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Thursday, 21 February 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 52 of 2019

1746hrs:

A dark overcast day ensured that I wouldn't leave home today.

I sent out the following question in some Whatsapp groups today:

Sponsoring War vs Sponsoring Peace
How has the public of AJK historically performed in this regard?

About 6 hours later, I'm yet to receive a meaningful response. Thus, I'll write a little commentary on it myself:

In the greater scheme of things since 1947, our public have sponsored war far more than they have sponsored peace.

The late 1980's and 1990's are a particular case in point. Our public in AJK as well as the diaspora - particularly in the UK where taxi drivers, restaurant/hotel owners, shopkeepers and the like regularly collected funds and sent them to AJK - to be passed onto the 'mujahideen' who were regularly crossing over to the Indian-controlled side of Jammu & Kashmir, to physically oust the Indian army. Relatively affluent locals here (in AJK) didn't shy from contributing regularly either.

Three major factors for this energetic fund-raising emerged:

1) The Pakistani State was backing this funding drive, thus logistics, publicity and the institutional structure in place here facilitated this process.

2) Our people have always tended to be attracted to the lure of major achievements in a short timeframe. For example, it was repeatedly propagandised on Pakistani State media that Indian military withdrawal was imminent.

3) It was easy to convince our gullible people using the emotion of religious identity, to back a Muslim effort to rid a coveted territory of Hindu rule. In a sense, it was 1947 re-enacted. Indeed, the Kashmiri Pandit community of the Valley suffered in a manner, that was worse than anything they had to endure in 1947. This time there was an exodus. Some blame can undoubtedly be attributed to Governor Jagmohan but if some of the local Muslims of the Kashmir Valley hadn't targetted the Kashmiri Pandits and if some Muslims hadn't made suggestive announcements on loudspeakers in various masaajid in the Valley, an exodus on the scale that occurred may have been averted.

The absence of these three factors in the pursuit of genuine peace means that any dedicated public rights activist has to bear a huge personal burden, just to survive - let alone succeed - in such an environment.

On my visit to the Valley of Kashmir in the summer of 2009, my host - the late Shujaat Bukhari - raised a valid question as to how I will fund the development of civil society in AJK. My response was that the very people who had so generously funded war and lived through the failure, should be able to understand the importance of funding peace.

However, my response didn't fully take into account the above three factors cited. As sponsoring peace requires the following opposing attributes to succeed:

1) We cannot canvass for the backing of other nation states (and certainly not Pakistan which has its own axe to grind) or even foreign NGOs, as some of our citizens are keen to do. Logistics, publicity, funding and all other aspects of building an indigenous political process have to be created by our very own citizens. Indeed, this is an explanation of self-determination, in our particular context.

2) There are no short cuts to conflict resolution. Our public has been repeatedly stung by short term tactics (of war and subterfuge) which ultimately makes our struggle more complex, requiring even greater amounts of peaceful lobbying to unlearn all the propaganda driven into us. Obtaining funding for something that is not immediately redeemable in an environment with such a history, is very hard work.

3) Sponsoring peace entails meticulous and painstaking research to cut out ambiguity of public opinion, counter false/self-serving propaganda, develop a modern structure of governance and  perhaps most important of all; repairing relations with our citizens who do not adhere to the majority religion in the region. In other words, taking a humane approach rather than trying to extract preferential treatment under majoritarian principles.

In summary, this is a battle to foreground the people's narrative against a securitisation narrative conveniently employed by our occupiers.

End of commentary...

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Meanwhile, I know our people (citizens of undivided J & K) can become buoyant whenever some significant Indian or Pakistani talks 'our' language but we almost always forget that all the 'footwork' required to create a solution remains our responsibility:




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