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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 90 of 2019

1745hrs:

This audio was created yesterday but uploaded today hence:



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May something beautiful emerge from this region, that has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons:




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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 89 of 2019

2338hrs:

The new year may have started almost 90 days ago but technology is not keeping up with me or I am not keeping up with it. The latter was abundantly obvious earlier today, as I had to scratch hard at my head while watching various programmes freeze when multitasking. 

I need more horsepower!


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Putting pieces of the puzzle together bit by bit:

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Probing mission must not cease till victory:



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Friday, 29 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 88 of 2019

1259hrs:

If humanity doesn't wake up, water conflict could one day escalate to being the most significant driver of global conflict. The internal narrative was stifled in Mirpur (ref. Mangla) in the 1960s but it might not be stifled in Muzaffarabad (Neelam-Jhelum) 50 years later:


Translated thus:

Entered into its 5th day has this sit-in protest in Muzaffarabad, against the water aggression of Pakistan and China. Close (stop / end) this water aggression!

End...

As you can read at the end of the tweet, they are beckoning Pakistani media to take notice.

Unfortunately, that country's media has traditionally been slow or even non-existent when it comes to coverage of issues that - by definition - question Pakistan's control of this territory.

This either indicates that Pakistani civil society is weak or that the State is unashamed of its hypocritical position: viz. advocate freedom for the Valley of Kashmir but suppress valid questions over your own presence in Jammu & Kashmir.

This internal contradiction is what I describe as the internal enemy of Pakistan. You cannot attract investment into your country or expect the world to trade with you if you advocate one thing and do another.

Pakistan is also concealing its poor utilisation of water as well as its inequitable distribution. Resources are controlled and used primarily for securing the State rather than enabling it to flourish.

There is little point in heavily protecting an empty shell.

With time, the neighbourhood as well as significant actors in the rest of the world will question Pakistan's mis-handling of the world's most precious resource.

A resource that others could demonstrably prove that they can utilise better.

I can't imagine a conflict worse than that.

In the digital age, it would be difficult to conceal inefficiency or pure lust and greed with Islamic metaphors.

The Pakistani State has many answers to give on its role in AJK and GB. By restricting its own media from honestly covering this territory, the Pakistani State is inflicting heavy injury on itself.



If you study the slogans chanted in this video, civil society in AJK targets the Pakistani institution WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) and not the Pakistani State when criticising what is essentially State policy. 

The intelligence agents who patrol public opinion in AJK don't work for WAPDA, they work for the security agencies of the Pakistani State. Hence, WAPDA is a soft target and one that civil society can mobilise against society wide and gain open support without the seedy controversy of riling the Pakistani State, which earns you the slur of being anti-Islam. This is so because you would be openly rebelling against the fortress of Islam viz. Pakistan.

So, the public rights narrative becomes stunted and then when negotiations do emerge to end the protests, personal interests are mobilised to muddy the narrative even further. The protestors become even more and more isolated over time and the cycle repeats itself periodically. 

From Mirpur in the 1960s to Muzaffarabad in the 2010s. 



Thursday, 28 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 87 of 2019

0411hrs:

Let's keep tabs on inspiring events around the globe too. Nation States cannot exist in isolation. 'Hard power' is far less effective compared to 'soft power' in the 21st century. So the digital age is proving it to be. 

New Zealand is ripe for isolation in a geographic sense, yet has generated a huge amount of soft power over the past couple of weeks. It is a successful country using any indicator of governance or public policy. It is most certainly not isolated. In fact, it almost seems as if it is at the centre of the world at the moment.


....

Jammu & Kashmir is more central in a geographic sense than most other territories in the world. However, its isolation in every other sense reminds one of 'The Law of Averages'. The sun inevitably makes its presence felt, no matter how many days of rain follow each other.

So, our aspiring citizens need to concentrate on soft power. Art, culture, heritage and all forms of expression of who and how we are. The world will take notice, especially if we are polite and refined about it.

....

Meanwhile, I'm trying to access the following link, not least for its piquancy but this is what I'm getting:

This site can’t be reached

indianexpress.com’s server IP address could not be found.

DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN





I have noticed this before. Certain Indian websites cannot be accessed from here:


.....


Well, this is going to get more interesting as human nature evolves in this region:




My immediate knee-jerk response to the above is that the opening of Sharda cannot be pre-conditioned by Pakistan. The Indian elections should not be a factor in this decision. If Muslims were barred from Makkah for 72 years, they wouldn't want to wait for a general election in a neighbouring territory to learn whether or not they could re-enter.

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Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 86 of 2019

2257hrs:

An impulsive click by Commander Irfan Malik 

The Law of Averages:

We could write a treatise on this phrase but even without academic rigour or reference, there is a lot that we can discuss through the prism of every-day life.

Let's remain focussed on society in AJK.

The law of averages throughout the modern world in the context of mono narratives - in any given society - would suggest that they are not sustainable in the long run.

As we're talking about societies in nation-States (particularly contested ones) and since the Europeans are the architects of this structure, we have licence to use examples from there or in that vicinity.

Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy and Stalin's Russia employed a mono narrative. The Pakistanis have employed a mono narrative in AJK and Gilgit Baltistan (we will usually adopt GB for short in a similar manner to AJK for Azad Jammu & Kashmir).

The law of averages may dictate an inevitable failure.

There are 2 almost distinct narratives that exist in AJK and GB. I say almost because no prominent narrative can be monolithic. One is an internal narrative and the other is a Pakistani narrative.

Since Pakistan controls these 2 territories without legal reference, as being a respondent party of a non-enforceable forum (ref. UN chapter 6) doesn't provide a country de jure status. This dilemma compels Pakistan to base its control on certain assumptions that rely on the majority opinion of the internal inhabitants - the primary stakeholders in this conflict - to unconditionally support their stance. Hence it (Pakistan) considers it - as a matter of survival - to strictly control the public narrative here.

Control the narrative and you control the territory. De facto. As simple as a white flag.

Not recognising (or even acknowledging) the presence of other narratives is suicidal for a nation State.

What if the United Kingdom didn't recognise that a Scottish aspiration for independence exists? What if England and Wales did not recognise that there are citizens who don't want a Brexit? What if the Catholics of Ireland didn't acknowledge that their Protestant compatriots had a different view on national politics?

Closer to the Muslim world, what if Turkey didn't recognise that there are a significant amount of Turks who prefer to be part of a secular Europe rather than a rejuvenated Ottoman Empire?

All aspects of governance, public policy and conflict resolution (an oft cited term in the context of Jammu & Kashmir) follow the cue provided by the State (assuming charge of AJK and GB), based on the contrived perception that an all-encompassing dominant narrative exists, that unquestionably but conveniently favours the State's accession to Pakistan.

Even if we assume that Pakistan had entered AJK and GB in 1947 peacefully, by measuring the needs and opinions of the inhabitants beforehand and then legally sanctioned its presence, they would still have no right to impose a mono-narrative on these parts of the erstwhile princely State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Some would argue that Pakistan imposes its narrative in AJK and GB in the manner that it does, precisely because it could not and cannot sway majority opinion in its favour.

The average person who lives in this territory recognises that these 2 distinguishable narratives co-exist in real life. Everyday transactions between individuals in society reflect that average reality. They manage the 'occupation' (of course not everybody regards Pakistan as an occupier), hence society continues to function regardless. However, because it is militarised through external interference (primarily to protect that State's narrative), the territory has no internal control over governance and public policy and is compelled to abide by that Pakistani narrative, through social, economic, judicial and even at times extra-judicial means.

The system cannot grow organically - on its own resources - both human and natural. A mono narrative is by definition autocratic, anti-life, suppressive of human instinct and simply unsustainable.

There is little conviction in toppling one autocracy (the Dogra Empire) to become part of another autocracy. A Hindu autocracy, a Muslim autocracy or a Christian autocracy is by all means an autocracy. However, this current autocracy is hell-bent on extraction and expatriation. Dogra rule (1820s to 1947) can be rightly accused of many crimes but extraction and expatriation of resources is not one of them.

The citizen of such a territory: be they day labourers, judges, politicians, academics or anyone else will remain camouflaged to survive and succeed.

If any internal entity or body peacefully challenges this imposed mono-narrative, they will immediately be accused of bias, working for the enemies of Pakistan and/or tabooed as a perfect candidate for being put in a mental asylum, or at least deserving of some form of character assassination.

In a system of governance that pivots its existence on bias, it is a cruel irony that bias is the first allegation that is provoked in response to an alternative narrative. It is quite possible that the most instrumental enemies of Pakistan are a product of the internal contradictions of that society. That could be the case in AJK and GB too. Introspection can deliver answers in each case I suspect. It is also possible that the mental asylum candidate could be a genuine candidate for the Nobel peace prize.

In principle, there cannot be a difference between the nationalism of Balawaristan, Bengali nationalism, Indian nationalism, the nationalism(s) of Jammu & Kashmir or even Pakistani nationalism.

Each philosophically justify their 21st century nationalism according to the structure of Westphalian sovereignty introduced in the 17th century.

In an Islamic context, one nationalism cannot be halaal while another is haraam.

One nationalism cannot be legitimate at the cost of the other and that is the basic flaw of the Indian Independence Act, drafted and hurriedly but partially implemented by the soon-to-depart British Raj in 1947.

Let's return to the imposition of a mono-narrative in AJK and GB. With the internal inhabitant still struggling to cover the journey from a subject of the Dogra Empire pre 1947 to an aspiring citizen of AJK or GB, it has been established that our proclivity to resolve our 'national question' has been stunted in a targeted manner, where fear is a lifelong companion for most inhabitants.

It could be helpful to remember that the law of averages also dictates that many rainy days will inevitably be followed by a sunny day.

....

When I instinctively decided to review the Pakistani female writer Anam Zakaria's compelling book on AJK 'Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-Administered Kashmir', I felt it almost equally compelling to write the above as a preliminary review, which I may as well title as 'The Law of Averages'.
              

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 85 of 2019

0524hrs:

Let's get back to earth for a bit:


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This is intriguing...



