Wednesday 29 December 2010

What terrorises Kashmir?

What does Kashmir need to do to make it plain to the world that it's own ethos is based on tolerance and plurality, in absolute consonance with it's tranquil environment. It could even be argued to be an antecedent of Indian secularism. 

The idea for the title of this week's column comes from the title of a piece written in the Wall Street Journal by Sadanand Dhume on Monday the 20th of December entitled, "What Terrorizes India?" A somewhat provocative piece analysing the relative de-merits and threat posed to India by extreme right-wing/fundamentalist Muslim and Hindu groups, clearly incensed by Rahul Gandhi's comment that the latter posed a much bigger threat to India than the former.

It could well be that India has or will develop the capacity to contain radicalism (whatever be it's origin): what is absolutely unclear is how Kashmiri society will put a stop to the haemorrhage that it has endured for the past sixty-three years on account of India and Pakistan's competing national identities?

What does Kashmir need to do to make it plain to the world that it's own ethos is based on tolerance and plurality, in absolute consonance with it's tranquil environment. It could even be argued to be an antecedent of Indian secularism. Thus, integrating into an Indian national identity that holds itself out as an appealing alternative to Pakistan's uncouth Islamic radicalism holds little water. Indeed. The growth of Islam in Kashmir  has been markedly different from how it has developed in the Indian sub-continent. A healthy spiritual undercurrent in the shape of sufism found absolute harmony with Kashmir's cultural ethos. It is terrorising for Kashmir to be mired in a binary conflict with incessant push and pull tactics devised by India and Pakistan.

What exacerbates this onslaught of terror is how the 'international community' perceives the Kashmir problem. The U.S. and it's junior partner Britain, can not see Kashmir out of the context of their presence in Afghanistan, their reliance on Pakistan and their commmercial and strategic interests that depend on Indian favour. It is terrorising for a people who want to be immune from the conflict of their neighbours, to be faced with such heavy odds to attain the rights enshrined in the UN Charter. What is suffocation of civil space and repression of freedom for Kashmir, is the wrong end of a mere strategic calculation for the international community.

One is horrified to read America's reservations about an independent Kashmir: That it will become a bastion of 'Islamic terror'. It has made little effort to understand that all mechanisms of 'terror' have been imported or thrusted upon the people of Kashmir, they are certainly not indigenous or intrinsic. A neutral Kashmir would seek guarantees from the 'international community' that it's neighbours refrain from exporting conflict and it's associated ills to Kashmir.

Taking into account the limited change evoked by the India-Pakistan peace process and the international community's apathy, the consequent lack of incentive to 'shun the gun' is a terrorising thought. Further, that the 'international community' and global media give a celebrity status to activism for Tibet ( a la Richard Gere), give sustained focus to Tianenmen Square and find it expedient to devote personal attention to conflict in the oil rich gulf states. It is terrorising to think that oil (which is essentially replace-able) is given far more global attention than water (whch is essentially irreplace-able) and which can be easily foreseen to be the major source of future global conflict. Again, a neutral and responsible Kashmir could forestall such a scenario and save the world from un-ending strife.

Closer to home, our neighbours India and Pakistan are increasingly being accused by their respective civil societies of not working for their national interest. The presence of Indian, Pakistani and Chinese military on our soil is not just terrifying in terms of their presence, it is terrifying for their populations who make a direct connection of this phenomena with the paucity of resources left over - year on year - for their development. There are ample examples of Indian and Pakistani politicians grandstanding on the Kashmir issue in order to present a faux patriotic stance to their public. Misappropriation of funds earmarked by New Delhi and Islamabad for Kashmir's development by these very politicians (in conjunction with local lackeys) is a terrifying thought.

This stack of terror has a local dimension too. Realising that the attitude of many people (of the erstwhile Dogra State) hasn't changed an iota since the anarchy of October 1947 is foremost in one's mind. Debating on the relative 'merits' of Hindu or Muslim rule in Kashmir not only shows how much baggage we continue to carry from 1947, it highlights how little we understand what is needed for fulfilling our aspirations and potential for progress. The perennial 'religious identity' argument mires us deeper into an abyss.

Further fractures have been evolved by politicians, certainly on this side of the divide (viz. Pakistani-administered Kashmir) in the shape of caste (biraderi) based politics. It shouldn't be surprising that no party has ever proposed a political manifesto, let alone economic policy here. Those members of the public who resisted this superficial approach have been politically, economcally and socially ostracised, adding a direct layer of suppression and terror.

