Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 50 of 2019


Writing in real time on sensitive topics as they affect us in this externally contested territory - while avoiding the trap of falling into line with an Indian or Pakistani narrative - requires a real balancing act at times. A sound argument by an Indian of a Pakistani crime or vice versa doesn't immunise any of them from responsibility for this conflict. 

Extending that point further, that also means that sound arguments put forward by the 'native' inheritors of the old princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, against one or both occupiers doesn't immunise our political leaders or even us either. 

Ultimately, the responsibility to initiate and sustain the path to peace lies with us on the ground, not any of the aforementioned. We may attain a sense of solace by criticising them but that is only one step in a series of steps that resemble climbing a rocky mountain. 

We've spent 71 years on what can loosely be described as a political struggle. Agitational or resistance politics to be more precise. As intimated in an earlier post, that is far from enough. Even that cannot be sustained on a day to day basis and neither can resistance politics mobilise the masses to the extent of foregoing their day to day needs on a prolonged basis.

The quest for deliverance cannot be prioritised over health, nutrition, education or even employment or leisure. 

The Indians understand that and that's why they employ over (reportedly) 350,000 citizens in government service from a population of roughly 12.5 million in that part of J & K. If the figures are correct, that would amount to a staggering 2.8% of the population in government service. This facility is undoubtedly quid pro quo for the occupation and the major beneficiaries are the citizens of the Valley, at the expense of Jammu & Ladakh it could be argued.

The figures in AJK could be roughly estimated at 100,00 government servants from a population of c. 5 million. In percentage terms that would be a no less staggering 2%, especially given Pakistan's use of religious emotion to elicit voluntary support almost at will.

Figures for Gilgit Baltistan (GB) can roughly be extrapolated as about 40,000 government servants from a poulation of c.1.9 million. That in percentage terms would be about 2.1%.

Given that between 30% to 50% of the population on either side of the LOC is under the age of 16 and that most adult women are not made eligible for work, the figures are even more mind-boggling if compared to most of the rest of the world. 

Resisting such a structure with carrots dangling such as described above or alternatively facing the stick of the occupiers for resisting such a trap, makes genuine activism on the ground difficult to mobilise en masse.

I can't speak for the Valley but in AJK the rest of the population, not usually engaged in resistance but desirous of independence, are reluctant to initiate fund-giving for public interest. What they do give is pro-actively canvassed by activists and more often than not, is usually given to fund political rallies, processions, speeches and publicity.

Given the above, there is little time, effort/intellect or finance devoted to the 3 other aspects of struggle needed for change. Namely:

(1 being political as discussed already)
2) Research
3) Economy
4) Culture

That also means, choreographing genuine change internally is the rockiest of mountains to climb.

Finance to sustain the occupation must be countered by finance to end the occupation. Obviously not at the same level but enough to sustain a well-thought out day to day struggle covering all four aspects.

Even today, when change in society is discussed (or freedom from the occupier/s for that matter), most people picturise a charismatic leader with a political party formation active in all corners of society. 

The world has moved on and the demands of the modern age compounded by double occupational structures, means we have to think a lot differently.

Within a few months of arriving here in 2005, I was certain that a lot of thinking had to be different.

That was in the context of what I learned from the India-Pakistan relationship during the relatively harmonious Musharraf era.

Hence, my introductory logo at the time:

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Daily Diary (DD) - Day 193 of 2020

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