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Upon enquiring on an elaboration of the word 'hawyaa', this is the response I got:


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Monday, 25 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 84 of 2019

1036hrs:

Engineer Rasheed MLA typically in the thick of the action - Source: Google
I don't agree with various aspects of this gentleman's politics but I consider him one of only two eligible politicians in the whole State of Jammu & Kashmir, to be described as a 21st century politician. His approach is very direct to the public and that's what is most attractive about him:

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I'm just finished reading a book written on AJK by a Pakistani writer. It would only be my duty to review it too:

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1729hrs:

I have received confirmation that both India and Pakistan have come to some preliminary agreement on opening Sharda to the Hindu community of J & K and quite possibly from elsewhere too.

The story was broken yesterday by a Kashmiri Pandit journalist in Delhi:

A whirlwind of attention has focussed on this issue, on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, particularly today. It has kept me busy for most of the day too. I received further enquiries from various cities of what used to be an un-divided neighbourhood.

The following were quotes I gave on Sharda's re-opening for various Indo-Pak media that contacted me:

"It would be the most significant pro-life measure taken in this region since the end of the British Raj".

"It's positive implications for religious harmony, civilisational diversity, knowledge and wisdom accumulation will be felt globally".

"It could even become the pre-eminent symbol of 'soft power' in the world".

"Forgive the superlative laden description of Sharda but I feel it is warranted".

Here are some essential embeds which can trace the pursuit of Sharda by civil society across the divide in Jammu & Kashmir, in a chronological manner. These aren't the sum of the efforts of course, just an outline of some significant steps along the journey:

The pivotal role driving this whole process forward has been that of Save Sharda Committee Regd. and in particular, the untiring consistency of Shree Ravinder Pandita. Amongst other contributions we cannot forget, is Vinod Pandita's 15 day hunger strike in 2014.

02 July 2007

An academic from Indian-administered Kashmir visits Sharda:



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25 Dec 2010

Building a bridge of peace and reconciliation:

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23 Mar 2011

Human rights and religion in Kashmir

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05 Sep 2012

Sharda Peeth - Hindu Heritage of Kashmir in Sharda - AJK:



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05 Sept 2012

Remains of Dogra Fort - Sharda AJK:



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01 Sep 2013

In Search of Sharda's Famed Mandir in AJK:



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01 Sep 2013

Exploring the Hindu Heritage of Ganesh Ghatti - Sharda - AJK:



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18 Mar 2017

Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit answering question on Sharda:



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04 Sep 2017

A Message for the Kashmiri Pandit Community from Sunna ni Kassi - Sehrmandi - AJK:



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16 September 2017

A well balanced programme on efforts to re-open Sharda:



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25 April 2018

Discussing Sharda at Muzaffarabad District Bar Association:

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22 Nov 2018

JKTV programme on Sharda, in wake of (news of) Kartaarpur Opening:

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01 Dec 2018

Pakistan's prime minister questioned by Indian journalist on Sharda:

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01 Dec 2018

After Kartarpur Corridor, A Clamour For Opening Route To Sharada Peeth Grows:



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05 Dec 2018

A well presented and concise article on Sharda:

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06 Dec 2018

Press conference in Jammu by Save Sharda Committee:



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08 Dec 2018

Speech at Sehnsa and an introduction to Sharda:

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09 Dec 2018

A diverse discussion on the issue of Sharda's re-opening for pilgrimage:



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10 Dec 2018

A must watch conversation on Sharda exploration:



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16 Dec 2018

Footage at Sharda:

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16 Dec 2018

Laying of flowers at Sharda Peeth by Civil Society:



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19 Dec 2018

Sharda in news.....Kashmir Times , oldest english newspaper of J & K state:



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22 Dec 2018

Excerpts from CNN News18 programme on Sharda issue:



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22 Dec 2018

Talking to AJK Media in Muzaffarabad about Sharda:

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24 Dec 2018

Letter from Indian government to Save Sharda Committee:

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25 Dec 2018

Civil Society Stance on Sharda in Muzaffarabad:



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29 Dec 2018

This short documentary has been prepared for Kumbh at Prayagraj (Allahabad in U.P) on Sharda Peeth exploration:



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29 Jan 2019

AJK prime minister visits old mandir in Muzaffarabad and orders repairs:



It should be pointed out that this is probably the first time in 72 years that a serving head of government in AJK (titled PM since 1975) has visited a non-Muslim place of worship.
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Now! We can fast forward to today and here's a prime time Indian TV programme on Sharda. I was able to participate for the last 20 minutes:



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There were also a few news items emanating from both sides of the international border. Here are some examples:

Pakistani foreign ministry submits proposal to PM Imran Khan to open Sharda temple for Indians






I'll finish off this exhausting entry with this upbeat fb post today by Ravinder Jee:


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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 83 of 2019

2125hrs:

Is the nation awake or asleep?

Is it aware or is it ignorant?

At times, it can be difficult to tell...

