Friday 30 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 89 of 2018


This day transpired to be perhaps the most relaxing day of the month. A kind of lull before a possible storm....

Thursday 29 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 88 of 2018


A lot of travelling in the past few days......touching base in Dadyaal at the moment....before resuming travel again tomorrow......

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 86 of 2018


Today was a painful but pulsating day for public interest in my home tehsil of Sehnsa. So much happens on a daily basis and is increasingly being captured in photo, audio, video and text. Not just by me but an increasing number of citizens throughout AJK. So much information/data/content/analysis is generated by us all that it becomes difficult to decide what to include when uploading to social networks on almost a daily basis.

Earlier today in the House of Commons, London UK (The very parliament that created India, Pakistan and the Jammu & Kashmir Issue in 1947)

An exchange between politicians on either side of the house:

Photo of Afzal KhanAfzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

Last night I returned from Pakistan where I met the Prime Minister and the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Both shared their concern at the escalating violence at the line of control and at the killing of civilians. This is a nuclear flashpoint area. Does the Minister agree that we cannot leave it to Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute, because the stakes are too high and the Kashmiri have suffered for 70 years?

Photo of Mark FieldMark Field Minister of State

I was at the Pakistani national day celebrations at the weekend as well. I think the hon. Gentleman will understand that there are good reasons why it is the UK Government’s position, and has been in the 70 years since Pakistan and India were formed, that the Kashmir issue should be determined by those two countries. There is not a role for Britain to interfere or intervene. Ultimately, peace will only come when those two communities themselves can find their way to work that out. Clearly, it has to be an issue for the Kashmiri people.

I like the last sentence. I think that closely reflects the 'help-yourself' attitude of our understanding of self-determination, here in AJK.

Having said that, there is a whole lot the UK Government can do while earning prestige and honour in the process. I've always thought modern day Britain's various urban centres resemble pre-partition India much more in spirit, than anywhere in India or Pakistan today.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 84 of 2018


Blogging after 4 days means that this has been the leanest spell (of not blogging), since I made a concerted effort to blog daily on the first of January this year.

However, this is not due to any particular sloth on my part but rather the fact that the LOC - apart from presenting a clear opportunity of becoming a victim of Indian and Pakistani 'target practice' - is also deliberately deprived of communication services. That is where I've spent most of the past 4 days.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Monday 19 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 78 of 2018


There is so much to write about.........most notable perhaps is that the theme of the #WhiteFlags received a turbo-boost yesterday.

Raja Farooq Haider used strong language against it. The Pakistani State narrative, which the AJK 'Prime Minister' represents and is on oath to defend: is alarmed and rattled by the 'White Flag March' on this side of the LOC.


Meanwhile, here's a little speech from the 16th of March....This date will be debated intelligently for a long time to come.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 77 of 2018


When I woke up today.....about an hour ago (after another marathon 48 hour visit to Bratla and then to Kotli and Phagwari before returning to Dadyaal), this was the first item in my inbox. I feel shattered from both sides, the Indians and Pakistanis are waging war in our territory - not against each other but against our civilians. This video could've been images and cries from any side of the LOC, we wouldn't be able to distinguish if we didn't have captions:

Friday 16 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 75 of 2018


A phenomenal day...........I was already committed to this date in the a seminar in Bratla (District Kotli) on 'The Treaty of Amritsar' which took place on this day 172 years ago.

Meanwhile, I missed out on this significant event below....

Thursday 15 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 74 of 2018


AJK on a knife-edge - just like the timing of this blog..almost.

Peaceful assembly in Districts Kotli and Poonch in preparation for a #WhiteFlag March from Tattapani (Kotli) to Madarpur (Poonch) tomorrow along the LOC - organised by the leading #JKLF group in AJK - has put the Pakistani narrative into a spin.

The local district administration in Kotli was made to work hard today to try and disperse the converging activists from various parts of AJK and Pakistan.

A separate 'putsch' of sorts was attempted by the local administration in Nikyaal where a White Flag and Signature Campaign by local activists and affectees of Indian and Pakistani cross-firing; has been gathering pace over the past few weeks.

The stakes are probably higher than ever before given the interconnected world we live in. Peaceful initiatives by the citizens and inheritors of the territory (and the Indo-Pak conflict): when obstructed in 2018 take seconds to reach London, New York, Geneve and other capitals of the world.

