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Monday, 24 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 175 of 2019

1611hrs:

A very wet day in Muzaffarabad today. It almost feels like a fantastic gift from the Almighty, in what is usually a sweltering summer day in June.

Somehow, I've developed a knack of being present in or nearby the heart of public activity. On this occasion, it wasn't at the scene of public protests on the streets but within a hectic government department, which are normally anything but hectic. It so happens that a Hindu member of Pakistan's national assembly, namely PTI's Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has arrived in Muzaffarabad and will be proceeding to Sharda tomorrow morning. As such visits engage much of the government machinery who are normally not used to efficiently putting things together in good time, a huge panic has ensued among relevant government servants.

 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 173 of 2019

0929hrs: 

Forts were built to defend warrior/kings and their conquered territories from the enemy. We have our own Red Fort in Muzaffarabad which was built centuries ago but has endured decades of neglect since 1947. 

Here's a video of it that I made almost 8 years ago:



Can it be restored? More pointedly, can its use be transformed to better suit contemporary public interest?  

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I usually translate any content embedded here. However, on this occasion I will confine the privilege of understanding the following to my Urdu readers. Most certainly, they need to understand the message more than anyone else:



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Friday, 21 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 172 of 2019

0026hrs:

The slogan "Tu Abaad Me Abaad - Muzaffarabad,,Muzaffarabad" (Dear Muzaffarabad: If you're populated/settled/prosperous then so am I) has been ringing in my ears for the past few months, gradually as if it is proceeding towards a crescendo. 

The concepts of rule of law and freedom of assembly are also constantly 'playing' in the background.

After all, my current address is Azaadi Chowk.

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The following should be self-explanatory for my co-citizens but alas....
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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 171 of 2019

1743hrs:

Muzaffarabad can be really hard work at times.......our people fear change as much as they aspire for it. Claiming ownership of a territory isn't possible when your actions belie even being classified as a tenant. There is an inverse relationship between fear and opportunity in the context of fundamental rights. If you don't embolden yourself, you are emboldening your adversary.

Change is the only constant in history. One can even take inspiration whilst sitting in a room with a view, by noticing how the weather has changed in a matter of minutes:


Reasonably sunny
Torrential rain
I wanted to translate the following Facebook post from a couple of days ago for its insightful comparative analysis between how water and power generation issues are dealt with in Pakistan compared to the 'imposed sacrifices' we have to put up with in AJK and GB:



Translated thus:

Last year in June, the then Chief Justice (of Pakistan's Supreme Court) Saaqib Nisaar said that whosoever opposes the construction of Kalabagh Dam will be prosecuted under article 16. Precisely 15 minutes later, Sayed Nasir Shah, a minister in Sindh (Pakistan's Southern province) adroitly responded to the Chief Justice's statement thus, "Whosoever will support the construction of Kalabagh Dam will be prosecuted under article 16!" 

I dare any bold soul in Punjab, Kashmir (AJK) or Gilgit (GB) to respond to a serving Chief Justice in such a manner!

(Meanwhile) After this stern response (from the Sindhi minister) the Cheif Justice never again as much as mentioned Kalabagh dam (in public) but rather promptly began collecting funds for (hydropower projects in) Diamer Basha (in GB) and Mohmand (KPK).

In our Azad Kashmir, our ultra-nationalist, extremely abrupt, facetious yet honourable prime minister Raja Farooq Haider Sahab says that I don't even know who ordered the action (of dismantling the sit-in protest camp) and arresting members of the 'Save Rivers Movement'. He went on to say (when pursued to explain) that the Chief Secretary whilst obeying orders from 'above', in turn directed the Commissioner (of Muzaffarabad) to take the action (required and thus bypassing the PM). 

Anyhow, about 2 years ago in a similar situation when an IG (Inspector General of Police) in Sindh began harassing the (provincial) government in Sindh, the latter utilised the power of the provincial assembly to make an infant out of the IG (as in belittled and humiliated him). To such an extent that apart from drawing his salary from the bank every month, he had no other power whatsoever.

4 or 5 years ago when (the then) prime minister of Azad Kashmir (Choudhary Majeed) tried to expel the Chief Secretary and IG (lent officers in AJK) from AJK, Farooq Haider was seen defending and standing in solidarity with both lent officers. 

The political career of Farooq Haider Sahab began after the death of the late Ishaq Zafar whereby he flourished in the name of protecting the rights of Muzaffarabad. However, his political career now seems to be floundering, in its final stages towards an exit from the political landscape. 

End of translation...