Yet another terrorising thought is the absence of a clear, unified and representative voice that could speak on behalf of all regions of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir. India and Pakistan have of course played their part in dividing opinion and their prevention of movement between the various regions from around 1948 to 2005 - despite no such prohibition imposed by UNCIP resolutions - is a glaring testimony to this view. 

A recent study by Robert Bradnock for Chatham House, not only confirmed a burning aspiration for independence (figure given was 43% overall but for some inexplicable reason ommitted various areas that are perceived to strongly support the notion of an independent Kashmir i.e The Neelam Valley), it also highlighted unemployment and corruption as the major concerns of the population on either side of the divide. It is terrorising to know that the public sector on both sides is heavily bloated, in an attempt to de-politicise the masses. Furthermore, minsicule support for Pakistani presence in Kashmir confirms the international community's blinkered supposition that India and Pakistan need to work together to resolve the 'Kashmir Issue'. Another terrorising thought.

One is of the opinion that Kashmir needs to be discussed and resolved by the respective countries that control each part under their administration. For example, Pakistan needs to discuss Kashmir with stakeholders that reside in the part of Kashmir that they control and vice versa for India. One would further contend that India and Pakistan talks on Kashmir would never lead to a resolution; certainly not a resolution that would satisfy all the diverse ethnic, regional and political thought that aggregates the 'disputed territory'.

It is important to remember that Kashmir was a profitable State in 1846 (hence, Ghulab Singh's payment to the British) and 164 years on, it has been relegated to an economic basket case, supposedly dependent on Islamabad and New Delhi's magnanimity. The fact that Kashmir's economy has not only been prevented from growing organically, it is clear to see that India, Pakistan and China's presence here is an on-going ordeal of terror.


The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 29th of December 2010

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Neele Gagan Ke Tale

Neelam or Kishenganga?

The binary system of one interest pitted against the other is played out between India and Pakistan on many fronts. Exchanging gunfire across the LOC is not quite passé yet but the war of attrition is now played out through a race to build hydro projects in the region. The net result in any event is huge human and ecological cost to Kashmir.

What started in Pakistani Administered Kashmir (PaK) as the 969 MW (Mega Watts) Neelam-Jhelum Hydro Project in January 2008 was 'countered' by the 330 MW Kishenganga Hydro Project in January 2009, a mere 70 kilometres upstream in Indian Administered Kashmir. The former with the assistance of American, Chinese and Norwegian firms whilst the latter is being built in conjunction with a British firm. Despite the Indus Basin Water Treaty of 1960 (without Kashmiri consultation - K.H. Khursheed was apparently sacked from the AJK presidency for his defiance) not permitting both projects to operate simultaneously, Kishenganga is set for completion in 2016 and Neelam-Jhelum in 2017.

Both projects were conceived more than twenty years ago (Neelam-Jhelum as early as 1982) and though ecological concerns are apparent with Kishenganga's proposed 103 metre reservoir submerging some parts of the Gurez Valley, the emphasis of this piece is to highlight some of the concerns of the AJK population and in particular the inhabitants of Muzaffarabad district. One would be eager to read something covering the same topic from the other side of the divide.

It should be made clear that Pakistan started this $2.16 Billion project without fulfilling basic environmental obligations required for such development projects. Neither did it consult the public of PaK or make any written agreement with the PaK Government. The project's Chief Executive is a retired General, Zubair, more attuned to firing bullets than presiding over a hydro-electric project. An environmental law enacted in 2000 has proved to be somewhat of a (belated) saviour for the people of PaK, as an NOC from AJK's EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is required by law before the commencement of any infrastructure project in this territory, except that three years of work have been carried out before a public hearing to assess people's reservations has been conducted. The public hearing which took place this past Monday was requested by the EPA upon public demand last year.

It should be no surprise that the venue was packed with members of the public and lasted for over six hours. Each and every participant expressed serious reservations about the project and the panel of four Pakistanis (the General, an environmental analyst and two members of WAPDA- Pakistan's federal electricity board) was utterly inadequate in their attempt to appease the public. Even the South African Consultant (representing the American firm MWH) who they brought along to presumably give a colour of authenticity was evidently bemused at what he witnessed. His assertion that Rs 25 billion would be pumped into the AJK economy as a result of the project did little to allay people's concerns. 