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As this blogging space is my primary social media platform to organise, categorise and reference my work over the past 14 years, it may be apt that I log academic conversations that I'm a part of too:

This is on Academia.edu and the title of the article is: 'Kashmir Question - A Democratic and Inclusive Way Forward'

My response to Shams Rehman

I think this is a meaningful way to engage global civil society or even globally recognised institutions, with an aim to increase genuine democratic space in each region of the State of J & K. This strategy should be consistent and creative in the way it presents its case. For example, even art can be used to convey the message, especially at multi-lateral forums globally.

Having said that, this doesn't absolve Britain from its responsibilities in light of the Indian Independence Act. There is also much that can be done to make British MPs (especially those whose families originate from J & K) more committed to a democratic solution of this essentially British colonial legacy. As a large diaspora, we are most certainly not pulling our weight in accordance with our size and significance in the field of lobbying.

Nevertheless, most important of all is the conduct and commitment of our own people. How democratic, humane and just are we to each other? If we cannot derive a consensus on collective action amongst each other, there is little the rest of the world can or will do to help alleviate our misery.

End...

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Saturday, 23 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 82 of 2019

1518hrs:

In the interest of global peace and a possible source of inspiration for public policy everywhere, I felt it absolutely necessary to copy the following notes from a Whatsapp group:

If any nation wants to learn how to treat a minority in times of need, please use New Zealand and its prime minister as a case study: 

‪50 Muslims were attacked and killed by an Australian born terrorist while they were praying at a masjid. 

‪How did NZ, a tiny island of only 4 million people respond? 

‪- The entire population mourned genuinely. 
‪- They called it a terrorist attack when the attacker was white. 
‪- They raised $9million‬ + for the families affected. 

- All funeral costs to be undertaken by the Government of New Zealand. 

- Any person caught spreading hate news, or the attack video to be jailed up to 14 years. 

- They banned guns within hours of the incident.

- A huge number of people gathered all over the country to lay flowers outside masaajid and showed their support within hours. 

- Kiwi people including the New Zealand police and even gang members of the country are patrolling outside masaajid while Muslims pray.

- The azaan was played publicly on national TV, radio and every masjid around New Zealand at yesterday’s friday prayers. 

- The NZ government fast tracked visas in 24 hours to allow families of the affected to enter New Zealand.

- Kiwi people opened their homes to provide free shelter, food and support to any Muslim.

- Non Muslim Kiwi girls wore the hijab to make Hijabi girls feel safer.

- The New Zealand media made sure they covered the Muslim voice in depth and detail, with full interviews with the families of those affected, front page headlines for days and still continuing.

- Prime minister Jacinda wore a hijab and personally visited the Muslim community on a daily basis to provide love, support & updates all while wearing a hijab. She hugged Muslims and genuinely cried with them 

- The New Zealand Parliament invited an imam to start a parliament session with an Islamic prayer (First time in History).
.
- Flags flew at half mast.

- The Kiwi people filled up parks and beaches with art work, flowers and candles to show that they stand with the Muslim community shoulder to shoulder. 

- Non Muslim Kiwis are actively staying around Muslims to make sure they feel welcome and at home. They are sitting, talking & eating with them. 

If this happened in another country, it’s likely the news wouldn’t have even made it to the second page of the News Paper.

Alhamdulillah, so proud to be a Kiwi Muslim. Thank you New Zealand. You have made a special place in the hearts of 1.8 billion people...forever. 

#Alhamdulilah #NewZealand #JacindaArden #Kiwis #ThisIsHowYouDoIt

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The above helps reinforce my opinion that it is not necessary for Muslims ruling Muslims to be a more secure option for governance. It is quite possible for non-Muslims to provide a more secure environment to Muslims. The example of New Zealand could be a very significant lesson for the Indian sub-continent and its surroundings. In particular, for those who espouse the 2 nation theory.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 81 of 2019

2330hrs:

I love this age.

The following strand of thought from the Valley would have been difficult to emerge, if not for the digital age:

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Meanwhile, on this side:




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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 80 of 2019

2313hrs:

Autocracy vs. Democracy

Can there still be a rational debate?

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This initiative could help in averting future conflict over water:



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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 79 of 2019

2336hrs:

Boosting momentum prematurely could prove fatal. 

This isn't a T20 or a 50 over one dayer. It isn't even a 5 day test match. 

Hell! It's not even cricket.

This is a game that has been shedding the blood of the hosts for 72 years.

There is still no clear sign of it ending soon.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 78 of 2019

1601hrs:

JKNSF through their representative Faran Mushtaq send a strong message to the Pakistani occupiers of Jammu & Kashmir, in Rawalakot a while ago: 


Earlier today, some of the 30 captives of the Pakistani State were released. Some are still in unknown locations including their former president Sardar Talha Advocate, who it is reported was shifted from Waah Cantonment police station:

Now, take a note of this tweet:


Translated thus:

This is Imran Khan Sahaab in a JKNSF convention in Rawalakot in 2001. During his adddress he announced his support for an independent Kashmir.

(He further explained) that when PTI will come into government, justice will be done with you. No nation can be kept as slaves.

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Here's yet another example of how our children's education is neglected in AJK:


Translated thus:

Are these not our children? 

Almost buried in the lap of snow, a picture of helplessness are these children. Situated barely an hour and a half's drive away from Muzaffarabad, in the Union Council of Panjgraan is the village of Chamba where this government middle school is. Hereby is an appeal to everybody to help in constructing a building (for the school).   

