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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 212 of 2018

2321hrs:

Trying to push on with my next task: An open letter to Pakistan's likely forthcoming prime minister Imran Khan. The last time we met was in Gaddafi cricket stadium Lahore when India beat Pakistan to win the one day (5 match) series in 2004. He was working as a commentator while I was covering the series as a journalist for a British weekly newspaper.

 

Monday, 30 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 211 of 2018

0654hrs:

I have just been trying to complete some work for one of the very few people in this territory, who have staked their all for public interest here: Mahmood Ahmed Musafir

In the absence of a response from UNHCR: Mahmood, now into his 77th day of a hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club, has asked me to send a letter to these 5 countries. Of course, he never wanted to leave his beloved motherland but he is almost convinced that his talent and skill will be wasted here. Only for our co-citizens to celebrate his death and eulogize him eternally. That is the custom thus far:

Here it is:


An Appeal for Parity in Opportunity for Aspiring Citizens throughout the World

This letter has been separately addressed to the ‘Heads of State’ of 5 countries of the world via their consulates in Islamabad - Pakistan

Namely:

1                                   Germany - Addressed to Her Excellency: Chancellor - Angela Merkel
2                                   Japan - Addressed to His Excellency: Emperor - Akihito
3                                   United Kingdom (UK) - Addressed to Her Majesty: Queen Elizabeth II
4                                   Philippines - Addressed to His Excellency: President Rodrigo Duterte
5                                   Malaysia - Addressed to His Excellency: King - Muhammad V of Kelantan

Your Excellency

We live in a territory which is constitutionally ambiguous as well as a conflict zone. Both these characteristics were imposed from outside and have endured for almost 71 years. Though the official title of this territory is Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) which translates to ‘The free part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir’, the only freedom available here is that which associates with no responsibility.

The point of addressing this letter to your country is to alert you to the personal quest of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir who has been a public rights activist in AJK for the past 34 years (since 1984). Every year he has conducted various creative activities to highlight prevailing issues in public interest throughout AJK. In the particular context of this letter, he has tried to convince the AJK government to invest in alternative electricity generation from wind and mechanical power, not least to resolve the persistent shortage of electricity in AJK and Pakistan.  

As you will no doubt understand from the details below, there has been no will shown by the government of AJK or the State of Pakistan to pay due attention to what he has to offer. Hence, as he’s entering the twilight of his life he wishes for some thoughtful country to provide him the necessary environment, whereby he could utilise his skills to create alternative power generation. He would concentrate on wind and mechanical power without resorting to established methods such as water, diesel, petrol, gas, kerosene/paraffin, coal, solar power, atomic power, dry battery, sea waves and waste/rubbish.

This year, on the 27th of February Mahmood began a c. 300 kilometre walk from Bhimber (in the south of AJK to Muzaffarabad (in the north of AJK) with 3 donkeys and a camel in tow, to highlight the absence of governance and legislation in AJK. The donkeys pulled a cart which had a banner enlisting 32 demands in public interest:


The local government of AJK did engage with him on a couple of occasions but they expressed their helplessness, on account of all crucial powers vesting with the State of Pakistan. In between, they tried their best to avoid having to sit and talk with him.

Subsequently, Mahmood began an indefinite hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club on the 14th of May. It has been 77 days (at the time of writing), though he is just taking liquids to sustain himself while refraining from solid food altogether. At no point did any representative of the Pakistani state do as much as visit him or enquire about his well-being. Meanwhile, he tried to engage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) representative in Islamabad but found it difficult to maintain a conversation with them. Here are links to the communication that he had:

1) His first letter to them:

2) Their response:

3) His follow-up:

4) His as yet un-answered reminder to the follow-up letter:

In summary, the example of Mahmood Ahmed is not so unique, given the status of our territory. Anybody who has talent in any particular field is not able to develop themselves in a territory operating under constitutional ambiguity along with 2 neighbours fiercely contesting it, thus converting it into a conflict zone. As yet, there is no scope for genuine democracy, governance or human progress here in AJK.