The history of Mangla and the unfulfilled promises made by Pakistan in the 1960's is still fresh in people's minds. They understand that Pakistan is seriously deficient in meeting it's energy demands and that this project would be directly connected with Rawat or Gakhar Grid station (in Pakistan) through a 500KV double circuit transmission line. Free or subsidised electricity and zero load-shedding promised in the wake of Mangla Hydro Project looks to be repeated, albeit with some variations.

Persistent requests by the Pakistani panel to "trust us" ringed hollow, sounded clichéd and were bereft of rationale. They were startled somewhat by the level of awareness espoused by the public of PaK and the Kala Bagh Dam fiasco was cited as an example of Pakistan shifting its burden to a disputed territory, where it knew it had a pliant power structure ready to oblige it at any cost. What they under-estimated was the assertiveness of the public.

Pakistan's impression that the working models of old would suffice in pushing through their objectives have been repeatedly dashed in this age of communication technology, not just by Monday's public hearing but even by the reservations held out by the EPA. For example, when WAPDA initially submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report in February 2009, it was found to be prepared in 1996. Its revised report presented in July 2010 still left much to be addressed in terms of combating environmental hazards of the project.

At the public hearing, some members of the public staged a walk-out in disgust at the panel's inability to answer their questions. The general employed both 'carrot and stick' in his attempt to calm the situation down. He employed sweet language by waxing lyrical about the number of years he had spent in PaK and privately warned a Project affectee to, "Remember who the Sardar is, never take a panga with the Sardar." The Sardar, of course, is referring to the Government of Pakistan.

It should be abundantly clear at this stage that Pakistan has embarked on this project using a procedure which is not only inherently flawed but back to front. For example, the sequence if one were to employ universal and civilised norms would have been to first consult the public, obtain their approval via debate in the AJK Assembly, fulfill all criteria related to protection of the environment (incidentally, our most prized asset in Kashmir), subsequently obtain an NOC from the EPA and finally address social, economic and political concerns by guaranteeing benefit to the local population in the shape of employment, skills and technology transfer.

In an effort to understand what drives such disasters, the war of attrition played out between India and Pakistan in Kashmir must be focused on and conscientious civil efforts must be devised by the public of Kashmir to immunise us from this conflict. Whether the Neelam-Jhelum Hydro Project will attain fruition is still far from certain.

Is it a matter of sacrificing our ecology and natural habitats for Pakistan's energy needs? or is it a matter of 'national interest' (viz. Pakistan's) where the Neelam-Jhelum project will give Pakistan some leverage in the Indus Basin arbitration process and forestall India's alleged attempts to divert the upstream river flow for it's own needs?

During the forum, this writer made it clear that the panel had provided an inadequate response to people's questions. The question of legality of Pakistan's activity was also raised. Where members of the public couched their criticism of the project by a feigned allegiance to Pakistan, one has always had the privilege of saying what he feels, unconstrained by any associated interest. In an attempt to define 'national interest', which was the underlying current of the Pakistani panel's response, nothing was forthcoming.

In response, yours truly requested the panel to ask major stakeholders in the Pakistani power structure (be they the military, bureaucracy, politicians or anyone else who stood responsible for Pakistan's decisions) to come to Muzaffarabad imminently and face questions from the AJK public in a similar hearing. Our region needs to move forward with a clear definition of our national interest and the direction that we need to take.


The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 22nd of December 2010

This article was re-titled as "Power Politics" on December the 23rd 2010 by Vijay Sazawal, a Kashmiri Pandit living in the USA and running a website named

He also commented that:

"Tanveer says in the battle for hydro-electric power, Pakistan has ignored environmental impacts"

The article can be read at the following link:

This article was also referenced in:

 'The Indus Equation' by Strategic Foresight Group - Mumbai in 2011

Thursday 16 December 2010

A ringed rail and road network

The future can only possibly be bright if we are immunised from the conflict of our neighbours. Despite it's heavy toll on our national expenditure and engineering prowess, it would pay dividends in the shape of easy mobility for citizens of the State, re-invigorate the concept of integrity, ease our custom/immigration process and - subject to a treaty with our neighbours and the international community - ward off external military intervention.

