despite having a diaspora in the developed democratic world amounting to over 1 million in population, most of whom reside in the United Kingdom. That very country that left us as a departing empire but with socio-political diseases that we are still trying to recover from.

UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group) operates here and has staff based in all major urban centres in AJK, however the most it can do is take a written memorandum/letter from you and pass it onto the Secretary-General's office in New York.

Here's my own personal experience from 2012 in Kotli - AJK



The UN has no formal framework for engaging with civil society in conflict zones, or at least not in the case of Jammu & Kashmir. The UN has a dedicated political department operating from its head office in New York. However, I have never received a reply to any correspondence with them. Needless to add, the UN Scertary-General's office never replies to any memorandums either, irrespective of whether they orignate from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir or Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Many countries that we have made contact with over the years, do engage with us privately but are always reluctant to develop any formal relationship, for fear or concern that their relationship with India and/or Pakistan may be adversely affected. 

That leaves us with little civil or peaceful means to address our plight. No matter how extensive and representative our public opinion surveys are and no matter how much discipline we adopt in displaying our power to paralyse main roads and urban centres in AJK, we are still resigned to being ignored by the thinking world.

This is a bitter reflection of the geo-political composition of our world today in 2018.

However, our struggle continues. Here we show an example of art and song to lift our spirits in a camp (erected by Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed Committee) that has now been running for 13 days next to the Deputy Commissioner's (DC) office in Rawalakot. It has been so many days since the DC has been absent and too scared to come to work.



Monday, April 30, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 120 of 2018

2305hrs:

Today was most certainly the busiest and most fabulous of days in public interest for many a year, if not unprecedented.

Rawalakot in particular and the citizens of Poonch in general proved that they are way ahead of the rest of us when it comes to advancing public issues....

Here's a video which captures the mood of the city:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 119 of 2018

Update: 2100hrs

Here's more footage from the 'revolutionary' camp in Rawalakot: I was asked to give my views on the arrest of 3 citizens for making a public announcement. You will find this interview of 3 minutes between 6: 20 and 9: 20 of the clip below:



Update: 1851hrs...
The local administration has just arrested 3 young political activists about half an hour ago, who were making a public announcement for a total closure of Rawalakot city tomorrow. So, the situation will become more tense as we edge closer to the 30th of April. Here's a live video broadcast from the camp yesterday in Urdu:



1622hrs:

This is the eve of possibly the most important events in the 71 year history of AJK. I'm in Rawalakot since midday yesterday, where a sustained sit-in by local citizens against the 'unjustified' killing of Naeem Butt (shot on the 16th of March and succumbed to his injuries on the 21st) has been continuing outside the DC's (Deputy Commissioner - Poonch) office since the 19th of April.

The action committee 'Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed Committee' has decided to paralyse public life throughout the district of Poonch tomorrow (30/04/18) in an effort to move towards a just resolution of this killing by AJK Police, whereby the AJK Government made a range of promises in the aftermath of Butt's death, none of which have been fulfilled. Here's Sardar Anwar giving a detailed description last night, of events over the past month or so:

   

Friday, April 27, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 117 of 2018

2313hrs.....

Have spent a lot of time thinking this morning. This novel opportunity was created on account of sitting indoors all day - as opposed to springing out in public every morning and conducting heavy duty public activism till the late hours of the night - except for a break for lunch in the afternoon when I couldn't help but capture the following absurd antic on my way back indoors:



Thursday, April 26, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 116 of 2018

0000hrs:

Damn.....net speed or my absent-mindedness or too consumed in other work.......???




If for nothing else, Mahmood Ahmed Musafir will always be remembered for activating the thought-process involved in making the above tweet a reality in AJK.

Today, we took the struggle of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir to the podium at Central Bar Association - Muzaffarabad. His speech was followed by me summarising the constitutional history of our territory and explaining the importance of freedom of speech, amongst other concepts. In fact, here's a bullet list of points that I made for my speech:

- In order to get the world to take us (The citizens of Jammu & Kashmir) seriously, we need to develop a consensus on public policy in our territory - with a clearly defined narrative - which reflects public opinion here.