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Now this is an article published on Yale Global Online that is right down my street as a public policy activist:

Why Governments Count People

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Sunday, 17 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 76 of 2019

2333hrs:

Confronting tragedy on a daily basis....

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This is interesting...



After a gap of 30 years, gold coloured fish were seen today in 'Vimal Kund' Spring at Martand Temple in Anantnag, the Vale of Kashmir.

Such a sighting is considered a good omen according to Hindu mythology.

Could this possibly mean a new era of peace, prosperity and development in Jammu and Kashmir?

At least some elders of the Hindu community here are hopeful that the fragrance of brotherhood and love will spread amongst the different communities residing in the State.

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We witnessed a good omen of our own today:




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Friday, 15 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 74 of 2019

2105hrs:

Should there not be a distinction between pro life and an anti life approach to society?

In one corner of the world somebody engages on a killing spree of innocent humans in their places of worship and the world takes immediate notice.

In another corner, some people wake up determined to continue their struggle of building bridges between a society driven apart by a man made disaster decades ago. Not many people notice.

An anti-life approach in the context of AJK:

- 99% of society is corrupt.  
- You're wasting your time expecting them to respond to humanity.
- Our neighbouring State is a beacon of light for the world and we can't exist without them.

It takes years for pro life activities to gain traction here.....all that is achieved can be destroyed by a single anti-life activity.

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It has been reported that roughly 30 student political workers of JKNSF (Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation) along with their central president were arrested in Rawalpindi at around 1900hrs for holding a convention in the city. They are being detained in Raja Bazaar police station.

Earlier in the day, I had received reports that the Pakistani authorities had refused permission for the student organisation to hold their regional convention, on the grounds that they were "Anti-Pakistan".

It is understood that expressing the aspiration for an independent Kashmir more often than not, invokes allegations of treachery from the defenders of Pakistan's narrative on Kashmir. Various citizens in AJK consider these obstructions of peaceful expression to be an attempt to drive our youth towards violence. 

....

The traditionally lively citizens of Hajeera also took to the streets today to protest against the continuing internet blockade in their region. Just like the citizens of the Neelam Valley yesterday, they made it clear that their patience was wearing out. A deadline of two days was given to the AJK authorities (read Pakistani-administered authorities) to restore their connectivity.

During their procession and on approach to the Assistant Commissioner's office, they also demanded better medical facilities at the tehsil (subdivisional) hospital which lacked medicine, doctors and other medical staff. Students who rely on online facilities had to travel hours away to the larger cities of Rawalakot or Kotli to fulfil their educational needs. In addition, the public felt they were being economically strangulated by the conflict and its associated restrictions. 

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 73 of 2019

1932hrs:



Just for the record, the following paragraphs were inexplicably omitted from the end of the article cited above:

After....
Some aspects need dedicated attention in their own right. 

"
I'll just list a few for future engagement:

1) Water Resource Management
2) Security vis a vis China
3) The 360 degree geography of J & K, old silk routes and connectivity in Asia

I’ll finish with an attempt to deal with an oft-cited apprehension that the Indian government would not be keen to allow His Excellency Dr. Karan Singh to visit AJK. We feel that he is our most precious asset and reconciliation without him would be very difficult, not least because he’s an erudite thinker and a living witness to everything that has transpired since the end of the Dogra Raj. 


In my communication with him in 2008, he suggested a few measures to me. I am also privy to a few discussions he had with some of our key historical figures in AJK. I have completed those measures and would be eager to invite him here.
"

Actual end of article......
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Let's return to the Kashmir Valley for a moment. This short video clip tells a thousand stories:


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Returning to AJK but remaining adjacent to the Koshur Valley:


Translation of tweet:

The public of the Neelam Valley are losing their patience over the internet blockade in their region. Protests have begun....

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 72 of 2019

1857hrs:

At this stage in the month of March, we still await the onset of spring. Despite that, I still shaved my head a little while ago, which I traditionally do at this time of year. 

Last year, we had completed quite a few public activities by this point. This year, I want our public activities to be a bit more measured.

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Of course, we try and keep our eye on the other parts of the divided State of Jammu & Kashmir, as much as is possible:



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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 71 of 2019

1732hrs:

So, there are various global citizens out there who are keen on learning and reporting about this region:


However, they do need to sharpen up their knowledge on the region. Nevertheless, we still appreciate their attention.
...

Meanwhile, on various sectors of the LOC there has been an almost wholesale interruption of communications for the past 2 weeks. While people have much to do on their own initiative to save themselves from Indo-Pak crossfire, they also have to tolerate blocking of mobile networks which is exacerbating their misery whilst damaging their livelihood too.

...

The White Flag Movement introduced itself to Mirpur city today:



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Monday, 11 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 70 of 2019

0959hrs:

Well...just as well.


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It was on this day that AJK's straightest and most brilliant politician, lawyer and writer was killed in an inexplicable road accident in 1988. The world wasn't quite digitised then. If it was, he'd be perhaps most prominent amongst those citizens of J & K whose life and works needed to be digitally stored. We still have much to learn from him and these few words cannot do justice to his stature. Here's how I remembered him on facebook 5 years ago today:



For those of you who can't read the text in the embedded post above:

This is a portrait of the late great K. H. Khursheed.