We hope your country can provide a convenient environment for him to proceed in his pursuit to serve humanity, by assisting him to develop alternative energy via wind and mechanical power. A technology that our region can so desperately do with but where the structure of governance provides no scope for such endeavour, rather all they can do is to inhibit it.

Regards

Mahmood Ahmed

Contact: (00 92) 0306 5838206 / 0341 5935557


end..........

Notice that I haven't used my name or that of AJK Public Agency. This was at the specific request of Mahmood Sb. I will deal with this strategy or thought process in due course.


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 210 of 2018

2202hrs:

Today has been a productive day, though it would have been far more productive if only the internet speed was at a level most of the 'connected world' is accustomed to. I have been trying to upload a 500MB file since about this time yesterday, it is still 6% away from completion. Navigating various websites is tedious as they don't open on demand, rather one has to click multiple times over a period of time to try and get access to bandwith, deliberately in short supply.

However, that is only one of the many structured/habitual hindrances that one encounters on a daily basis.

AJK is a deep black hole and our society has traditionally navigated around our problems rather than confront them directly. That has always seemed to be the pragmatic option but over time it has made our collective plight more acute. Those of us who do confront our problems directly are not supported adequately by the rest.

There are many factors at play here:

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 209 of 2018

2309hrs:

I think it's high time that I begin giving a more detailed description of how tough life is in AJK.

The intention is not to gain sympathy so that my co-citizens have mercy on my condition and neither is it my intention to vilify anybody to satisfy my ego. Rather the intention is to make my co-citizens understand that we continue to make all those micro-errors in our quest for justice, just as we have been doing for the past 71 years.

There will always be self-less and committed people to fight for our collective rights but we won't achieve success unless a critical mass of us observe due diligence of those fighting our corner and devote (or divert) resources to their struggle according to our capacity.

One must always introspect, protect the people's emotions while gently trying to cajole them to do their bit to further public interest.

For the past few months, I have tried my best to avoid encountering cash as much as possible. As I have been relying on the public at large to support and sustain my efforts in public interest, social experimentation to avoid the use of cash (or in a practical sense - to minimise its use) does help me simplify my life. The less accounting that I have to do, the more I can concentrate on the work at hand.

This also means that I have now gradually got used to just eating one meal a day, cut down drastically on cigarettes and thus created more time to deal with the increasing amount of tasks, either set out for me or which I deem to merit attention.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 208 of 2018

2331hrs:

Another day, another task in public interest. They don't diminish by the day, they only increase. The time that is at our disposal cannot be measured, as who knows how long one is going to live.

An extra task emerged today from a suggestion from the AJK diaspora, to write an open letter to Pakistan's incoming prime minister, putting our relationship with that country into sharp context.

It hasn't been drafted yet but I'm working on it.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 207 of 2018

2322hrs:

I have finally managed to write up a detailed version of what I describe as AJK Public Agency. Though I completed it a couple of days ago - this task was pending since November last year (2017) - it was published today at Portmir.org.uk under the title "Reclaiming Azad Jammu Kashmir For Her People"

A lot has happened in the neighbourhood since the last time I blogged.

In the Rawalakot neighbourhood:

I visited Rawalakot District Courts after many a day (over 2 weeks at least) yesterday. There are no lawyers in sight, public is sparse and there are no journalists around either. After a few minutes it dawns on me that today is 'General' election day in Pakistan.

Why is there a holiday in AJK though?

I then walked to my jeep (which has now been parked here since Eid) and to my modest surprise I find this bottle of Whisky on the floor behind the driver's seat:


I say modest surprise because having kept my front windows permanently open for many years (even in public places around the clock), I knew at some point that something would be planted in my vehicle. Alas! it was an empty bottle and though the local police were alerted to its presence, local public agency was there to intervene in my absence (and without feeling the need to alert me) and the conspiracy could not develop.

At this stage, we can only speculate as to who might have placed it there and what for purpose, if any at all.