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I couldn't even get round to visiting Azaadi Chowk during the day today, thus I can't show you the latest photo of it. Tomorrow definitely.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 170 of 2019

0623hrs:

A lot to cover......in consequence to a lot to think about at Azaadi Chowk, Muzaffarabad.

This might be a good beginning:


For those of you interested in government notices (Section 144)...check this out hanging in the vicinity of Azaadi Chowk:


A Warning of Intent

Translated thus:

Notice of Awareness for the Public at Large

The public at large (in general) is informed that under section 144 all forms of public congregation/marches/agitation/protests in the areas around the vicinity of Burhan Wani Chowk (Azaadi Chowk) and the (Central) Press Club are banned, (Irrespective) of whether they are individual or collective and including all forms of public protest. If this notice is contravened (disobeyed) the perpetrators will face proceedings under APC 188.


On the Order of District Magistrate Muzaffarabad 

end of translation....
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The following is an ominous depiction of how peaceful protests for fundamental rights on either side of J & K are treated:

The picture on the left of your screen is of Azaadi Chowk in Muzaffarabad and on the right of Laal Chowk in Srinagar.

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The 'deep State' is prompt in preempting future congregation at Azaadi Chowk:



Here are some photos of how these changes emerged over the hours:
1 of 10
2 of 10
3 of 10
4 of 10
5 of 10
6 of 10
7 of 10
8 of 10
9 of 10
10 of 10
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This article that I am responding to is from April the 10th and given my work schedule I only got around to responding to it this morning:


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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 169 of 2019

2359hrs:

JIT (As in 'Just In Time')

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Earlier in London, it was a busy day of public activity for our diaspora, just like the day before throughout AJK:



A 3rd memorandum (2 earlier versions had been handed to the Pakistani Embassy in London at previous protests) was presented without forgetting to remind the embassy official of the absence of a response to the earlier ones:



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Monday, 17 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 168 of 2019

0552hrs:

The attention span in our little corner in this global village oscillated between Muzaffarabad at home and Manchester in the UK, all throughout the previous 24 hours. 

The diary entry for Day 167 of 2019 became a casualty in the process, though it needn't have.

Let's begin with the less serious of the 2 venues:

Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester captured much attention of our co-citizens throughout the day. Certainly as long as the Pakistani cricket team still had a remote outside chance of beating their Indian counterparts.

As I've intimated on this blog and elsewhere in the past, Pakistani cricket is an apt metaphor for how the Pakistani State and society in general approach life. Most of the world has moved on with the times but Pakistan - almost insistently but perhaps more through habit - lags behind in most fields of life.

The importance of merit, transparency, discipline and responsibility are still mentally driven away by the Pakistani mind as 'foreign/enemy agents'. This puts us in AJK and GB in an unenviable dilemma. We want to keep pace with the world and adopt the quality of approach visible elsewhere but the Pakistani State is adamant on dragging us down with it.

The following issue is a prime example of how we suffer at their hands. They want us to tirelessly advocate the freedom of the Kashmir Valley (for assumed propaganda brownie points against India) while ignoring our own right to freedom.  

As opposed to Manchester, more pertinent to our future was what happened in the early hours of yesterday in Muzaffarabad. The peaceful sit-in protest at Azaadi Chowk (Freedom Square) to save our rivers had barely entered its 84th day, when the local police pounced on the 2 activists on duty, at about 0230hrs yesterday morning (Sunday 16/06/19), before taking them and all the camp equipment into custody.


Later, as news spread throughout the morning to all corners of the globe where our diaspora reside, many of the local activists committed to save their environment and part of the 'Save Rivers - Save Muzaffarabad' Movement converged on Azaadi Chowk to protest their outrage. At about 1000hrs (10am) a further 21 members of the movement were arrested.


Here is a list of the 23 detainees:

1) Raja Amjad Ali Khan Advocate (Movement Spokesman)
2) Shaukat Nawaz Mir (President of Trader's Association - Muzaffarabad)
3) Mir Afzaal Suleria
4) Raja Umar
5) Imran Pandit
6) Zulfiqar Baig
7) Gohar Kashmiri
8) Raja Farrukh Mumtaz
9) Chaudhary Murad
10) Aamir Yusuf Zargar
11) Zain Kokher
12) Zulqarnain Jaafri
13) Mirza Akhter
14) Waqar Hussain Kazmi Advocate
15) Noor Hussain
16) Raja Saeed
17) Shahid Awan
18) Zaheer Mir
19) Basit Qureshi
20) Kamran Baig Advocate
21) Mustafa Nazir
22) Daaniyaal Chishti
23) Suhail Mughal

The detainees almost proportionately represent the different clans, tribes, sects, schools of thought, political parties and other diversities existing in the Muzaffarabad region. Not to forget that women have also acted in solidarity with their male brethren. This aspect along with their consistent line in respect to their simple demands and mobilisation of the AJK diaspora have given this movement a certain potency, arguably hitherto absent in public protests throughout AJK. 