The moral argument within the Pakistani narrative that the public in Pakistani-controlled parts of the State of Jammu & Kashmir are satisfied with Pakistan's steering of their future, whilst in Indian-controlled territory the public are in revolt, is no longer arguable.

The fact that India and Pakistan agree on far more than they disagree on, always becomes apparent whenever the public in any part of the un-divided Jammu & Kashmir take pro-active measures for peace.

The 16th of March does have a history....fiercely contested within internal public discourse in AJK but tomorrow could shed light on what shape the future of this region may take. 

Note: The dashed grey lines on the East side of both maps above indicate the LOC or Ceasefire Line as some continue to describe it.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 73 of 2018


From an early start..............most of the rest of the day was spent in downtime.........I wanted to visit Kotli and Nikyaal today.

To investigate a threat by the Deputy Commissioner (DC Kotli) of 'harsh action' if a persistent #WhiteFlag and #SignatureForPeace campaign in Nikyaal, conducted by victims and co-citizens of the LOC were not to be abandoned.

"Pakistan's reputation in the 'international order' is at stake" is the carrot end of the stick as far as creative and peaceful protest anywhere in #AJK is concerned.

We - the persistent victims - are not allowed to create agency for resolving the very tragedy imposed on us..

This is akin to being prevented from mourning our dead. DC Kotli is only acting as a pliable messenger. Don't target him - as a citizen - he is a part of the solution, not the problem.

It all begins and ends with the dominant narrative in the public domain. If the Pakistani State's national narrative gets upset by peaceful messages to the international community - including India and Pakistan - from AJK, then the Pakistani State has no moral ground to impose its presence here.

A lot of us speak about de-militarisation as a first step towards a durable peace (and solution). Indeed, some of us even give 'brazen' speeches in public space throughout AJK from time to time, to this effect.

How many of us have methodically thought it through and weighed it against what is practically possible?

A data (collection) public agency has been through this thought process and utilised a measure-able amount of collective public wisdom to give practical shape to an Ownership-Building-Measure (OBM).

In order to proceed, this agency now only lacks two (2) steps before being able to carry out its first measure of de-militarisation in AJK:

1) A consensus amongst the 1,000 most influential citizens of AJK (proportional according to population of each tehsil and excluding serving MLA's), followed by a consensus amongst the 29 MLA's directly elected from constituencies in AJK.

2) The creation of a security agency (or merging into data agency) to secure the space vacated by de-militarisation.

I couldn't leave home today, never mind visit Kotli or Nikyaal. The reasons should be obvious to my co-citizens.

I shall abide by the principle: "Neki kar - Sila na Mang"

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 72 of 2018


I'm still awake. Trying to organise content in public interest. It's a slow process, not just in terms of net speed but also in terms of computing power. I could write a long list of technology and tools that I need but......

Here's the latest upload courtesy of Jammu Kashmir TV on Facebook:

This video relates to Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's Camel and Donkeys' March from Bhimber to Muzaffarabad on Day 12 (corresponding to Saturday the 10th of March or Day 69 of this blog). Here he proceeds beyond Mirpur District into Kotli District at Plaak:

I eventually fell asleep at 7am (0700hrs) and got up just before 11am (1100hrs).

Uploading videos continues on my Youtube channel:

This video was taken after 10pm (2200hrs) on the 8th of March:

The clips below were taken earlier in the evening that day (8th of March):

Reverting back to Jammu Kashmir TV on facebook for videos even earlier that day (8th of March)

Here's a scene from Hajeera Subdivision (Tehsil) Courts:

From the Courts we made our way towards the 'border' crossing-point in Poonch:

Monday 12 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 71 of 2018


A good deal of rest was due. Today's target was finding 2,050 PK Rupees (about £13.33 in British pounds) from the public to renew my monthly internet service. Task accomplished by about 9pm (2100hrs).

I also enjoyed a good walk today, which was necessary after over a day of rest. The pace will get more intense as Spring marches on.

Here are a couple of links to some of the many videos made in the past few days.

Courtesy: Jammu Kashmir TV on Facebook

This is step 3 of the White Flag March towards a ceasefire in Hajeera/Poonch Sector of the LOC on the 8th of March:

This was step 1 and 2 of the White Flag March towards a ceasefire in Khuiratta/Kotli Sector of the LOC earlier on the 6th of March:

Saturday 10 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 69 of 2018


Almost 13 days of being out in the field from Bhimber to Hajeera and I'm exhausted.