Hand-drawn by Babar of Gujranwala (Pakistan), while a Fine Arts Student at Punjab University - Lahore in 1990.

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 69 of 2019

1724hrs:

Playing catch-up with the past while consuming anything that resembles the future.

Even a different angle on why 'Kashmir' needs to be independent:



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1800hrs: Update from the LOC at Chakothi (Hattian Bala)
There's been heavy firing between our neighbours in our territory yet again. Reports of 2 dead and 3 injured surfacing so far.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 68 of 2019

1442hrs:

I thought I'd just update the world on my quantitative performance in daily blogging, for whatever it's worth:

2019 (so far): 89.7% (61 days of 68 so far)
2018: 69.9% (255 days of 365)

From starting this blog on May the 29th 2008 till the 31st of December 2017 elapsed 3,502 days; during which I posted only 149 times. That gives us an accumulated average of 4.3%.

Does a jump from less than 5% in almost a decade to a swing of almost 90% in just over a year signify anything?

Of course.

First of all, that I spent a lot of time in the field, on the ground or what I would like to describe as public space. Research and activism outside with our people leaves very little time to organise and categorise data collected.

I have begun to spend more time inside to concentrate on making sense of my data and making the publicly significant aspects of it easily available, in the following categories of:

1) Opinion
2) Economy
3) Human Rights
4) History (1820-2020)

How much I'll be able to accomplish doing is difficult to say. If I can somehow distinguish between what needs to be online and what can remain offline, that would help others complete anything that remains.

I have tried to link all my publicly accessible work here on this blog and am working hard to ensure that all information is up to date before I publish Public Opinion Survey Report 2.0 .

We all have much to juggle in life. I hope I can make as many useful choices in public interest as possible.
    
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I only became aware of this conversation today. On its panel, it had a UK citizen moderating accompanied by one citizen of each of the following countries: India, Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan.


At around 40 minutes into the video, is perhaps the most notable part of the discussion wherein the Jammu & Kashmir representative talks about resolution as a set of processes, which include awkward but important aspects such as narrative bridging. I'm heartened that my thinking on the ground here is echoing somewhat in the academic corridors of London. I've never met her or even directly communicated with her, which makes me appreciate her analysis all the more.

....

As intimated before, there's a slickness about twitter that probably isn't available on any other social media platform:


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Today was also perhaps the day when the White Flag Movement of AJK reached the streets of the UK. Leeds to be precise:



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Friday, 8 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 67 of 2019

2200hrs:


I am trying to remain relevant on FB, at least once a week, if not more.

For those that can't read the text of the FB post above, here it is:

In AJK we are only free to praise Pakistan and curse India with Islamic platitudes. There is zero space for any other narrative. There are very few who promote any other narrative. War is always funded, peace is not.

AJK me hum sirf is had tak azaad hain ke hum Pakistan ki tareef kar sakey aur India par lanat bhejh sakey, apna Islami farz samajh kar. Kisi aur bayaaniya ki gunjaish nahi hay. Bahut kam log hain jo kisi aur bayaaniya ki amli hamayat kartey hain. Wasail hamesha jang ke liye dastayab hain, aman ke liye nahi.

Image borrowed from New York Times Online

End of post...

.....

I really like the following approach to protecting one's identity. This is from Rajouri, on the Indian-controlled side of the LOC:



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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 65 of 2019

1712hrs:

Children and War
These are photos taken earlier today in Poonch Sector along the LOC and what these children perceive as toys are war implements fired from the Indian-controlled side of the LOC yesterday.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 64 of 2019

2122hrs:

I felt it was high time today to write the penultimate version of the internal political process for AJK, whereby the ultimate version will be written in Citizen Public Opinion Survey - AJK : Report 2.0

I would suggest reading the following to gain some background detail to this proposed internal political process for AJK:

Reclaiming Azad Jammu Kashmir For Her People

Various Notes and References to the 'People' of Kashmir

Dibyesh Anand Interview on JKTV

Sponsoring War vs Sponsoring Peace

Barriers to an Internal Political Process

Financing an Internal Political Process

A Solution cannot be Achieved in a Static Mode

Our Strength Lies in Convincing Each Other Rather than the World

Meanwhile, I didn't want to give any further attention to the following individual, any more than I have already but this satirical piece is equally hilarious and serious too: ‘If we can’t spread hatred for Hindus what was the point of creating Pakistan,’ asks Fayyaz Chohan

...

The war in our territory hasn't quite ceased.

1755hrs: From Poonch Sector
Sharafat Hussain s/o Abdul Qayoom, 32 years of age hailing from the village of Chahi in Darra Sher Khan was shot in the head from Indian cross fire. He was taken in a critical condition to DHQ Kotli from where he was referred to Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Locals believe he was targetted.

2039hrs :
Battal, Gohi, Darra Sher Khan, Serra and Mandhol are witnessing incessant cross-fire.







