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Monday, 8 June 2009

MUZAFFARABAD - DAY 15


Saturday 06/06/09

So, the godfather didn't turn up after all.

He was due in Muzaffarabad via helicopter at about 10:00am. He didn't arrive, the weather didn't permit him to fly, or so we have been led to believe. Re-schedule? Again, we are led to believe.

Before, I get to reality or at least as close to it as my sources permit; let me tell you that my morning has been spent procrastinating. Last night I deferred meeting the IG. It was late by the time I had finished from the netcafe. Another evening spent in being able to upload just 2 videos, with another 40 odd pending. I decided that I should be up nice and early before the security cordon kicks in and make a beeline for the IG's office, letter of intent and placard in tow.

In actual fact, I couldn't sleep much last night and spent much of it on the web. Sleep finally arrived after dawn and though I kept waking up at intervals, I decided that a prolonged snooze was in order. Whenever I woke up, I reasoned that Zardari would hardly be the punctual type. It wasn't until about mid-day that I finally mustered the resolve to get up. I still had the placard to write up sans stencil. My writing was a bit lop-sided as expected and here is what I wrote:

MR ZARDARI...YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN KASHMIR

YOU ARE ADVISED TO RETURN TO PAKISTAN AND FACE THE OVER 22 ALLEGATIONS OF

MURDER AND EXTORTION THAT HANG OVER YOUR CONSCIENCE

IF YOU ARE INNOCENT, LET THE INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY OF PAKISTAN DECIDE, NOT

POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY

THE PEOPLE OF KASHMIR WISH TO JOIN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

NOT "WAIT FOR ANOTHER GENERATION"

TAKE THE PAKISTANI ARMY WITH YOU ON YOUR WAY OUT AND SET US FREE

As soon as I reached my car, well after lunch, I was given what felt to be glad tidings that Zardari hadn't come after all.
Phew! What a relief. It would've been a travesty of grave proportions had I
missed out on this opportunity of a life-time (to agitate).

Reality

My sources inform me that the reality of Zardari's no-show are as follows:
-That at least 4 cabinet members of the ruling Muslim Conference, including the PM Sardar Yaqoob were to announce their shift of allegiance to the Pakistan People's Party. This move was allegedly leaked beforehand by 2 other cabinet members of the Muslim Conference. A storm was brewing and taking into account this would've been Zardari's first official visit to Azad Kashmir, an air of unpredictability prevailed.
-Allied to that, the previous PM Sardar Atiq had planned some heavy-duty
agitation to avenge his ouster in January. Zardari is thought to have been instrumental in that move, as per Pakistani tradition I might add.
-Uncertainty amongst the Kashmiri public (read-certain political agents) about America's incessant pressure on Pakistan to shift it's troops away from the LOC in Kashmir and it's international border with India by moving them to the Afghan Border, was also considered a significant factor.
-Last and possibly not least was the embarrassing news that a Chinese company which had been given a meaty contract by the MDA (Muzaffarabad Development Authority) to develop Muzaffarabad had cancelled it's contract and left. This was amidst rumours of the Chinese being constantly pestered by government officials for kickbacks and the like.

Besides, the godfather has enough on his plate than to make a grand regal visit to what he'll perceive as his "colony". It is estimated that tens of millions of rupees had been spent from the AJK budget to facilitate his visit.

Numerous advertisements in newspapers, billboards, a week-long paralysed government machinery, a grand feast prepared at the Pearl Continental (that overlooks my humble shack, as described a couple of blogs ago) and lots and lots of sundry expense.

All this expenditure prioritised over vital public infrastructure investment, is a smack in the teeth for the people of Azad Kashmir. The pipes which supply water to my neighbourhood haven't been updated for over 30 years. One of the reasons professed is lack of funds. All that wastage for someone who many consider to not only be the worst speciman of a politician that Pakistan has ever had: Rather, that he's the worst the world has ever seen. Having said that, he didn't have the courage to turn up and give us the pleasure of making our sentiments known to him, as loud and as clear as our throats could amplify.

On a rather more modest note, my meeting with the private college proprietor didn't take place. My diesel and hence my money were wasted as he wasn't there as scheduled. I don't enjoy being pissed about and I'm virtually resigned to dropping this as an avenue for desperately needed income.

Late in the evening, I learn that my ID card isn't missing after all. I left it in the guard's room at the Supreme Court last week. One of their drivers belatedly informs me at a vegetable stall, noticing me from afar.

After all that, tomorrow's a rest day for my blog...a lot to catch up on as my cliche goes....photo and video uploading is still stuck on the 6th of May while time has raced to the 6th of June.

I'm having to confront a lot of limitations simultaneously. Be they technological, financial, energy related viz. electricity, water, desi ghee or others. Yet, I'll be willing to shout from the roof-top that I'm content, determined and what's more; I'm getting news that our cross-LOC permit applications are close to being finalised. A long, long journey has but just a few steps to go!

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