Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 57 of 2019


I woke up today to learn that there had been some war activity over the territory of AJK. In fact, Indian fighter jets had flown over AJK and bombed what they described as, "JeM militant camps" where they claimed - according to Indian media reports - to have killed over 300 militants, in the Pakistani territory of Balakot (in KPK) at about 0300hrs, barely a few kilometres from AJK's border with Pakistan.

Now, about 12 hours later the propaganda war between the 2 countries is in full swing, obfuscation and delerium in equal measure. We, the inhabitants of J & K don't exist, irrespective of whether there is peace or war on the horizon.

Update 1908hrs: From Kotli
DHQ Hospital takes emergency measures to take in injured from heavy shelling in Charoi, Khuiratta and Nikyaal tehsils (sub-divisions)

Update 1924hrs: From Smaahni
Receiving reports of heavy cross-shelling and firing in Bhimber Sector too

Well, at least the Valley of Kashmir is quite today. Is there a correlation?

Update 1946hrs: From Khuiratta
Pakistani firing...more than the Indians...from Darghuti....heavy fire....since 1500hrs......4 injured civilians in Khanpur ambulanced to Kotli.....Karghut - 8 to 10 ambulances dispatched to PK army....


Update 1931hrs:

Here's a perspective courtesy of Twitter:


Update 2010hrs:
1 of the 4 injured succumbed to her injuries

Shanaz Siddique w/o Raja Muhammad Siddique - female

Adnan s/o Muhammad Aslam - male
? Kausar d/o Muhammad Karamat - female
Sumehra d/o Muhammad Aslam - female

Update 2013hrs: From Nikyaal
Mohra Dhruti....Malik Umar Hayat House...
- 3 of this already deceased gentleman's family members have now been killed in this fresh Indo-Pak confrontation along the LOC..
- A further 3 members of the late Umar Hayat have been injured.

Motiyan Begum w/o Umar Hayat - 40 years - female
Zarina d/o Umar Hayat - 15 years - female
Gulfraz s/o Umar Hayat - 9 years - male

Umar Farooq s/o Umar Hayat - 17 years - male
Sarfaraz s/o Umar Hayat - 12 years - male
Sagheer s/o Umar Hayat - 10 years - male

Update 2117hrs: From Hattian - Jhelum Valley (Muzaffarabad Division)
All hospitals in the district have been put on high alert.

Also plenty of aerial movement reported from all 3 divisions of AJK

Update 2210hrs:

I sent out the following audio message in English:

Update 2316hrs: From Kotli
Reports of activity in Tattapani and further north along the Poonch Sector

Update 2331hrs: Working Boundary (The area of Jammu & Kashmir controlled by India opposite Pakistani Punjab - Sialkot, Narowal, Shakergarh etc.)
Reports of tank build-up here

Here's some footage on the ground in Tattapani, Nikyaal and Khuiratta:

Coming back to the ground where this territorial conflict really matters, here's a scene from Gilgit Baltistan:


In an effort to remain sober about this needless and expensive conflict thrust upon us, I became engaged with the following question on the 19th of February:

So here's my engagement:

I'm pretty impressed with the structure of this website and the promptness equalled by thoroughness of the administrators. Only I wish I could embed the conversation here.

Initially, on February the 19th I submitted all 3 primary reasons for why Kashmir should be independent.

I'm using the term 'Kashmir' in the most easily understood modern political sense. That is Kashmir as short-hand for the whole erstwhile princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, whose measurement equals roughly 86,000 square miles. Roughly because varying figures are quoted by writers across the geo-political spectrum. This territory can most easily be divided into seven (7) distinct regions, for the dual purpose of understanding its possibly divergent/convergent internal narratives and 72 year administrative history.

1) AJK = 6% of land and 20% population of J & K under Pakistani control
2) Aksai Chin = 14% of land and 0% population under Chinese control
3) Gilgit Baltistan = 29% of land and 9% population under Pakistani control
4) Jammu = 12% of land and 30% population under Indian control
5) Kashmir (Valley) = 8% of land and 39% population under Indian control
6) Ladakh = 28% of land and 2% population under Indian control
7) Trans-Karakoram Tract = 3% of land and 0% population under Chinese control

Further notes:
- One had to extrapolate percentages (using round figures) from a lot of different sources, none of which tally. Therefore Ladakh's land may actually be more of a percentage than quoted and the Kashmir Valley less than quoted.
- Siachen Glacier is a part of Baltistan but is directly controlled by India and Pakistan respectively without any internal State-level administrative link.

Now, let's return to the question: Should Kashmir Be An Independent State?

My 3 primary reasons have each been submitted separately after discussion with the admin at .

1) A neutral confederation of States replacing the old princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, will bring stability and advance economic progress in Asia, much like Switzerland did in Europe.

2) An independent Kashmir will greatly enhance water management technology in the region because its survival will depend on efficient supply of that water to the thirsty plains of India and Pakistan thus averting future wars over water.