Monday, 4 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 63 of 2019

1827hrs:


Now, having read through the above article, it transpires that the Urdu text of the tweet is actually a quote of Maqbool Bhat. Here's the translation:

The solution of the Kashmir issue can only be arrived at through dialogue & consensus and if we were to invite somebody to come and fight our war, we would only be damaging ourselves.

Remember that the war just requires constant struggle and (meaningful) discussion because we are a dignified and independent nation (from a historical perspective).

End of translation....

The article referenced above ends with a very appropriate couplet.

Urdu                                                                 

Khwaisho se nahi girtey phal joli me             
Waqt ki shaakh ko mere dost hilaana hoga     
Kuch nahi hoga andherey ko bura kehne se 
Apney hissey ka diya khud hi jalaana hoga   

English translation:

Not by (mere) desire does fruit fall into the lap
The branch of time my friend has to be shaken
Nothing will emerge by (just) criticising darkness
A share of the flame must be lit by us too

Now, the prime minister in the closest neighbouring country to us, has suddenly got my serious attention. I wonder if I'll get a response to this retweet. After all, I've waited many years for Pakistan to walk the walk. So much so that I've even created a twitter hashtag for it: #PakWalkDTalk
Now, on the surface the above tweet sounds magnanimous but let's not forget what happened to Shahid Afridi when he spoke in favour of Kashmir's independence, barely 3 months ago.

On this very day, Al Jazeera puts some spotlight on AJK - first web text feature ever to my knowledge - with this suggestive title: In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a shrinking pro-freedom space

I particularly liked the following quote from it:

Tariq Farooq, a senior minister in the AJK government, concurred with that view.

"Anybody can do anything, claim anything, discuss anything in this area. In our government, everybody has full fundamental rights to speak anything which is related with human rights," he told Al Jazeera in the AJK capital, Muzaffarabad.

Asked if that freedom extended to parties advocating for Pakistani forces to leave Kashmir, he said: "They can't say that".

End of quote:

I also gave my feedback to Al Jazeera in the following manner:

Many thanks for giving some attention to AJK. I would strongly suggest doing a similar piece on Gilgit Baltistan, if possible.

Ultimately, ditto for Jammu & Ladakh too. In that way, a global reader can get a rough idea of the various internal public narratives existing in the erstwhile princely State of Jammu & Kashmir.

I appreciate you reading this

Tanveer Ahmed

- An independent researcher on AJK

ajkpublicagency.org

End of feedback....

...

The following conversation adds even more intellectual nourishment to the concept of an internal political process, which I will now write about tomorrow. Meanwhile, this footage is from yesterday:



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Sunday, 3 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 62 of 2019

0307hrs:

The white flag in AJK is responding to regional military aggression with thoughtful vengeance:


Its been a wet and cold day today. Enough chill to quieten the guns of our neighbours it seems. The day after a night of rage, costing us innocent lives and much else yet again.

After all, this cartoon depicts how a lot of us feel:

Source: Whatsapp

1530hrs: Update from Pakistan's capital - Islamabad

12 Members of JKSLF and JKNSF were arrested outside Islamabad Press Club for protesting against cross LOC killings in their (own) territory (of J & K) and detained at Margalla (Some reports cite Kohsar) Police Station. Amongst those detained were Sardar Talha, Waqas Manzoor and Irfan Qayoom.

This led to a protest for their release outside Rawalpindi Press Club in the adjoining city:


They were released after 2 hours....

Earlier today, I received the following video which sickened my perception of the Pakistani State even further than it had ever in the past:

 
Baba Jaan has been a prisoner of conscience for almost 8 years now. Citizens of AJK have been prevented from meeting him, despite travelling over 24 hours to reach his prison. Yet, when he wants to say something in solidarity with Pakistan over their 'war' with India, local media is facilitated to interview him in custody. The Pakistani flag and patriotic musical theme which drowns out the words of Baba Jaan and his interviewer is what sickens me in particular.

Fight peacefully for the genuine rights of your people and they declare you a traitor to their country, for trying to disrupt Chinese business with Pakistan (via Gilgit Baltistan). This while they describe your land to the world as a disputed territory waiting for a plebiscite to ascertain the local people's will. They then lock you and other peaceful protestors up, sentencing you to 40 years in prison for your genuine patriotism (to your own land).

However, even if you pretend to show solidarity with them, they remove all obstacles in your path. You can be as corrupt as you want, as long as you tow the Pakistani narrative.

I would consider this tactic to be a major reason for Pakistan's failure as a nation State. Not least because merit has no space in such system of governance, whereas hypocrisy has all the space it needs to flourish.

Good luck - Pakistan.   

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 61 of 2019

0246hrs: Update from Sialkot (Pakistan) and adjacent to Jammu province of J & K, on the working boundary
- Heavy exchange of fire here too.
- According to AJK Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas, 8 people have been killed and 20 injured along the LOC in AJK.

0300hrs: From Kotli
DHQ (District Headquarters Hospital) Kotli is appealing for blood donors.

0352hrs: From Bhimber Sector
Locals are hearing sounds of heavy fire, such that they've never heard before.
- Meanwhile, it appears that there is an unusual lapse in media coverage tonight, which can easily be described as the heaviest round of fighting since the current version of this un-necessary conflict began.

