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Friday, 29 May 2009

MUZAFFARABAD - KOKOI DAY 5


Saturday 23/05/09

My 3 year old daughter wakes up with a persistent cough every morning. Hotel food with it's abundance of inferior ghee and questionable hygiene is taking it's toll on my family and me. Yes, it is grossly unfair of me to put my family through the pain and torture of what I am going through. This is providing the drive for me to become efficient and more focussed at the job at hand. I am doing what I am doing because the living standards for most people in this region are dire. I would feel even more guilty if I were to transport my family and I to the UK to live a selfish existence.

In particular, I need the support of the Azad Kashmiri community in the UK to help me in my endeavours. If they took interest, my work would be a lot more effective and they would be involved in positive change, that would ultimately benefit them too. Coming "home" to a society that had a robust public infrastructure, where education was more in tune with global standards, where law and order was visible and where economic opportunity for the locals took away the burden on "British" visitors to "help out"; surely they understood the need for a sincere, concerted and disciplined effort to produce all these human requirements, rather more than the "locals".

As my cousin (the dismissed police constable) and I take the long walk to the Capital's administrative hub, he lauds my determination but I sense he wonders why I'm putting myself through such agony.

I make a point of re-visiting the chief secretary's office. Though they gave me a tentative date of the 26th, I wanted to ensure that my letter had been read and registered with the Chief.

I was urged to meet the additional secretary (presumably, the chief's number 2). Upon reading my letter, he felt that this was an issue above his jurisdiction and that the chief (Pakistan's de facto governor in Azad Kashmir) himself was the only person competent enough to address the contents of my letter. A date of the 27th has now been given to me. No guarantee of course; I reminded the chief's personal secretary of the seriousness of the issues at hand. His reply was that he was doing his job in the best manner possible and that he shouldn't be held responsible for the supposed crimes of others. A familiar bureaucratic lament, synonymous with the sub-continent.

I learn that my attempts to procure a place of residence for my family is still probably a day away. It would be unwise for me to make them endure hotel life any longer than they have. Reluctant though I feel, I decide that spending a few days back in the village will refresh and re-invigorate me and my family. I shall come back on the 27th and in the meantime my Muzaffarabad residence, financial replenishment (if I'm fortunate) and an opportunity to make up for wasted time seemed sufficient reason to take my foot off the pedal for a few days.

I miss my Naani too.

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