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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

MUZAFFARABAD - DAY 9


Saturday 30/05/09

I feel a lot more orderly now that I spent the whole of yesterday on the PC. I'm also pretty confident of becoming efficient at what I'm trying to achieve. Adding to that is my increasingly boisterous sense of purpose. Namely to expose Pakistan for what it is. Those among my readers who have faith in Pakistan and/or give it a sacred status need to peer hard at the salient features of this country, most prominent that it is primarily a security state; it's existence ostensibly to provide "security" to any country or organisation in the world bar India. I do apologise profusely for being so harsh but as events are gradually unfolding before our eyes, I'm confident that Pakistanis will come to understand the sanity of my reasoning.

Today's schedule involves a meeting with the AJK (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) Prime Minister Sardar Yaqoob Khan. I have other people's issues to raise with him beside my own and after a two hour wait, I'm ushered in to his office.

His first question is to ask me about the sling on my right arm. This is a ready-made opportunity for me to explain my recent cycle ride. The first issue that I raise is that of my cousin's return to the police force. Upon careful study of the latter's features, the PM surprises me and my cousin by remarking that he looked like a thief! He in turn, never slow to fire back, informed the PM that he had served in the police force for 23 years. I seconded him by stating if one were without an income for over 3 years, what is one expected to appear as?

Having dealt with other issues and noticing that the PM was anxious to leave for Islamabad, I explained that our discussion needed at least 30 uninterrupted minutes of his valuable time. My conversation would centre on the relationship between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. I gave a slight gist of the theme by outlining that advances in communication technology necessitated that we cease to be complacent. Old formats of governance that paralysed the development of the Kashmiri people for almost 62 years can not withstand the rapidly changing emotions of the people.

Sardar Yaqoob Khan appears an efficient and no-nonsense type of character; in line with what one could and should expect of someone from a business background. Having said that, he spent a couple of unnecessary minutes in praising himself for being so accessible. This was a chord that was reminiscent of his predecessor Sardar Atiq. In any case, I'll probably have to wait til the 7th of June before I get his undivided attention.

I know his focus is on the annual budget that Pakistan pretends to dole out to the Kashmiri people. It's due in a few days and no doubt the PM will be made to grovel for the scraps that come this side of Kohalla (The bridge near Muzaffarabad that connects Pakistan to Azad Kashmir).

On my way out, his principal secretary was keen to delve into my background.

Our conversation made it's way to the partition of the sub-continent. I explained my stance that partition was a horrible error of immense magnitude. The creation of Pakistan complicated our region viz. Kashmir and bridging the divide required a herculean effort. His alternate analysis reflected the historical narrative that has been taught to people in Pakistan and this part of Kashmir. Namely, that Hindus and Muslims cannot co-exist and that in an un-divided India, muslims would have been marginalised and their political influence minimal.

Everyone is undoubtedly entitled to their viewpoint but I politely suggested that he keep an open mind for the future.

Solutions almost always necessitate a change in mindset.

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