0457hrs: From Kotli Sector
Heavy shelling continues in tehsil Nikyaal and Tattapani. Civilian casualties are being brought to DHQ Kotli.

0700hrs: From Poonch Sector
It is reported that 300 people comprising of 60 households have left their homes in Mankote.
- It is reported that the Pakistani army checkpost in Battal is preventing locals from leaving the area. Apparently, they had been given an opportunity to leave earlier but - according to the Pakistani army - now they had to stay put.

0700hrs: From Kotli Sector
Whilst firing has been almost continuous throught the night from the working boundary (in Jammu) to Kel in Neelam, it appeared most damaging in Kotli. 

1200hrs: From Kotli Sector
O (-) negative blood group is urgently sought at DHQ Kotli
Contact:  Sardar Osama - 03450502806 / Azhar Choudhary - 03401541040

1251hrs: From Muzaffarabad
According to DC Badar Munir, 58 individuals  (mostly women and children) have arrived from areas around the LOC near Chakothi. They are staying with their relatives but the AJK administration is providing them mattresses and other necessary items, we are led to understand.

1400hrs: From Hattian Bala
Temporary camps have been erected at the AJK University campus here to accomodate those fleeing from the Line of Control. An eye-witness of the camps explains that 360 people have been adjusted in 3 classrooms. They consist of women and children but each sack-like blanket provided has to be shared between 6 people. The AJK administration explains that it is short of funds (isn't that forever the refrain?).

1655hrs: Back to base in Dadyaal

So, it has taken me many hours of combing through data over the past couple of days, to establish a set of events that give us some idea of the damage done to us, as opposed to the damage India and Pakistan inflict on each other in our territory. Despite that, we still lack detail and accuracy.

Role of Civil Society in AJK:

We have discussed data collection of casualties by local correspondents in each tehsil (subdivision) adjoining the LOC, on a number of occasions.

However, as our people have been trained to be reactive rather than proactive over the decades - if not centuries - we are always more likely to witness ad hoc behaviour rather than a consistent institution-building process here.

For the sake of posterity (once again), here's a proposed structure:

- There should be at least one correspondent in each tehsil adjoining the LOC. Of the 32 tehsils, half of them (16) can count in this description:

From north to south:
1) Sharda
2) Athmaqam
(both in district Neelam)
3) Leepa
4) Hattian
(both in district Hattian Bala)
5) Bagh (in the district of the same name)
6) Haveli
7) Khursheedabad
8) Mumtazabad
(all 3 in district Haveli)
9) Abbaspur
10) Hajeera
(both in district Poonch)
11) Kotli
12) Nikyaal
13) Khuiratta
14) Charoi
(all 4 in district Kotli)
15) Smaahni
16) Barnaala
(both in district Bhimber)

Important details to collect by correspondents:

1) Name:
2) Father's name:
3) Address:
4) Gender:
5) Age:

For anybody affected by LOC cross-firing leading to:
i) Death
ii) Injuries (description if possible)
iii) Displaced - At least detail of head of family and number of individuals
iv) Damages - property, livestock etc. 

If we - as civil society in AJK - were to accurately collect such details within 24 hours, it would assist us in making our own government accountable and by extension India and Pakistan.

Role of the AJK Government:

Whenever such an emergency situation arises, the AJK government never seems to have any contingency in place. Zero planning and preparation are always apparent.

Those who fall ill are always handed prescriptions rather than medicine. The government of AJK begins urging its own citizens to appeal to the world for help. Various NGOs are contacted too, in an effort to shift the responsibilities that local politicians are mandated for.

All this in a territory that is abundant with naural resources but where the government - in normalcy - makes a point of avoiding issues of governance, research, planning, merit and accountability.

In such emergency conditions, the public is more or less expected to fend for itself in all matters. Protection from Indo-Pak crossfire (in 72 years of an intermittent conflict, there are still barely any bunkers of note in the whole of AJK), livelihood, food, shelter, transport, medical treatment etc. etc.

Some of our people, when escaping from war have to travel by foot while carrying their infants and elderly on their shoulders. Sometimes, during the middle of the night where it might take them hours to reach the nearest urban centre.

In such conditions, many people don't even bother approaching the government because they are convinced that the latter won't do anything for them anyway.

Many of these areas near the LOC in AJK have very little or no means of electronic communication in normalcy. In wartime - such as now - even that is invariably blocked. At times without notice. for example, while the person is making a frantic emergency call to relatives to help.

The role of the UN, which is obviously the largest humanitarian organisation in the world, is also minimal in this region and remains confined to UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan), which in itself has a very narrow set of duties that limit them from interaction with locals.

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Having said all that, it appears that the AJK government has put in some effort to document our losses and their 'intent' on mitigating them:

Page 1 of 2

Page 2 of 2
It was also on this day, that Mahmood Ahmed Musafir returned to AJK, after spending over a year on the road in public interest:

Sitting amongst his co-citzens in Dadyaal 

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 296 of 2019

2216hrs: Intrigue continues............I'm still playing catch up...... .......