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Wednesday, 23 May 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, 21 May 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:

Meanwhile, here's a larger (10 x 5 metres) banner for his camp - with both English and Urdu messages (unlike yesterday's uploaded banner) - donated by a kind citizen of Dadyaal:








Sunday, 20 May 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:




Saturday, 19 May 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, 17 May 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, 14 May 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, 12 May 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, 10 May 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, 8 May 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, 4 May 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, 3 May 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, 1 May 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.



Daily Diary (DD) - Day 112 of 2019

2220hrs: Back in Dadyaal. I'd been almost bombarded with cruelty over the past week but this evening I was hit with some kindness. ...