Meanwhile, a multitude of protests throughout the city of Muzaffarabad ensued throughout the day. Here's an example:


The timing of this 'crackdown' is interesting because a scheduled protest in London for the 18th of June had already been announced when the sit-in protest in Azaadi Chowk, Muzaffarabad began on the 25th of March. The powers-that-be are always confident of diluting public interest here but are traditionally fearful of protests abroad:


Let me remind you of the simple demands of the 'Save Rivers - Save Muzaffarabad' Movement:

1) - (Alternative) Water bodies to be made (to mitigate effects of River Neelam diversion) between Nausehri and Chattar Klas.

2) - Sewerage treatment plants to be constructed at 16 points along the River Neelam, along with associated infrastructure in full.

3) - A water supply scheme should be initiated between Nausehri and Muzaffarabad.

4) - A solid waste management project should be initiated to recycle garbage.

5) - Both banks of the River Neelam should be cleaned and plantation erected there.

6) - Genuine participation of the people of AJK in electricity projects (here) should be realised.

Instead of fulfilling these demands, the Pakistani State - through its proxies including WAPDA (Pakistan's federal Water and Power Development Authority) and the AJK Government - is digging deeper problems for itself by trying to crush genuine dissent rather than face responsibility for its deeds. Charging into a territory under the guise of development without legal and constitutional authority, as if humans do not even exist there is an approach our Western neighbour will have to answer for.    
   
Sardar Shamim and I spent about 10 of these 84 days at Azaadi Chowk last month. I have gathered much technical details about the motives behind why the Pakistani State is adamant on destroying our environment for the sake of (relatively expensive) power generation for itself and without agreement with us; the stakeholders of this territory. I should've published this comprehensive report sooner but will do so in due course as soon as possible.
   
The heat coupled with Ramadhan stalled me somewhat but I am not offering that as an excuse.

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Meanwhile, the AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider has denied instructing the police to uproot the camp at Azaadi Chowk. He claims Pakistan's lent officer in chief in AJK (Chief Secretary) gave the orders without his knowledge. 

Here at Gilani Chowk, Raja Amjad Ali Khan (Spokesman for 'Save Rivers - Save Muzaffarabad' movement) urges the PM - in no uncertain terms - to either stand up for his right to govern as 'chief executive' or resign from office forthwith:



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Returning to the cricket world cup on a very hopeful note:

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Saturday, 15 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 166 of 2019

0329hrs:

Such is the level of blind allegiance in my territory that at times the following quote from James Jone's book 'From Here to Eternity' rings true:

"The little bit you and me might change the world."

Malloy smiled, "it wouldn't show up until a hundred years after we were dead. We'd never see it."

"But it'd be there."

End of quote...

I have high hopes that technology will bridge that distance from over a century to well within our lifetime. 

All we have to do is work harder to achieve the seemingly impossible viz. Take religious bias out of conflict and governance in Jammu & Kashmir. 

Religious harmony is also the key to avoiding conflict in Hindustaan (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) too. 

The energy generated for hatred of the 'other' can be converted to gaining technical prowess for governance and not least for averting future conflict over water. Which, like a circle brings us back to the conflict over Jammu & Kashmir. 

There is a causal link between religious identity, water conflict and Pax Britannica.

The Indian and Pakistani States may not be effectively communicating with each other at the moment. I think it is more than high time that thinkers and activists throughout the region fill the gap.

For humanity's sake!   

Friday, 14 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 165 of 2019

2127hrs:

Our dear friend Shujaat Bukhari was brutally killed on this day last year. We will never forget him:



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For those who are always keen to describe Gilgit Baltistan as a part of Pakistan, this is the other side of the coin. Even contested ownership without responsibility doesn't work:



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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 164 of 2019

2332hrs:

Resolutions are working but not totally as planned. 

Need to work harder. 

There is almost 50% missing. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 163 of 2019

2334hrs:

Water is the most precious commodity in the world. It needs a system of governance commensurate to its unique and irreplaceable value.



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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 162 of 2019

2241hrs:

Rain is a reprieve - from the intensifying heat of Dadyaal. 

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Hard work and persistence can pay off in AJK:




3 of the 5 accused policemen being led away from the courtroom, 73 days after the incident:



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Monday, 10 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 161 of 2019

0051hrs:

Not being at your 'home' station is a factor but missing yet another diary entry feels akin to the metaphors 'skipping a beat' or even 'missing a trick'.