There are so many questions in my mind...

What do I share on the internet? Text, Audio, Photo or Video? With who? On what platform? In what language? What is the right balance of information? 

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 65 of 2018


LOC tension creates combustion in public interest from Hajeera to Khuiratta.

#Whiteheadsheets #Whiteflags in #AJK

Blood is spilled between the local administration and civil society in Hajeera while a war of attrition between civil society and the Pakistani Army resumes in Khuiratta to assert peace in AJK - in particular - and Jammu & Kashmir - in general.

All in a day. The busiest of 2018 yet.

Monday 5 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 64 of 2018


The LOC makes me feel more alive than anywhere else in AJK. So much work ahead tomorrow.

Only problem apart from the blood soaked soil is the apalling net service.

Wrote this on Whatsapp a while ago:

Liason with civil society on LOC/LOB/CFL in Khuiratta Sector. Marvellous spirit despite confronting tragedy on a daily basis...a mature approach developing towards Indian and Pakistani cross-fire..will be making a public statement via local media tomorrow as our visit continues....

Sunday 4 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 63 of 2018


Still leaving it late. No excuse but work has been awfully hectic of late. Transforming from homely slumber to hyper-active field work at age 45 is not as easy as it used to be. Paying attention to one's health while dealing with a schedule which can be even more unpredictable than the British weather, while co-ordinating various activities and recording events can reach atrocious levels at times.

Being an activist, a researcher and a juggler of time means processing a lot of information, communicating with a lot of people and constantly making choices. Inevitably, so much piles up that it would take an increasing amount of manpower and computer power to make all work visible and useful in public interest.

Meanwhile, here's a facebook embed to some photos clicked by our colleagues:

Friday 2 March 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 61 of 2018

2336hrs: (of Day 60)

I missed the midnight deadline by seconds, literally. Day 60's blog had to be amended to Day 61.

Yesterday, on day 2 of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's Camel and Donkey's March from Bhimber to Muzaffarabad, he was halted at about 1600hrs (4pm), ostensibly by the district administration of AJK. Senior Minister in the AJK Government and local MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) Tariq Farooq expressed an intention to discuss the 32 public issues at hand. Mahmood was escorted to Mr Farooq's residence in Bhimber city, while members of the public tended to his animals at Jabbi where he had been stopped.

Meanwhile, I had initially intended to spend just the opening day on February the 27th with Mahmood Sahab. We camped at Chappran, about 15 kilometres north of Bhimber. On the morning of day 2, I bid farewell with an intention to join him once again for a day, when he would arrive at Chakswari.

Recently, I've been trying to focus on completing the 2nd version of Citizen Public Opinion Survey - AJK which would extend version 1 from 20 pages to 250. Thereupon, I would be keen to get this extended version published in an academic journal somewhere in the 'developed' world.

That is not possible at the moment as Mr. Musafir suggested that I return and engage in the aforementioned discussion with Senior Minister Tariq Farooq. At the end of an intense but incomplete debate, the minister suggested that we adjourn until the following day. We returned to Jabbi - located at the district border between Bhimber and Mirpur despite the AJK administration suggesting that they accomodate us in the State Resthouse.

Mahmood Ahmed Musafir spent Day 3 stationed at Jabbi while waiting for the Minister's call. It didn't happen.

I have suggested to Mahmood Sahab that we should proceed with the 'Camel and Donkey March' tomorrow morning and head towards Chechian. What is in the minds of the AJK Government and/or the shadows that monitor them is anybody's guess. Alibeg Police Station has had its staff stationed and camped alongside Mahmood and his animals since the initial encounter on Day 2. Today will be Day 4 of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir's journey from Bhimber to Muzaffarabad. 

Here are a series of photos as the evening progressed at Jabbi on Day 3 of Mahmood Sahab's march (which correspond to Day 60 of this year)

The following are photos of Day 4 of Mahmood Sahab's March (Day 61 of this year) as it progressed through the day, until its fabulous climax when Mahmood, his animals and dozens of citizens negotiated him beyond District Bhimber into District Mirpur in the evening.

Now, here are some video links embedded courtesy of Jammu Kashmir TV on Facebook:

Clip 1 of 4

Clip 2 of 4

Clip 3 of 4

Clip 4 of 4

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 140 of 2024

2320hrs: Our 7 political prisoners in Mangla are on my mind foremost. It could be criminal if I return to Sehnsa without securing their rele...