The clandestine agencies of our neighbouring country are always - on account of their track record in this territory - prime suspect. However, without comprehensive proof it would be folly to point a finger in their direction. The other prevalent theory is that our courts in AJK (and not just Rawalakot) have a certain tendency to consume liquid in its bitter intoxicating form. Someone of that ilk may have found it convenient to leave an empty there in me vehicle. It should be stated that according to various members of the local public here, such empty bottles have been regularly found in the vicinity of the courts. Some months ago, locals had even considered launching a public campaign against this activity.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of messages for our Pakistani citizens in particular:

"Congratulations to PTI for emerging as a third political force in Pakistan. We hope our neighbouring country will emerge out of the multitude of challenges facing it. I wish to distribute sweets to my Pakistani neighbours on this occasion."

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir - on his 73rd day of a hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club.




"We would like to be the first country in the world to invite the new Pakistani prime minister to our territory for unconditional and insightful talks on the future relationship between AJK and Pakistan."

Tanveer Ahmed - in Rawalakot having witnessed the longest blackout of electricity in recent times (c. 23 hours - between 3pm yesterday 25/07/18 and 2pm today 26/07/18).


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 205 of 2018

0245hrs:

Not for the first time, I have missed out on posting a blog entry for the previous day (in this case Day 204), purely on account of a dismal net service that took over 2 hours to navigate me to this page.

In AJK, we take the absence of governance on the chin every day.

We also spend most of every day working for our public without any expectation of financial reward. Thirteen years ago, I wouldn't have thought I was capable of such an approach but we plug on, dig in and remain confident that the people of this territory will succeed - sooner or later - in our collective ambition to gain recognition in the comity of nations.

There appears no other means of establishing a system of governance here. Without governance, the human tragedies that have multiplied and rippled throughout our public space cannot be averted.

We remain in gestation mode but........will emerge much stronger when our time arrives. 

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 203 of 2018

2351hrs:

This is monsoon season in what is already quite a cool environment here in Rawalakot. This is how it looks during the day:



It has been fascinating to read about debates in the House of Commons between 1919 to 1935

Here are a couple of links which enhance our theory that much of what happened in 1947 during the transfer of power from the British Indian Empire to India, Pakistan and the creation of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute may have been rushed by the outgoing empire but there was nothing unplanned about the manner in which they departed:

New Clause. - (Ruler of State may exclude application of provisions as to water supply.) (11 Apr 1935)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1935-04-11a.1417.4&s=Kashmir#g1420.3
...the whole of the machinery for settling disputes hanging in the air.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox)
mentioned the very dominating position in which the State of *Kashmir*
stands in regard to water supplies. Already there has been a dispute
between the two Provinces of the Punjab and Bombay in regard to water
emanating largely from that State of *Kashmir*, and I...

Orders of the Day - Government of India Bill.: Fifth Schedule. - (Composition of Provincial Legislatures.) (8 May 1935)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1935-05-08a.992.4&s=Kashmir#g1032.1
...submitted to the Joint Parliamentary Committee suggesting that at
some date there would be a federation of Moslems comprising Baluchistan,
Sind, the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Provinces and *Kashmir*, and
it was proposed that with them was to be federated Afghanistan. Such an
arrangement is not in accordance with our traditional ideas of Moslem
loyalty, and would be quite inconsistent...

Here in AJK, we are suffering from that legacy which the United Kingdom of today consistently absolves itself of any responsibility to address. Leaving us at the mercy of a Pakistan that has yet to invest in the art of governance after more than 70 years.

Meanwhile, the sky in Muzaffarabad looked rather more active as captured by our co-citizen:




Saturday, 21 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 202 of 2018

2323hrs:

Having generated so much data over the years without organising or categorising it except marking each item by the dates on which each piece of audio, text, video or photo was created; means that I have to spend a lot of time just sifting through gigabyte (GB) after gigabyte of data to extract the pearls of wisdom that need to be analysed and published in public interest.

This takes days followed by weeks and months before one can publish something comprehensive and representative of the people's aspirations.

It is fortunate that I spent the winter of 2016 and the spring of 2017 sifting through all relevant data for the Citizen Public Opinion Survey Report - AJK , a summary of which was published on July the 13th last year. Now, I don't have that much to do to produce the detailed academic version of the report which I'm hoping to publish in a recognised academic journal soon.

