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Saturday, 2 March 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 61 of 2019

0246hrs: Update from Sialkot (Pakistan) and adjacent to Jammu province of J & K, on the working boundary
- Heavy exchange of fire here too.
- According to AJK Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas, 8 people have been killed and 20 injured along the LOC in AJK.

0300hrs: From Kotli
DHQ (District Headquarters Hospital) Kotli is appealing for blood donors.

0352hrs: From Bhimber Sector
Locals are hearing sounds of heavy fire, such that they've never heard before.
- Meanwhile, it appears that there is an unusual lapse in media coverage tonight, which can easily be described as the heaviest round of fighting since the current version of this un-necessary conflict began.

0457hrs: From Kotli Sector
Heavy shelling continues in tehsil Nikyaal and Tattapani. Civilian casualties are being brought to DHQ Kotli.

0700hrs: From Poonch Sector
It is reported that 300 people comprising of 60 households have left their homes in Mankote.
- It is reported that the Pakistani army checkpost in Battal is preventing locals from leaving the area. Apparently, they had been given an opportunity to leave earlier but - according to the Pakistani army - now they had to stay put.

0700hrs: From Kotli Sector
Whilst firing has been almost continuous throught the night from the working boundary (in Jammu) to Kel in Neelam, it appeared most damaging in Kotli. 

1200hrs: From Kotli Sector
O (-) negative blood group is urgently sought at DHQ Kotli
Contact:  Sardar Osama - 03450502806 / Azhar Choudhary - 03401541040

1251hrs: From Muzaffarabad
According to DC Badar Munir, 58 individuals  (mostly women and children) have arrived from areas around the LOC near Chakothi. They are staying with their relatives but the AJK administration is providing them mattresses and other necessary items, we are led to understand.

1400hrs: From Hattian Bala
Temporary camps have been erected at the AJK University campus here to accomodate those fleeing from the Line of Control. An eye-witness of the camps explains that 360 people have been adjusted in 3 classrooms. They consist of women and children but each sack-like blanket provided has to be shared between 6 people. The AJK administration explains that it is short of funds (isn't that forever the refrain?).

1655hrs: Back to base in Dadyaal

So, it has taken me many hours of combing through data over the past couple of days, to establish a set of events that give us some idea of the damage done to us, as opposed to the damage India and Pakistan inflict on each other in our territory. Despite that, we still lack detail and accuracy.

Role of Civil Society in AJK:

We have discussed data collection of casualties by local correspondents in each tehsil (subdivision) adjoining the LOC, on a number of occasions.

However, as our people have been trained to be reactive rather than proactive over the decades - if not centuries - we are always more likely to witness ad hoc behaviour rather than a consistent institution-building process here.

For the sake of posterity (once again), here's a proposed structure:

- There should be at least one correspondent in each tehsil adjoining the LOC. Of the 32 tehsils, half of them (16) can count in this description:

From north to south:
1) Sharda
2) Athmaqam
(both in district Neelam)
3) Leepa
4) Hattian
(both in district Hattian Bala)
5) Bagh (in the district of the same name)
6) Haveli
7) Khursheedabad
8) Mumtazabad
(all 3 in district Haveli)
9) Abbaspur
10) Hajeera
(both in district Poonch)
11) Kotli
12) Nikyaal
13) Khuiratta
14) Charoi
(all 4 in district Kotli)
15) Smaahni
16) Barnaala
(both in district Bhimber)

Important details to collect by correspondents:

1) Name:
2) Father's name:
3) Address:
4) Gender:
5) Age:

For anybody affected by LOC cross-firing leading to:
i) Death
ii) Injuries (description if possible)
iii) Displaced - At least detail of head of family and number of individuals
iv) Damages - property, livestock etc. 

If we - as civil society in AJK - were to accurately collect such details within 24 hours, it would assist us in making our own government accountable and by extension India and Pakistan.

Role of the AJK Government:

Whenever such an emergency situation arises, the AJK government never seems to have any contingency in place. Zero planning and preparation are always apparent.

Those who fall ill are always handed prescriptions rather than medicine. The government of AJK begins urging its own citizens to appeal to the world for help. Various NGOs are contacted too, in an effort to shift the responsibilities that local politicians are mandated for.

All this in a territory that is abundant with naural resources but where the government - in normalcy - makes a point of avoiding issues of governance, research, planning, merit and accountability.

In such emergency conditions, the public is more or less expected to fend for itself in all matters. Protection from Indo-Pak crossfire (in 72 years of an intermittent conflict, there are still barely any bunkers of note in the whole of AJK), livelihood, food, shelter, transport, medical treatment etc. etc.

Some of our people, when escaping from war have to travel by foot while carrying their infants and elderly on their shoulders. Sometimes, during the middle of the night where it might take them hours to reach the nearest urban centre.

In such conditions, many people don't even bother approaching the government because they are convinced that the latter won't do anything for them anyway.

Many of these areas near the LOC in AJK have very little or no means of electronic communication in normalcy. In wartime - such as now - even that is invariably blocked. At times without notice. for example, while the person is making a frantic emergency call to relatives to help.

The role of the UN, which is obviously the largest humanitarian organisation in the world, is also minimal in this region and remains confined to UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan), which in itself has a very narrow set of duties that limit them from interaction with locals.

...

Having said all that, it appears that the AJK government has put in some effort to document our losses and their 'intent' on mitigating them:

Page 1 of 2

Page 2 of 2
It was also on this day, that Mahmood Ahmed Musafir returned to AJK, after spending over a year on the road in public interest:

Sitting amongst his co-citzens in Dadyaal 

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