I don't want to miss the train.   

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 159 of 2019

2005hrs:

24 hours a day is all we have to play with and there is no guarantee of how many days we have to complete the work we have in front of us....

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I thought the following article in India's National Herald newspaper today was quite refreshing and worth consuming:

How long can Delhi control Kashmir through cronies & corruption? Fresh possibilities need exploration

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Friday, 7 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 158 of 2019

0317hrs:

3 Layers and Multiple Sub-layers in each Layer of the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute:

There appear to be 3 layers of power (with accompanying narrative/s) relevant to understanding the unresolved dispute of Jammu & Kashmir. Both modus vivendi and modus operandi are in use in different measure and combination, within and between each layer.

1) United Kingdom (Great Britain/Empire)

Sub-layers would include the international community with a mixture of combining and separating almost everything beyond India & Pakistan. That would be Western/global institutions viz. UN, IMF, World Bank, the wider region including China, Central Asia, Russia and the Muslim World.

2) India & Pakistan

Sub-layers would include all narratives; be they hawks or doves, or left and right of the political spectrum in both countries, They would also include both those who don't want the world to interfere in the domestic affairs of either State and those that do, or don't mind.

3) Jammu & Kashmir (J & K)

This would include the whole princely State of c. 86,000 square miles. Of course the divided population is also going to comprise of a diverse range of sub-layers. Some pulling towards the Indian narrative, some towards the Pakistani narrative, some espousing other narratives linked to other external entities and then a perhaps even more diverse group representing an internal narrative of some kind.

Now, in the power equation the numbers 1 to 3 are in the right sequence, in more respects than one. During the colonial era, there were 2 tiers or layers (in our contextual parlance): that of the British Crown and its subjects. Thus, there is history, geopolitics, economy, technology, research and a host of other factors that cement the sequence in place.   

I realise that not all readers will be predisposed to accepting such a sequence. However, most people who follow the status of Jammu & Kashmir's geopolitical ambiguity will at least concede that any conscientious inhabitant of this territory - who may be deprived of all his or her fundamental rights at will - may reasonably make such an assessment. Further, the reader should also take into account the prevailing status-quo since the ceremonial transfer of British colonial power to the dominions of India and Pakistan in 1947. The gradual dwindling of internal political agency - be it the autocratic ruler or his subjects - including those acting as political representatives of the people - should also be noted.

If we assume the above as a 3-layered geopolitical power hierarchy, the challenges facing the civil rights activist in any part of J & K - to achieve public policy objectives in favour of the internal narrative/s - are as necessary to meet in 2019 as they have proved elusive since 1947.

Our shared humanity requires us to accept everything we expect for ourselves as a fundamental right to be available or exercised by all other homo sapiens. There is a deeper level of thinking needed beyond 'national' limitations to meet the seemingly ever more complex needs of tomorrow. 

Can the internal narrative of J & K triumph for the sake of humanity?

How does it navigate through the 3 layers of geopolitical hierarchy?

How does it interact with the multiple sub-layers within and between other layers?

All real and tough questions that need understanding. 

I need internal assistance.
   

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 157 of 2019

2237hrs:

Towards the end of the second day of Eid, all those 'after Ramadhan' resolutions made during the holy month are beckoning.  

Meanwhile, if the following isn't potentially explosive - from an awareness and lobbying point of view - I don't know what is. 



Our diaspora throughout the relatively mature democracies of the world are an unparalleled force for sustainable peace and genuine democracy in AJK.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 156 of 2019

1742hrs:

Yes, I am getting sloppy of late in inputting my daily entries. Day 155 of 2019 was again one such error.

Ramadhan was tough but it brought some discipline. The stomach has been refreshed, among a multitude of other health benefits.

I got up early enough for Eid prayer at Eidgaah, Mirpur. The amazing thing is that I could not recognise anybody there and neither did anybody recognise me. 

Eidgaah - F/1 Mirpur

I wanted to pay homage to a deceased warrior of this territory, who I couldn't meet during his lifetime:

Ashraf Qureshi 

The resting place of Ashraf Qureshi

A lot has been written on the 'Ganga Hijacking' of 1971 but some aspects of it are still clouded in mystery. Here's an interesting take in Greater Kashmir's GK Magazine by Arjimand Hussain Talib in 2015:

Hijack that changed history 

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The following is a genuine thread in the range of narratives that exist in Jammu & Kashmir. However, not every citizen or activist from the Valley thinks or speaks of AJK activists in this manner. On a personal level, I have received much empathy, support and projection for my work from my co-citizens in the Valley:



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On this day of Eid, I have to salute the activists of Gilgit Baltistan and Muzaffarabad respectively for lighting the torch of public interest despite the tendency of the rest of us spending time with family and friends when such a day arrives:

Gilgit Baltistan:



The placards read as:

(This) Eid is dedicated to our political prisoners:

Baba Jaan
Iftikhar
Yasin Malik
Shabir Shah

Release them!