- Jo khud apney hal ke liye jad o jehd karey usi ko dunya tawajo deti hay..na ke wo jo insaani huqooq ki khilaf warzi khud karey - dunya us ki wakaalat par tawajo de.....

(Translation: The world only gives attention to those who take the initiative to struggle for a solution...not those who commit human rights violations themselves - for the world does not take their advocacy seriously)

- Public opinion & future decision of territory...layers of hijack in sequence.

- To address our lack of agency, our public have never done tasks in sequence here...or read or understood in sequence either....

- K H Khursheed - most important politician to study - for forward movement in AJK

- Sardar Qayoom - If you want to study how AJK regressed. Cite example of 'Operation 70'....of 1990s - 10 nationalists times 7 districts (at time).

- Maharajah's stance:
For Jammu & Kashmir to be neutral like Switzerland
From autocracy to symbolic monarchy like Great Britain (United Kingdom) while transferring powers to Praja Sabha (People's Assembly).
We need to study documents of communication between State of J & K and British India pre 1947.

1947 timeline:

Beg. of Poonch Rebellion.....instability invoked/created

Indian Independence Act - 3 June announcement
7.2 ...Rulers deciding fate
Jinnah Sb's press info on 17 June...a constitutional expert's interpretation validating independence.

Standstill Agreement (an instrument of IIA)....understand...constitutional relationship starts here...how was that broken?

Pakistan's role...breaking agreement through witholding supplies and creating instabilty in State

August Partition

India's role....Changing from pro-independence PM of J & K State Ram Chander Kak to Indian Gen Janak Singh..then in October replacing him with M C Mahajan who was part of Radcliffe's team that divided Punjab. Who now prepares de facto extension of that 'Radcliffe Line' through the State of J & K.

4 October...
'Farzi naam' (superficial names of cabinet members)...announced in some hotel in Pakistan. Dubious in almost every sense.

22 October...
Qabaili (Tribal) attack

24 October.....
False statements in declaration:
1) We have taken control of most of state....
2) Non muslims will be consulted..

27 October
Indian role - Moundbatten - proviso of people's decision when peace returns

1948
UN - not our forum (yet?)

1949
Karachi Agreement - 28 April (info made public many months later according to Sneddon...Sardar Ibrahim also gave conflicting statements about it.
Karachi Agreement - 27 July - An agreement between the militaries of India and Pakistan - which is the basic uderstanding of mutually agreeing to control the population of J & K on either side.

1) Hard power compared to soft power

2) Muslims...Non Muslims....discussion debate....

3) Water use...key technology but attention deficit...both India and Pakistan extremely inefficient in managing water..so is rest of world proportionately.
Singapore has done extensive research on water management.

World media and academia, think-tanks....not paying enough attention to these concepts.

- Freedom of Expression is methodology....not any specific ideology

(It happens to be No.11 of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's 32 demands)

It also directly relates to the concept of self-determination

- I don't like terminologies like nationalist, tabqaati jad o jehd (class struggle), samraaj/mazdoor (imperial/ploretariat) etc...

- We are all citizens....and our organisational formation for a solution should voluntarily include each and every citizen...in the given defined territory (of AJK)...ascertained through State Subject Rule 1927.

- Trying to mobilise political party formation for delivery is impossible...politicking will damage any good work in public interest.

- Having grip of identifying difference between personal interest and public interest

- Change Dynamics
'Outside in' compared to 'Inside out'....latter is our approach using following 2 concepts

OBMs (Ownership-Building Measures) and Public Agency

- Have to streamline public opinion - to create genuine indigenous public policy.

- 1,000 most significant citizens proportional to tehsil population need to be identified and pitched..to develop a consensus in AJK

- There are 3 established means of ascertaining public opinion:

1) Elections - Under military occupation whereby format is designed and controlled by occupying power
2) Referendum - UK Brexit and Scottish Independence examples and how they were different from election results
3) Public Opinion Survey - cite example of Northern Ireland talks...survey used to advance table talk on peace..and develop agreement after many decades of conflict

Soft Power (What is it in the context of AJK?)