That still leaves me with a substantial amount of data that I need to organise otherwise, not least to make sense of my work for our public (of AJK) as well as for the rest of the world in general.

As intimated in an earlier blog entry, not a day passes when some issue or the other related to governance is brought to my attention with an appeal for help.

For example, I received a call today from an employee of the Population Welfare Department who along with over a hundred colleagues of his hasn't been paid for over a year. In another example, a co-citizen expressed his anguish over his cousin being stranded in Cyprus and who wanted to confirm whether that country was a part of Europe (or rather the EU). 

Meanwhile, in Pakistan (with a general election campaign in full swing) it appears that the 'chickens are coming home to roost' vis a vis Pakistan's military and its agencies.

Western publications including the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal raise important questions about the Pakistani military's alleged role in orchestrating the upcoming result on the 25th.

Even a sitting High Court judge has by-passed protocol to implicate their role in Pakistan's governance:








Friday, 20 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 201 of 2018

2350hrs:

The terms pro-life and counter-terrorism strategy should become synonymous in our journey towards fulfillment of agency, autonomy and transformation in AJK.

We say this despite operating in a virtual minefield where everything from where and how we live, to what we eat and drink, to how and where we travel to counters obstacles and inhumanity at every juncture.

One couldn't have wished for a more daunting challenge even if it was totally imagined.

This is as real as reality can be and there can be nothing more cruel or harsh than having no direct access to the outside world in this day and age.




Thursday, 19 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 200 of 2018

2348hrs:

Day 200 already!

Today has been devoted to understanding the anxieties and prevailing issues that our diaspora in the UK feel a need to counter, in their belated journey to identity > agency > autonomy (in its purest sense) > transformation.

The article below has generated much illuminating discussion and I hope my co-citizens who have an interest in bridging the gap; between the genuine aspirations of people living in AJK and their diaspora in the UK, participate or at least peruse this article:

The Mirpuri Villain

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 199 of 2018

2227hrs:


Though I am well settled in the clouds of Rawalakot while I try and devote most if not all my time to preparing a thorough academic version of the Citizen Public Opinion Survey - AJK , not a day passes when an example or two of mis-governance in AJK comes to my notice. Issues related to the absence of merit in government job vacancies is particularly common. I have always felt that the absence of meritocracy, accountability and transparency in governance here will drive our people mad at some stage. Most people have thus far been pragmatic by by-passing this inhumane structure and venturing out to any part of the world that will provide them economic opportunity.

Meanwhile, the citizen of our territory who has staked his all in addressing the absence of governance here is now into his 66th day of a hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club: Mahmood Ahmed Musafir

The UN in the shape of its organ: UNHCR also seems to be dragging its feet and here is our latest letter to them:

The Unusual Case of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir and a Request for an Appointment with the Head of UNHCR in Islamabad

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,

Further to our letter of 19th June to you, this is a reminder as well as a request for an appointment for our representative to visit you at your head office in Islamabad.

This is in response to not having received a reply to our letter as described above and further to learning that your secondary office at the details below - as described on your website - is no longer active:

UNHCR Islamabad
Inquiry day: Every other Wednesday (9:00-16:30)
Address: SHARP Office, House no. 279-A, Nazim ud din Road, F-10/1

We were informed through our representative that the alternative address given over the phone was also not accessible.

Given the serious nature of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's plight - he is now into his 66th day of a hunger strike outside Islamabad Press Club - and the very limited options he has available to resolve his quest for a system of governance in AJK, we would humbly request that you grant some time to our representative namely Muhammed Haroon to discuss the nuances of this unusual case and try and find a practical resolution to Mahmood's dilemma.

In the interim, Mahmood Ahmed Musafir has continued seeking institutional means to resolve his demands in public interest. For example, he contacted the Ministry of Human Rights (a federal government agency in Pakistan) yesterday on the number 051 9221704 at 1236hrs in an effort to put forward his case. However, the response he received was cold and the suggestion the person at the other end of the line gave him was, "Do whatever you want - If you die, who cares? If you survive, you'll end up in jail."