A circular rail and road network that juts the periphery and links each and every city of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. This network would not only identify the contours of what - to date - is described as a disputed territory but it would re-unite the geographic entity that existed till the 22nd of October 1947. Thereby, simplifying the national question of what direction citizens of a disputed territory divided by the physical presence of three neighbouring countries should take; on their path to progress and competition with an ever shrinking world. This would indeed constitute a re-development or a continuation (post-disruption) on what the British either deliberately or inadvertently facilitated between March 1846 and October 1947.

Indeed, the Indian Independence Act of 3rd June 1947 gave full cover for the continuation of a 'mulk' or in post-renaissance European parlance; a nation state, namely Jammu & Kashmir. Urges by Moundbatten, Gandhi and Jinnah to commit to one or the other dominion notwithstanding.

Before we embark on this new phase of existence which should be characterised by economic development and backed by a lucid structure of govenance, we need to understand the background to as well as the events which transpired in that fateful month of October (1947). How, in the space of five days (between the 22nd and the 27th), the adamantly independent-minded Maharaja's State was swamped with Indian and Pakistani soldiers, under the close watch and command of the remnants of the British Raj.

Unravelling what really happened in that month of ill-fortune is an immediate task of seekers of genuine history. It is equally possible that a clean narrative exists. In which case, yours truly needs to pull his socks up.

The question and indeed theory propounded by many a keen researcher, invariably points fingers at a selfish British motive to contain Soviet advancement into the Indian realm. It is questionable whether the cold war really involved such forward-planning at such an elementary stage, that it precipitated the split of what was essentially North India into West and East Pakistan. Simultaneously, the remainder of what was North India was 're-connected' administratively with South India, in continuation or rather an upgradation of how British India's governance functioned, minus the headache of princely states and the bulk of the muslim population of the region.

Others perceive partition to be a cunning diversion away from a possible backlash against the outgoing British and an accomplishment of British policy - post 1857 - to emphasise the seperate identities of Hindus and Muslims in the region. Utilising those fissures to subsequently divide the State of Jammu and Kashmir and give each of the dominions a share of the 'cake': thereby facilitating high budgetary expenses of both countries on defence (at the cost of development) to 'defend' the parts of the State (of Jammu and kashmir) under their control. It can be further argued that both countries -  post-independence - have bought a fair share of their military hardware and facilitated military/economic expansion of the 'West' in this region.

It is important at this juncture to not disclude the rights movement during the Dogra era which erupted at times during the 1880's and is most noted by the events in Srinagar on July the 13th 1931. Despite a majority of 80% Muslims throughout the State, Hindus are alleged to have been given preferences in jobs, business opportunity, education and land holdings. It is further alleged that the life of a Muslim was not equal before the law to that of a Hindu. There is certainly evidence of Muslim government servant's pay being lower than that of an equivalently placed Hindu. To use a proverbial cliche, the final straw that broke the camel's back could be Hari Singh's decision to dis-arm all Muslims once he got wind of an impending tribal attack from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province in October 1947.

The psyche that accompanied the two-nation theory definitely played it's part in formenting the genocide that took place in this territory (on all sides of the religious divide). Whatever may have been the inspiration or passion that instigated mob rule was consolidated by the military presence of India and Pakistan on either side of the political divide. To this day, depending on which territory (or even religious affiliation) a citizen of this State resides in, opinion is still sharply divided as to whether foreign military presence is a protector or destroyer of civil liberty. One could argue with conviction backed by ample evidence that the net result of military presence here is a stifling of civil space.

It is equally important to cite some positive attributes of Dogra rule - which if allowed to evolve unhindered by outside influence would in all likelihood, have transformed this State from autocratic rule to fully-fledged and functioning democratic rule. Indeed, Hari Singh's decision to construct a Praja Sabha in 1934, the prior formation of the Muslim Conference in the wake of events in 1931 and the Maharajah's pledge to relegate himself to that of a titular head and thus transfer all powers to the assembly in early 1947, were all indications of political evolution under an administrative structure that had all the ingredients of a modern nation-state. Except, that events largely out of the control of the Maharajah or his subjects, were thrust upon the State.

Returning to the title of this opinion piece, in order to allay allegations of 'wishful thinking', it has been important to re-visit aspects of our shared history which have been 'brushed under the carpet' by the sustained exigencies of Indian and Pakistani national identity. The future can only possibly be bright if we are immunised from the conflict of our neighbours. Despite it's heavy toll on our national expenditure and engineering prowess, it would pay dividends in the shape of easy mobility for citizens of the State, re-invigorate the concept of integrity, ease our custom/immigration process and - subject to a treaty with our neighbours and the international community - ward off external military intervention.