3) Geographically, this region is at the intersection of diverse civilisations, harmony here could avert ideological wars elsewhere.
Human rights and religion in Kashmir

These were the threads leading up to the engagement:

Kialo 20/02/19:
Hi @AJK_Public_Agency, thanks for some amazing ideas! It occurs to me that there are a few separate ideas here, each of which might be worth developing as a separate claim? You could maybe create a separate claim to talk about efficient water use, and another to talk about promoting ideological harmony? The water claim might fit well into existing threads about Kashmir's strategic resources and rivers (here: Kashmir is extremely important to Pakistan as the source of its major rivers).

I'm afraid I don't quite understand the first idea you introduce though - why exactly would an independent Kashmir help promote stability and economic progress? And why is it like Switzerland?

Thanks again for contributing!

My response to Kialo 25/02/19:
As for your question(s): "why exactly would an independent Kashmir help promote stability and
economic progress? And why is it like Switzerland?" The answer to both parts of the question are intertwined.

This is Asia's century as forecasts go but is riddled with conflict in key areas such as Kashmir, which links to many of the old silk routes. Take a look at an economic map of Asia a thousand years ago. For India & Pakistan as well as China and Russia many criss-crossing routes for un-explored or under-utilised markets in the modern age, pass through this territory.

Our neutrality could change the political economy of the region (from conflict based on proprietary claims on neighbouring territories, where religious identity is used as a majoritarian weapon to compete on 'securitisation': to a people's narrative driven economy where citizens, as default arbiters of their inherited territory - are desperate to make their lives useful and ther democratic opinion valuable - opening routes would be fundamental to this turn-around) and there is some correlation between Swiss neutrality and European progress.

Furthermore; geography, topography, ethnic diversity, flows of major rivers into other neighbouring territories are all 'closer to nature' similarities with Switzerland while direct democracy, confederacy and neutrality are all favourable precedents for Kashmir (or the whole erstwhile princely State) to adopt.

We can take this discussion deep into history and use various analogies when comparing it to Switzerland, which announced neutrality in 1515. This stance gradually help fend off competing regional empires. Despite Switzerland's ethnic diversity, languages and proximity to larger powers it held together through sheer will of the people there, who were adamant on a distinct identity. All these traits are visible - if seemingly un-refined - here.

I am not the only one making this proposition or coming to such a suggestion for conflict resolution. Despite arriving at my conclusions through independent research on the ground here since 2005, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that an American journalist who covered this region extensively in the volatile 1990s, had made a similar assessment. Here's a link to her presentation at: The Hague in 1999

End of response......

@AJK_Public_Agency That's fascinating! Thanks so much.

Then, further elaboration was needed on primary reason number 3, namely:
 3) Geographically, this region is at the intersection of diverse civilisations, harmony here could avert ideological wars elsewhere.
Human rights and religion in Kashmir

Kialo 28/02/19 (Updated):
@AJK_Public_Agency This is an interesting idea - but I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "intersection of diverse civilizations" are you meaning in a religious sense?  As India and Pakistan were only partitioned in 1947 it seems unclear to me what you mean by this?

My response to Kialo 01/03/19 (Updated):
Well, if we were to account for just South Asia (including India & Pakistan) then yes the religious divide does appear prominent vis a vis Hindu and Muslim. However, a 360 degree view of the geography around Jammu & Kashmir would indicate historic exposure to diverse cultures/religions/languages/races etc. such as Central Asia (including Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey) as well as China.

Let me illustrate further:

Thus:  There are many religions, in or surrounding the State of Jammu & Kashmir -
Buddhist, Confucianist, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Taoist with many varieties of Muslim including further biblical connections with Christian and Jewish links...the 'Throne of Soloman' in Srinagar for example.

Many races:
Caucasoid. Mongoloid and Australoid
- If we adopt mid 20th century racial classification by American anthropologist Carleton S. Coon, who divided humanity broadly into five races. This would mean we host 3 of 5 globally.

Many ethnicities:
111 have been studied in just the Indian-controlled part of Jammu & Kashmir by the anthropolical survey of India.

Many languages:
Pahari (with variants such as Gojri, Dogri and Hindko), Kashmiri, Punjabi, Balti, Sheena, Ladhaki, Burushaski, Wakhi, Khowar and Bhaderwahi.
Officially English, Hindi and Urdu with heavy remnants of Persian still in use.

Many Cultures:
Influences within the wider geographic region as well as beyond are clearly visible in the major expressions of dress, food and living environment. It could be argued that the Kashmir Valley itself is most syncretic because it happens to be virtually in the geographic centre of this wider network of old silk routes or the wider State of Jammu & Kashmir, in its modern context. 

This region has also been at the cross-roads of many colonial/expansionist influences/tendencies throughout history.

End of response....