Make genuine space for religious minorities of our state in AJK

Examples:
1) Sharda for Kashmiri Pandits....boost civilization and economy...cite AJK Supreme Court Verdict....which became news on the 8th of February when Shujaat Bukhari wrote in Pakistan's Friday Times..

Quote Raja Farooq Haider and Pakistani Army opposition to Pandit re-entry (to Sharda) during discussion in 2010...
Interestingly, all my meetings with him have been while he was in opposition. I phoned his secretary last year..who put down phone when I asked for an appointment.
When I tried to contact Sardar Masood around the same time - his military sec/attache didn't give me an appointment.

2) Ali Beg Gurdwara for Sikhs of J & K - near district border of Bhimber and Mirpur (in close proximity to Upper Jhelum Canal)

- Meanwhile, an effort is being made to contact 650 MPs in UK Parliament..a 3 page document written by me has been circulated...to invoke a response and lobby for discussion in parliament.

- Question for Switzerland:
How much does it cost to pay for a neutral State?

- White flags in Azaadi Chowk - Muzaffarabad will send most powerul message to the world that we are ready for a solution.

- Open up narrative debate: (Competition between 3 nationalist narratives)

Create genuine public space

i.e. If someone in AJK can work for Pakistan, then how can working for India here be a crime? Particularly in the context of Pakistan's narrative that 'Kashmiris have only 2 options in the UN'.

- There is a lot of pent up intellectual curiosity in AJK...Educated members of the public desperately want to latch onto a constructive model for thinking and imagining a solution but can't see it even if it were decorated like a Pakistani truck.

That constructive model exists but needs an academic forum to discuss....and be cross-examined.

- Civil Society here doesn't have access to any international institution. Not even the United Nations Department for Political Affairs or UNMOGIP (Created by the disbanded UNCIP which in turn emerged via UN Security Council Resolution No. 47 of 21 April 1948)

Where's the space and scope for peaceful activism here?

- On 18th April, even Theresa May probably forgot to mention the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, in her hurried and tired response to a question from the opposition bench in parliament.

Finally, it should be mentioned that a sweet and sour bulldozer was metaphorically used by the AJK Government to combat Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's genuine quest for basic public service delivery here.

In my opinion, talks on Monday the 23rd April with the AJK Govt were merely the 2nd round of a boxing match of 12 rounds....

End..

Note:

Not all the points were mentioned due to lack of time (13 minutes). The above as stated at the outset of my speech are points more suited for an academic forum. At the end of my speech, I urged the lawyers of Muzaffarabad to help the rest of civil society arrange such a discussion at AJK University - Muzaffarabad. More importantly, for Mahmood Ahmed Musafir and his unique struggle.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 112 of 2018

1245hrs:


Sunday is sometimes a typical languid day, as tradition has determined for many a territory throughout the world. Preliminary talks between Mahmood Ahmed Musafir and the AJK administration yesterday, developed a thaw between the 2 adversaries to some extent.

Our people are wonderfully understanding and helpful when they want to be but terribly cruel and apathetic otherwise. Those who genuinely work in public interest and consistently prove their mettle over the years, do get their fair share of the limelight and praise. However, the standards that the public at large and fellow activists expect of them can be considered as harsh or super-human even. For example, someone who spends their own money in public interest is expected to refrain from mentioning it in public. In other words, crying and complaing are not allowed.

The other 'micro' aspect of our collective behaviour is that the public expects 'the' activist to refrain from centralising all attention around him (or her). Other members who undoubtedly play key roles in advancing public interest, rightly expect their contribution to be acknowledged and discussed. On my part, I hope I can address these weaknesses in my person, which will undoubtedly advance public interest even further...

Meanwhile, talks with the AJK State and representatives of Pakistan's federation will possibly take place tomorrow or the day after. We remain camped at the revolutionary 'base camp' on Bank Road - Muzaffarabad.   