It should also be clear that in all these 66 days thus far, the government of Pakistan has not as much as enquired about his condition (of health) or his demands (in public interest).

As for the possibility of Mahmood travelling to another country to make an application for refugee status, it is unlikely that he would be able to obtain a travel document given that during his 34 years of working in pursuit of public interest in AJK, the local authorities had declared him insane on account of his efforts on a number of occasions.

For example, on the 21st of April 1996, when Mahmood had begun a hunger strike outside the President's house in Muzaffarabad (the capital of AJK), he was arrested at 10pm by the local police and the then ASI (Assistant Sub-Inspector) at Jalalabad Chowki (Police check-post) Sultan Awan had declared him insane and capable of doing anything. Indeed, these were the words put to the then senior sub-judge Bashir Ahmed Mughal in court the next morning. After a further 2 days in custody, Mahmood Ahmed Musafir was released without bail.

Hence, our request for a formal meeting in person between the head of UNHCR in Pakistan and our representative Muhammed Haroon (on behalf of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir) at your head office in Islamabad in the coming days.

If, as the premier forum in the world, the UN (via its organs) is unable to assist Mahmood Ahmed Musafir in his 'pro-life' campaign and if their stance is practically similar to what the AJK Government and the Pakistani Government has displayed thus far, then in Mahmood's opinion this would be tantamount to a global conspiracy against the development of this region.

Thanking you in anticipation

Regards

Tanveer Ahmed (on behalf of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir)

Founder - AJK Public Agency

www.ajkpublicagency.org

Contact: 03455044252

End....

There has been further coverage of Mahmood by Sudhnuti News in the meantime. Here's a clip from the 10th of July:




Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 198 of 2018

2352hrs:

Certainly the longest break - 11 days without daily blogging - so far and hardly warranted I should add.

The FIFA World Cup has ended in the meantime......

We made our first query with respect to AJK being added - as a contender to the qualifying groups from Asia for FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.....while watching the energetic Croatians pile pressure on the French defence during the first half of Sunday's final.

Croatia's population is c. 4 million. Ours could well be above 5 million especially when we add the diaspora.

Here's the text of the initial enquiry to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) via email that day (Day 196):

Procedure for applying for FIFA membership ref. AJK

Tanveer Ahmed
15 Jul 2018, 20:48
to media@the-afc.com

Dear AFC,

We are not sure whether this is the appropriate forum to make a formal application for FIFA (and by extension AFC) membership, with a view to participating in the qualifying campaign for the next world cup in Qatar 2022 (from Asia).

Our 'country' is officially described as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK is an acronym) and it translates as the free part of Jammu and Kashmir, which is intermittently but fiercely contested between India and Pakistan.

Our territory boasts having it's own prime minister, president, supreme court and constitution with a clearly defined territory including an over 1 million strong diaspora in the developed world.

We are a keen footballing nation and are confident of qualifying from Asia.

We would be grateful if the AFC can guide us on how and what are the appropriate steps that we need to take.

In earnest

Tanveer Ahmed

Founder: AJK Public Agency

ajkpublicagency.org

Contact: 0092 3455044252


Friday, 6 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 187 of 2018

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, 4 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 185 of 2018

2337hrs:

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


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 184 of 2018

2130hrs:

The following is an insight into another aspect of my typical day. I'm sure some of it may seem cryptic but I can assure you it's all part of an organised whole.

.....

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Said someone in a particular context...though some (or many) may argue it to be a universal truth.

.....

British Library List cont....

Culture and political history of Kashmir.

The legacy of Kashmir, Ladakh & Skardu / by Arthur Neve.

How a mission began in Cashmere / by F.H.T. Ho¨ppner.

Third Round Table on Jammu and Kashmir
Puri, B.

Jammu and Kashmir – boundaries and movements
Sökefeld, Martin

State of Jammu and Kashmir's Economy
Navlakha, G.

....

Cont. with HR Report on Kashmir

The “Azad Jammu and Kashmir Adaptation of Laws Act, 1988” adapts and enforces several Pakistani laws in AJK.320

Monday, 2 July 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, 1 July 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. 

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. ...