Today was all about balancing the euphoria of yesterday's victory in public interest with estimating the challenges ahead in this modern day struggle for fundamental rights in AJK.
There is also a growing feeling within me that though I am able to capture a lot on video and much is discussed in terms of reporting and commentary on events through this medium, I am yet not adequately describing my daily activity in writing here. A lot is missed out on a daily basis and then the next day brings its own fresh tasks, leaving a lot of accumulated thoughts and explanations piling up offline.
Time creates combustion in sentiment which leads to activity like yesterday whereby the blood of a martyr (Naeem Butt) brought the whole district of Poonch to a standstill. He did not die fighting an army militarily but was shot for peacefully protesting the unabated killing of his co-citizens residing on the LOC; by Indian and Pakistan cross-fire. He lived 40 kilometres away from this 'Line of Blood' and was never directly affected. He was killed for protesting against the killing of others. An altruistic act, if ever there was one.
Here's a clip of our hero moments after being shot on the 16th of March:
Yesterday in Rawalakot, no-one got hurt, there was no clash between the police and public, almost all if not all shades of political opinion and affiliation were on one page and spoke with one voice. The closing of the market-place was purely voluntary and all this happened despite a neighbouring state's machinery conducting much intrigue to sabotage the possibility of such an event from happening. Like any public activity that doesn't blindly praise the 'benign efforts' of Pakistan for humanity, there was almost zero coverage of yesterday's event in mainstream Pakistani media.
The international media, academia and human rights organisations also pay scant attention to a standard of public discipline in the pursuit of basic rights - that compares favourably with other such examples, where large swathes of population are prevented from carrying out normal activity, which they - the public - voluntarily comply with.
Who do we take our case to?
We are living in a system of governance that has no legal or constitutional basis, is rather conducted according to 'informal arrangements' between the State of Pakistan and those who it pays wages to in AJK. This system has now been exposed and it doesn't know how to combat this public phenomenon that refuses to sell its soul while outsmarting state intrigue that seeks to divide public opinion.
We have no civil structure to communicate institutionally with the world. In other words, we do not exist in the comity of nations. This is despite having a diaspora in the developed democratic world amounting to over 1 million in population, most of whom reside in the United Kingdom. That very country that left us as a departing empire but with socio-political diseases that we are still trying to recover from.
UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group) operates here and has staff based in all major urban centres in AJK, however the most it can do is take a written memorandum/letter from you and pass it onto the Secretary-General's office in New York.
Here's my own personal experience from 2012 in Kotli - AJK
The UN has no formal framework for engaging with civil society in conflict zones, or at least not in the case of Jammu & Kashmir. The UN has a dedicated political department operating from its head office in New York. However, I have never received a reply to any correspondence with them. Needless to add, the UN Scertary-General's office never replies to any memorandums either, irrespective of whether they orignate from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir or Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Many countries that we have made contact with over the years, do engage with us privately but are always reluctant to develop any formal relationship, for fear or concern that their relationship with India and/or Pakistan may be adversely affected.
That leaves us with little civil or peaceful means to address our plight. No matter how extensive and representative our public opinion surveys are and no matter how much discipline we adopt in displaying our power to paralyse main roads and urban centres in AJK, we are still resigned to being ignored by the thinking world.
This is a bitter reflection of the geo-political composition of our world today in 2018.
However, our struggle continues. Here we show an example of art and song to lift our spirits in a camp (erected by Justice for Naeem Butt Shaheed Committee) that has now been running for 13 days next to the Deputy Commissioner's (DC) office in Rawalakot. It has been so many days since the DC has been absent and too scared to come to work.