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 111 of 2018

0956hrs:

Its a bright day after almost 15 days of incessant rain. Mahmood Ahmed Musafir has also recovered his health to the extent of wanting to get back to his camp on Bank Road. We hope the public can become more pro-active in taking this effort to its logical conclusion.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 110 of 2018

And I missed the midnight deadline by seconds..mainly because I didn't realise till 5 minutes before and the speed here is so slow, that it could a few seconds more than 5 minutes to type the title and a couple of commas here before..........the clock changed date!

Time management is an elusive skill, at least in my case. The nature of public activity here usually has to conform to the erratic mind-set of the 'public' mind. It is difficult - even at the best of times to predict how one's day will be managed. When you haven't kept a single rupee in your pocket for days on end but still manage to travel wherever you want and almost always eat and drink what you want, you realise that whatever is happening is way beyond human control.

Heavenly bliss co-exists with blood, sweat, toil and sacrifice. That must never be forgotten. For every public engagement of a public activist, there is negligence of duty on a personal level. One's family suffers, is not able to exercise choice or variety in lifestyle in the manner that normal families do.

It should also be noted that the rich experience of public life one encounters every day accumulates as content for social science research amongst many other fields. How I am going to be able to formalise all of it for the academic record is a dilemma which increases in intensity with the passing of each day.

If only I could write a measured summary of each day's proceedings here on this blog, I would die a happy man.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 106 of 2018

1322hrs:

We're in Arja where the weather has prevented us from proceeding forward towards Muzaffarabad.

Just in case you're not aware of who 'we' are or why 'we' are trying to proceed to Muzaffarabad, just imagine living in a territory which is not recognised by any institution or country in the world. Then imagine what kind of legal/administrative framework the people within that territory are living in.

'We' includes Mahmood Ahmed Musafir foremost, accompanied by yours truly, Sardar Shameem and his son Omar. 'We' are trying to peacefully and carefully address our 71 year old non-existence in the comity of nations. Otherwise, we describe our territory as the 'free' part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir or AJK (Azad Jammu & Kashmir).

We're particularly concerned at the use of the word 'Azad' (free) for a territory that doesn't give any meaningful space for freedom of expression, in any form.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 105 of 2018

0017hrs:

I missed out on posting before the midnight deadline. Electricity load-shedding could be blamed without reserve.

Here are 2 facebook live videos (recorded) from this evening in Hajeera. A buzzing metropolis and by far the most active tehsil (subdivision) with respect to public interest in AJK.



This second facebook live video is an interview by Mohsin Mumtaz:



The following is commentary for those well versed in English

Friday, April 13, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 103 of 2018

c.2200hrs:

Yes......another day in the field.

A creative activity:
The citizens of Kotli have performed a (symbolic) funeral prayer over the death of the State of #AJK in its current 71 year old incarnation.

What are we looking for in this 'second round' (Kotli to Muzaffarabad) while Mahmood Ahmed Musafir waits for his animals to be transported back to Kohalla?

1) For all citizens working for the State of AJK (local admin, judiciary and politicians) to make a conscious decision of whether they want to support public interest or the occupation.

2) For our citizens living throughout the United Kingdom to contact their MP in Britain and seek a written response to the letter addressed to their government. Furthermore, to seek their opinion on whether the contents of the letter can invoke a question/debate in the House of Commons.

3) That all citizens of AJK help us find volunteers to participate in this March to Muzaffarabad. We aim to mobilise at least 1,000 citizens on this journey before reaching Kohalla. These citizens should be willing to participate in a peaceful sit-in at Azaadi Chowk - Muzaffarabad, until the resolution of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's 32 point public agenda.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 102 of 2018

2336hrs:

I didn't actually get much sleep last night and I was up at 0800hrs........Yet another hectic day which hasn't finished yet.......

Here's a very frank explanation of how the 'occupying forces' control the public narrative in AJK:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 101 of 2018

2208hrs:

Finally, some rest........

Here's an interview given yesterday afternoon to a journalist in City Thana - Muzaffarabad, after I was prevented from carrying out public interest activity at Azaadi Chowk.



Earlier, here's the first video of two from yesterday morning.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 100 of 2018

0320hrs:

Edging closer to the moment......

