|This question baffles me at times|
The title translates thus: Is Azad (free-independent) Kashmir synonymous with free thought?
Procrastination should be deemed a crime, a sin and in my case a self-inflicted injustice of grave proportions.
While the progressive and enlightened beings in this region increase in number and pace, I find myself suffocating in my own creative thought. Not content with accepting the world as it is and encountering a political structure that is designed to repress, suppress and corrupt; I have finally come to terms with the challenges ahead of me.
First, foremost and most dear to my heart: The reunion of my Naani with her siblings across the LOC, seperated by a cruel political structure that has outlasted the 'Berlin Wall' by almost two decades. I've now been here for four years and thirteen days. I've also been informed that our LOC permit applications have returned from across the divide, yet more than a month on, the authorities here deny that they have received anything.
Secondly, a chap by the name of Bashir has made more than 12 Crore Rupees (over a million pounds) from money that he so cleverly enticed from my uncle and his friends since 1992. Despite pursuing the original claim of 90 lakh rupees within the 'rule of law', all I've witnessed is a fraudster skillfully negotiating every legal hurdle that he came across.
He now sits comfortably in the hospital of Adiala Jail-Rawalpindi, enjoying all his creature comforts and safe in the knowledge that he's given out a contract to kill me.
Let me put everything in as clear a perpective as possible:
I am sick and tired of the system of governance that pervades Pakistan. My experience suggests that it is yet to accomodate citizens who wish to follow the rule of law. Taking into account the fact that even the restoration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan relied on political activism, I have no alternative but to seek a political solution to my claim of 12 Crores. For more than four years, I have put my money where my mouth is. No more I say; I am unwilling to spend a single rupee furthermore, until my claim is settled. I feel the Pakistani State needs to take responsibilty for the utter disdain that the vast majority of Pakistani citizens have for the rule of law.
I do not seek this money for my personal aggrandizement. Rather, I aim to use the bulk of this money for the progress and development of this region. I shall itemise the allocation as follows:
6 Crore : For the development of Kashmir
3 Crore : Proportionately divided for the development of Indo-Pak & Bangladesh
1 Crore : My uncle's due plus expenses incurred
1 Crore : Collective due of Uncle's friends
1 Crore : For me and my family
Some might consider me far-fetched or to have lost the plot. If you consider that on the one hand, this cretin Bashir has connived his way to amassing a substantial personal fortune from my uncle and his friend's money (with the assistance of redundant political relics such as Sheikh Rasheed and Chaudary Shujaat). Why can't this money be used to enhance the importance of the rule of law, improve education, administrative reform, media awareness etc? Development is an expensive business and the average Pakistani citizen will be aware of how much blatant neglect has been shown to these essential areas of human development. Examples need to be set and I contest that this would be a perfect example to indicate a change of direction for this region.
Cycling from Kokoi (Sehnsa) to Muzaffarabad
Many ask, why not a car or even a motorbike, particularly when your life is in danger? Well, I don't have any money and I have no intention of borrowing any when such a substantial sum lies with a notorious crook, in connivance with redundant politicians such as Sheikh Rasheed and Chaudary Shujaat. I wish to connect with the people of Kashmir and understand their problems and aspirations. I intend to display my intent and seriousness in understanding the region, irrespective of whatever challenges I may face.
When I conducted my cycle ride from Torkhem (Afghanistan border with Pakistan) to Wagah (Indian border with Pakistan) in July/August 2007, a similar vein of thought was applied. The only difference was that I began that journey with 20,000 PK rupees in my pocket. Here, I'm starting with zero. Thus, utterly reliant on the Kashmiri public and nature to come to my assistance.
I aim to discuss the importance of the rule of law with the Kashmiri public and assess their sentiment. I desire to gauge their thoughts on the relationship between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
How they view the effect of India and Pakistan's military presence in the region and it's effect on their day-to-day life?
Are they comfortable with the terms of trade recently initiated across the LOC and are they content with the restrictive terms for people's movement between the two parts of Kashmir?
Furthermore, how do they view the role of Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies in Kashmir?
I hope to discuss my findings and seek a resolution of the Bashir issue with the chief secretary in Muzaffarabad (Pakistan's main political agent and de facto governor of Pakistani-administered Kashmir).
The pattern of governance in the Muslim world
The citizens of the Muslim world appear to have some common traits and features which hamper their progress. Disenfranchisement, suppression of creative thought and innovation, absence of viable institutions to connect the aspirations and harness the talent of the public. A problematic relationship with people of other faiths where intolerance and hatred mar peaceful co-existence and mutual economic benefit. A confusion about the role of muslim women in public life, a reliance or dependence on the 'West' to give them political concessions and innovative technology. The list is endless whereas the time for introspection is nigh. With over 60% of the muslim world under the age of 35 and getting younger by the day (sic), if Muslim society does not come to terms with it's own defects, a political explosion is imminent.
I'm merely trying to voluntarily and on my own initiative, stem this horrible tide.
Finally, Azad Kashmir at this stage is most certainly not a hub for free thought. I sincerily hope it will be.