Preventing our religious affiliation from falling prey to the supposed honour of our neighbours is a first step to reducing militaristic presence on our soil. It is only then that civil space can be re-vitalised and the scope of economic opportunity widened. Arriving at an integrated opinion on our shared history would only surface in such a scenario. Those, who have pushed for a kashmir solution over the years - irrespective of their political affiliation – have paid scant regard for this imperative.  

Remembering that rule of law, infrastructure planning/implemetation, environmental integrity and meritocracy (in spite of evidence of Hindu-Muslim discrimination) were of a much higher standard than what we've witnessed post 1947; it maybe useful to put in context the high levels of endemic corruption in India, Pakistan and China. Our history since 1947 is replete with examples of how the most venal politicians (legitimised by India and Pakistan) have shrouded themselves with the tricoloured tiranga or the star and crescent, whenever their misdeeds necessitated. This is evidence of how genuine public representation that subscribes to the modern demands of 'good governance' can not emerge in this State, under the prevailing structures on either side of the divide.

The difficulty here is this: political and military organisations in this region have been designed to de-politicise and suppress. Otherwise, with an abundance of water resources, sunshine, clean air and open space; our population's intellectual curiosity  and drive for competing with the world would have been nourished. If the proposition of Hindus and Muslims not being able to co-exist was considered to be a disease, the cure in the shape of India and Pakistan has created much deeper problems. To cure the common cold, we in AJK - at least - have contracted political pneumonia. 

The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 15th of December 2010

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Identifying Azad Kashmir

Even the concept of funding research is difficult to grasp for most people. It is little wonder that most information relayed in society relies heavily on hearsay. The administration either doesn't have a clear picture itself or it deliberately hides
or obfuscates data.

In contemporay times, it is widely believed that Pakistan's standing in the eyes of Azad kashmiris fell after 9/11. Especially after the scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's 'arrest'. This era bizarrely co-incided with perhaps the most noble, productive, incorruptible and scrupulous visionary of a president in India, who also happened to share Abdul Qadeer's profession.

For a territory that is immersed in legal ambiguity (According to U.N. resolutions in 1948, Azad Kashmir is neither a sovereign state nor a province of Pakistan, but rather a "local authority" with responsibility over the area assigned to it under a 1949 ceasefire
agreement with India), it follows that independent research, writers and books are thin on the ground. This furthers the increasingly prevalent notion amongst people of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, that they were betrayed and silenced by their own for the larger (unproductive) interests of India and Pakistan.

The prevailing structures on both sides of the divide where obligations of livelihood have stunted creative thought and aspiration, most people are forced to distance themselves from the truth. It is only in rare moments of contemplation or frustration that what ought to be reality; surfaces. Consequently, what most people of the State have little stomach to listen to, others working for that dream have to work that bit harder, day in - day out.

'Azad Kashmir' is no exception. This makes productive research work so arduous. In the first instance, State funding is unavailable for such endeavour. One only needs to look at the Geology department of AJK University in Muzaffarabad or the Agriculture department in Rawalakot to understand that a superficial, pliant society does not produce the fruits of modern day progress.

Even the concept of funding research is difficult to grasp for most people. It is little wonder that most information relayed in society relies heavily on hearsay. The administration either doesn't have a clear picture itself or it deliberately hides
or obfuscates data.

One can widen the picture of visible 'output' by taking a cursory glance at the health sector where they'll discover a plethora of counterfeit drugs in the market. Education in the public sector has long been considerable undesirable by the public, where many
a teacher blames children and their lack of application for the pathetic standard.  It's alternative - though a booming industry - is characterised by rote learning and massaging academic results according to commercial imperative. This writer, in his direct experience of teaching at a private institution, found that creative learning techniques were impossible for students to digest. It is little wonder that the most widely spoken language in the world viz. English, far from aiding in the progress of AJK (Azad Jammu Kashmir) is considered an insurmountable hurdle to overcome and few citizens speak it competently, even less have the courage to write it.

On a visit to Srinagar last year and noticing the abundance of english newspapers and periodicals, this writer couldn't help commenting on the dearth or rather absence of such in AJK. Meanwhile, the urdu media is a continu-um of the three organs of the State with information pimps and artful extotionists featuring prominently.