B.S.F (Balawaristan Students Front - GB; which is the student wing of Balawaristan National Front)

(end of translation).....

Muzaffarabad:



Let me translate the banner too:

(The) 5th of June - World Environment Day

By diverting the rivers of Muzaffarabad

By changing the temperature of Muzaffarabad

By depriving Kashmiris of their environmental rights

What kind of political, moral (ethical) and diplomatic support is this?

Save (our) rivers.....Save (our) lives.....Save (our) Muzaffarabad

(end of translation)   

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Monday, 3 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 154 of 2019

2037hrs:

As I monitor the 6th match of the cricket world cup between England and Pakistan, I'm reminded of that day 27 years ago in Melbourne, when I was rooting for the latter because I thought it more accurately reflected the description of 'my country' even though I was being brought up - very well - in England. 

A lot has changed in that time and my sympathies are now firmly with England, despite them faltering somewhat today. They are currently 142 for 4 after 24.5 overs chasing 349 to win. With their long batting line-up, I'm still confident that they can make it.

While I'm on the subject of cricket, it was very heartening to see Bangladesh win in a calculated duel with South Africa. They've really matured as a unit since their debut in this tournament 20 years ago. The following notes from cricinfo.com are quite revealing:

"They've shown the value of preparation going into a big tournament. Arrived a month early, played a tri-series which they approached with much seriousness. Planned meticulously, won four games. Shunned experimentation and focused on results. Beat West Indies twice, including in the final to clinch their first-ever multi-nation tournament, and here they are now. On the grandest stage of them all, against a good South African side. Upsetting their apple cart with a much-superior display. Make no mistake, this is a thumping for South Africa."

I also felt New Zealand looked sharp and clinical against Sri Lanka on Saturday. 

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England did finally lose by 14 runs in a closely fought contest but I was personally disappointed with the performance of my two expatriates: Moeen Ali could've batted better and Adil Rashid could have bowled better. For me, that was the difference between winning and losing. I hope they both contribute more significantly to the team effort in the remaining games. England remain my favourites to lift the cricket world cup for the first time, at the 12th attempt since the tournament began in 1975. 

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Returning to the serious end of the world, I understand this happened earlier today in Arja, Bagh AJK:



Translated thus:


Sunday, 2 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 153 of 2019

0159hrs:

Rolling on....

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The New Zealand government does not cease to astound us with its generosity and empathy towards its Muslim citizens. Here, on the last Friday prayer of this Ramadhan is an ocean of non Muslims that came to witness the congregation....a show of solidarity perhaps never witnessed before!



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Saturday, 1 June 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 152 of 2019

0043hrs:

Missing out yet again. Day 151 of 2019 on this occasion.

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Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan 
The words of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan alias Bacha Khan still resound from his grave in Afghanistan, for the powers-that-be in Pakistan. 

Translated thus:


The religion of God (The Almighty) is the religion of peace and love

Those who fill your hearts with hate in the name of religion 
Are not (the people) of God but the people of Satan. 

Khan's life-long commitment to peace through non-violent means earned him various other titles including the 'Frontier Gandhi' and 'Fakhr-e-Afghan' (Pride of Pashtuns).


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Meanwhile, returning home:

How do we document all that has been taken away from AJK since 1947?

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Thursday, 30 May 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 150 of 2019

2249hrs:

I don't normally predict the winners of sporting tournaments - at least not publicly - but on this occasion of the Cricket World Cup, I declared yesterday that England should finally be able to achieve this milestone. 

They have started off explosively enough today, by beating South Africa with more than a 100 runs and 10 overs to spare:

England 311 for 8 (Stokes 89, Morgan 57, Roy 54, Root 51, Ngidi 3-66) beat South Africa 207 (de Kock 68, van der Dussen 50, Archer 3-27) by 104 runs

Courtesy: cricinfo.com 

We have a few robust reasons for supporting England more than any other country in the 10 member competition.

Two of our citizens are represented for a start:

Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

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We must not forget this brutal aspect of the conflict:


Any conflict resolution mechanism will have to address these injustices at the earliest.

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Daily Diary (DD) - Day 175 of 2019

1611hrs: A very wet day in Muzaffarabad today. It almost feels like a fantastic gift from the Almighty, in what is usually a sweltering ...