Kialo 03/03/19 (Updated):
@AJK_Public_Agency That is really interesting!  I didn't know many of those things. I'm just trying to think how we could incorporate some of that into the claim. I think we would also need to explain how this would avert ideological wars elsewhere - as i'm not sure how these diverse language and cultural backgrounds manifest themselves other than the conflict between India, Pakistan, China etc over Kashmir?

My response:
Well, this is where all 3 primary pros entered for this argument rely on each other to make an independent Kashmir practical.

Yes, that can be pondered over as to what can be added further to the argument.

Well, as the region is on the periphery of these contesting/colluding powers it cannot be central or even integral to how those countries function. All 3 are using expansionist - as opposed to genuine democratic - tools to expand the 'idea' of their respective national identities. This disenfranchisement means the onus is on us to prove our neutral geo-political tendencies (pro 1), water management technological capability (pro 2) and the will to distinguish our national identity in a diverse polity with divergent temptations (pro 3). The latter argument gives us a precedent in Switzerland (Please refer to my explanation for pro 1). We can use our history to reference quasi democratic traditions in autocracy, through the lineage of Kings ref. Prem Nath Bazaz (1954) The History of Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir: Cultural and Political, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Kashmir Publishing Company. We also have a rich heritage of knowledge at Sharda, which some even describe as the oldest university in the world.

In short, our needs can take some inspiration from our heritage and parallel(s) to Switzerland to refrain from colluding with our neighbours, who are using ideology and or religious identity to attach us as a periphery to their respective centres. A neutral Kashmir would help our neighbours divert their energies elsewhere. Hopefully, away from conflict. This could have a positive spin-off elsewhere too.

End of response...

Kialo 04/03/19 (Updated):
@AJK_Public_Agency It seems to me that the key idea here is "A neutral Kashmir would help our neighbours divert their energies elsewhere. Hopefully, away from conflict. This could have a positive spin-off elsewhere too". Do you have some sources that might be able to back up this idea?

My response 05/03/19 (Updated):
Well, sources related to neutrality and Switzerland provide precedent, as already cited. Admittedly, it is difficult to be counter-factual here.

If such a diverse a region as J & K with potentially deep ethnic faultlines succeeds as a distinct polity, it would not only compel India and Pakistan to concentrate on alternative matters more central to their existence (education, health and employment of their deprived masses for example) but other regions of the world which usually get trapped in conflict based on religious, sectarian or other ethnic considerations could also possibly adjust their priorities likewise.

In Kashmir, we have enough of a diverse heritage to build on, which cannot happen when 3 neighbours are competing for our land, minus the people.

In terms of re-phrasing the argument, I would suggest the following although I appreciate that it may need further refining or substantiation:

Geographically, this region is at the intersection of diverse civilisations, utilising the rich and  diverse (spiritual and knowledge-based) heritage of this region could help convert the ideological expansionism of our neighbours into a more effective pro-life approach towards their own citizens. Becoming a venue for refined civil interaction that replaces military confrontation would also be an inspiration for other regions mired in identity-based conflict.

End of response....

Kialo 06/03/19 (Updated):
@AJK_Public_Agency I think that we are getting closer - can i suggest wording "Geographically, this region is at the intersection of diverse civilsations, utilising the diverse heritage of this region could help divert the ideological expansionism of its neighbours."  Then we could have separate claims beneath that to prove that it is a diverse (spiritual and knowledge based  region and also some claims about why this would divert Indian and Pakistani attentions to their own citizens?

I think the point about "becoming a venue for refined civil interaction..." is a completely separate point.  The only issue I have is that i'm not sure what the arguments for saying that India and Pakistan would become more interested in their approach to their own citizens would be.  I know you have the example of Switzerland but I think thats quite different because Switzerland had a long history of neutrality and I think is in a quite distinct position from Kashmir in that it has never been a disputed territory.  So i think in order to argue this we would need to provide more support than just "see it works in Switzerland".

My response 07/03/19 (Updated):
Yes, I appreciate you putting so much time and thought to this. I am thoroughly enjoying the exchange too. I think the way you have phrased it seems fine and I take along your point of adding the various arguments beneath it. As for India and Pakistan then becoming more interested in their approach to their own citizens, I think that would be inevitable given the huge military resources in use and ideological warfare both countries have been engaged in to gain the upper-hand against each other.

Both have also been very poor in water management despite sharing the water sources emanating from Kashmir. A lot of features of governance that 'normal' countries proceed with have been ignored by both countries over the past 72 years. The constant threat of war and publicity regarding it does sap one's energies. Indeed, both countries have much to benefit from trading with each other, which has been heavily restricted since 1947.

As for Switzerland, there is definitely a huge time lag and difference in political evolution between it and Kashmir. Switzerland was a disputed territory and that's why it declared neutrality in 1515. However, I do agree that any similarities between the 2 need to be qualified. I think my point is rather more eloquently described by Kathy Arlyn Sokol in the reference I gave for pro 1. Here's the link again.


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Daily Diary (DD) - Day 52 of 2020

1414hrs: For how long do we put up with this facade? ........