Here's a programme dedicated to the impending and indefinite hunger strike till death or resolution, in Muzaffarabad:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 99 of 2018

0203hrs:

It was a Sunday yesterday..............so some slack was warranted.....however.......it was still intense at times......

1131hrs:

Into the final stages of my preparation for a 'do or die' hunger strike in Muzaffarabad. This will be the banner describing my rationale.



In a territory which describes itself as a democracy and bases its existence on securing the right of its people to decide their future, there appears to be zero scope for peaceful activism which can lead to resolution of matters in public interest. Hence, a 'do or die' scenario emerges whereby one either commits the 'powers that be' to seriously engage or.............

And here is that letter for the international community:


The Territorial Enigma that is AJK

(AJK is ‘officially’ translated as the ‘free’ part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir)

This is a letter addressed in particular to the:

1)      United Kingdom (UK)
2)      United Nations (UN)

and the

3)      European Union (EU)

Subject: An indefinite hunger strike till death or resolution in Muzaffarabad - AJK

By: Tanveer Ahmed (An independent researcher/activist based in AJK, un-interrupted since 2005)

Date: 09/04/18

Dear All,

I’ll begin by quoting a UK citizen in recent correspondence:

“I concede, as someone very comfortable with a Pakistani identity but unhappy with Pakistan’s political culture, that AJK is a sham democracy. This is not in dispute, numerous Pakistani journalists have reported on the status of your State as not “free”. Numerous books and NGO reports exist to that effect.”

By 2018, the human race has evolved to an unprecedented level of sophistication in communications technology and consensual governance. Despite which, I am writing this letter to emphasise that the territory which I’ve inherited along with my co-citizens in 1947, remains amongst the most deeply regressive and enslaved, in conscience as well as in physical structure.

Having lived in the UK for about 28 of my 46 years, whatever I have been doing in terms of research and peaceful activism here for the past 13 years, is a consequence of my upbringing in a democratic environment; where diversity of origin and expression were considered to be the binding strengths of that society. Where multiple narratives invoked intellectual curiosity and institutions facilitated economic opportunity, provided free justice based on merit and protected our life, wealth and honour as equal citizens.

AJK is usually described as “Pakistani-administered Kashmir” by the international community at large. Without legal or constitutional basis, its governing system adheres to a de-facto imposed mono-narrative whereby Pakistan’s perceived ‘national interest’ is strictly adhered to. This system is no less fascistic than Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, only that it doesn’t advocate racial supremacy but rather a contorted ‘version’ of Islam, which assumes in its ultimate analysis that only Muslims have an exclusive right to govern and dominate the world.

Western civilisation made a concerted effort to address their dilemma through instruments such as the UN Charter. Britain and other European colonialists gave access to their former ‘subjects’ to enter the ‘mother’ country and participate in their economic prosperity post World War 2. However, what we are experiencing today in AJK is a direct legacy of the British Empire. What the UK enjoys in terms of a tolerant multi-religious society is exactly the opposite of what they left us with.

 Those of us who migrated bore fruit while those of us left behind inherited an inhumane structure, whose ill-effects are so deep that one sees no scope for a peaceful resolution, even after 13 years of consistent activism on the ground.

We also understand that the global structure of nation-states necessitates that other countries or global institutions – inadvertently in some cases perhaps – provide no recognised institutional framework for resolution of conflict. Contemporary frameworks only recognise nation-states - irrespective of their legitimacy or otherwise - and do not recognise people or nations occupied. Democracy is practiced in the developed world but not measured when assessing the role of transgressing nation-states in other territories.

We, as a disenfranchised people in AJK want to take control of our own public affairs - on a live and let live basis - not unlike Switzerland which has been neutral between much more powerful neighbours. We don’t want to be dragged deeper into a proxy war between our neighbours who are essentially fighting over control of our water resources, under the ideological guise of ‘Pakistani nationalist Islamism’ vs ‘Indian nationalist secularism’.