Many a lawyer, academic, government servant and not forgetting politicians (including the Member of the Legislative Assembly that has represented this writer's constituency since 1996) exercise influence in society and earn their livelihood via fabricated degrees.

The critical fields of politics and media are where entry-level people have to work - for free - or worse, invest their own resources to position themselves in society. Once they are through the door, the structure of governance is designed to avail them of a multitude of opportunities to recoup (sic) their investment. This writer, after a series of lengthy discussions with Sardar Qayoom Khan in April 2008, found this tactic echoed in his recommendation.

Whilst reading this, many a resident of the Kashmir Valley may find stark similarities to how governance is run by the Indian-administered side, except the scenario is distinctly more dire here. It is compounded by the lack of awareness of modern means of governance, assisted by an opaque environment and the absence of a 'Freedom of information Act'.*

Ambiguity exists not only in the origins of how Azad Kashmir became a political and geographic entity. Perhaps by necessity of creation, it developed legal ambiguity over who is and isn't a government servant. The distinction between staff who are permanent and who are ad-hoc is such that, the former are at times in wonder as to whether they are bona-fide officials or the latter lurking in the shadows are. In the observation of one public sector official, "No-one knows how many staff are employed in the public sector, not even the Finance Minister's Secretary - who authorises payment of wages - has a clue!"

On the private front, extortionate and sub-standard quality of foodstuff from Pakistan has compelled many an aggrieved to consider investing in local agriculture. What hitherto had been considered as a vocation of a bygone era is rapidly coming into vogue.
The merits of plentiful and pristine water and air solidify the temptation.

In the dark days of a closed society, AJK rulers in their thrust to reclaim the Kashmir Valley, unashamedly and countlessly claimed that development will be such that other Kashmiris will wish to be like us!

The last local elections took place in 1991 and were abandoned in 1996. Thus, even if one were to assume there to be a genuine will amongst the 'powers that be' to nourish democracy, it's absence from it's roots at the local level is a clear indictment of their
intent. This has enhanced the local MLA's (Member of AJK Legislative Assembly) ability to reap benefit from a dysfunctional administrative structure, manipulating it according to their sweet will. Thus, along with holding the puppet strings of the Policeman and Patwari and far from legislating in the assembly (there being hardly any matter to legislate on with virtually all matters of governance dealt by a 'Kashmir Council' presided over by Pakistan's Prime Minister), they also control funds for rural development and local infrastructure.

Many people are unclear as to whether the last population Census took place in 1998 or 1999. For the record, the latter is the correct answer. Taking all the above into account and remembering that the current leislative assembly term (2006 - 2011) witnessed three different prime ministers, little room is left for doubting the forthcoming general election in June 2011, to be a malafide exercise to determine public will.

Just as New Delhi is deemed to have a collaborator coterie in Srinagar, so does Islamabad. With the current incumbent in the Prime Minister's chair, namely Sardar Attique, considered by many to be par excellence in that dubious respect. It is lamentable that to date, virtually all segments of nationalist, independent or progressive thinking have focused on India, Pakistan or the International Community rather than civil society in AJK, as their target for activism. Thus, giving Islamabad a clean sweep to deflate their aspirations for the re-unification of Kashmir. The majority of people here still fail to connect the dots between military control of governance and lack of freedom to develop transparent institutions, thereby disabling the possibility of positive political change that could reflect people's needs.

It is perhaps apt that one should observe the following poignant tale from across the line as something to ponder over till next week:
 "Sheikh Abdullah convened a Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ convention at Mujahid Manzil on October 12, 1968, and on June 8-13, 1970. Many a paper read in these proceedings advocated independence. Those from 'Azad Kashmir' who sent papers advocating independence were duly punished with imprisonment by Pakistan."**

Right To Information Act J&K - 2009
Prof. Manzoor Fazili’s compilation of the papers is very useful (Kashmir Predilection;     Gulshan Publishers, Srinagar, 1988)


The writer is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and can be mailed at

This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 8th of December 2010


I then received the following message:

Dear Mr. Tanveer Ahmed:

If you do not mind, I would like to include your article, "Identifying Azad Kashmir" in the December 11 issue of our daily bulletin "Kashmir News & Views." Its old issues can be accessed at 

Best wishes,
Pritam K. Rohila, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) &


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