We reside in a physical space just below the highest mountain ranges of the world and lie central to not only most of the world’s population but between various civilisations. It is simply un-natural for us to abide by a mono-narrative whilst continuing to act as fodder to a conflict that can quite easily be resolved by water management technology; a field of knowledge that even the developed Western world has not paid sufficient attention to. Human evolution requires us to be pro-active to avert future conflict.       

Our narrative as described above is not merely an individual’s opinion but a summary of 13 years of accumulated collective wisdom, derived from each and every category of citizen residing throughout this territory. We are also proud to have conducted the most comprehensive citizen public opinion survey (in proportion to the population) ever conducted throughout the world, although I remain open to correction if warranted.

In 1947, the last autocratic ruler of this territory - Maharajah Hari Singh - wanted the whole of his inherited State to be a neutral country like Switzerland, where he would transfer all matters of governance to an elected assembly of political representatives while remaining a symbolic monarch, not too dissimilar to Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom. When the Maharajah wrote to the Governor General of India for military assistance to quell the tribal invasion from Pakistan, the response from Louis Mountbatten was pre-conditioned with a proviso that when peace is restored in the territory, then the question of the State’s future would be decided by its inhabitants. In 1948, when India made its opening argument in the UN in reference to its complaint against Pakistan, it specifically and category expressed its desire for the State’s future to be decided by its people: whether they wanted to accede to India or Pakistan or remain independent. 71 years later, the people’s will is yet to be considered as the exclusive arbiter of the State’s future.

From historical context to today’s letter - which in all probability could be the last letter that I ever write - recent events in our territory have forced my hand and I am left with no option but to adopt the tool of last resort for peaceful activism viz. a hunger strike till death or resolution. I don’t want to physically fight with my immediate occupier (Pakistan) and I have no bone to pick with the world. I want our political representatives, our judiciary and our administration to be free of external influence and exclusively accountable to the citizens of this territory, which constitutes barely 6% of the whole of the erstwhile Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir. I understand that there is no single member of the AJK Government who can successfully wrestle back our usurped rights. Any politician who tries is immediately or gradually marginalised. Indeed, the current ‘Prime Minister’ of AJK appears to be suffering from this very predicament.

Two recent events have shaken me and brought me to this juncture:

1)      Naeem Butt – Was a dedicated political worker representing JKLF. He was shot on the 16th of March by AJK police, for peacefully protesting against the mounting deaths of civilians caused by cross-LOC firing between India and Pakistan. He succumbed to his wounds on the 21st of March.

2)      Mahmood Ahmed Musafir – Is a seasoned activist since 1984 who annually conducts a ‘creative’ public event in favour of the basic rights of the citizens of this territory. On the 27th of February, he began a walk for 300 kilometres from one end of AJK (Bhimber) to the other (Muzaffarabad), armed with 32 demands in public interest and accompanied by 3 donkeys and a camel, in search of humans who may assist in creating genuine legislation in AJK. On the 5th of April, Mahmood was prevented from proceeding about 35 kilometres short of the capital Muzaffarabad. The police were directed to forcefully stall his efforts and return him and his animals to his home district of Kotli. He remains in hospital fighting death with life after the enormous amount of mental torture he was put under. As the AJK Government doesn’t possess the necessary legislative powers to consider his demands, they felt it expedient to brush him ‘under the carpet’.

This pattern of repression, consistent since 1947 motivated me to forego my journalistic career covering other global hotspots and settle in the territory of my birth. Activism in pursuit of public interest in this territory is the most difficult, dangerous, time-consuming and expensive (in terms of opportunity cost) activity to do here. Society as a whole is nurtured, engineered and structured to assist the imposed mono-narrative by only paying attention to issues from which private/individual monetary benefit can accrue. This applies to all walks of life and is precisely what sustains the occupation.              

We, the citizens of AJK are in search of humans to understand our plight....and recognition from the outside world that we are proactive in trying to create an appropriate forum to resolve our issues with our neighbours.

Best wishes

Tanveer Ahmed

Contact: 00 92 (0) 345 5044252
Blog: tanveerandkashmir.blogspot.com
Twitter: @sahaafi

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