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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 243 of 2019

0210hrs:

Google is commemorating Amrita Pritam's 100th birthday today with the following image on its search page:


She lived through the gut wrenching partition of her land in 1947 and is remembered on both sides of the Punjab, not least for how she transformed her emotions into prose.

Her writing maintains an influence on us too.

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The subject of partition will always weave into the following discourse, almost as if it's a bridge:




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Friday, 30 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 242 of 2019

2311hrs:

The Jammu Narrative:


The road to Kashmir's deliverance from centuries of conquest has to pass through an intersection between the divided parts of Jammu.


Tanveer Ahmed



Cover of 'An Examined Life'

We have lived a dream for 14 years, that has had many nightmares in between. 

We learned to float with nature and mankind on our side. Humanity became our measuring tool for all activity. If we faltered as individuals, our mission for Azaadi (freedom) would have faltered too.

Power without responsibility is what we acutely suffer from in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. A country and nation State with structure, institutions, measurable history & geography and a free people, even a defined political entity according to the constitutions of India and Pakistan. 

That is on paper. In theory. Academic. De jure.

In reality, our land is a fierce contest between two armies over water and geography. They have both used religious identity in a calculated way. This de facto status has over-ruled any possibility of humanity flourishing here. 

Nevertheless we persisted in peacefully, legally and creatively contesting this inhumane structure by digging deep.  

A series of minor victories in public interest accumulated over the years and with time various levers of the internal power structure in AJK obliged to consolidate our stance. Our momentum has brought us to a moment where all the world's governments seem to be on one side and Iran on the other - standing in solidarity with us unlike Pakistan who does so with the purpose of claiming the territory for itself - the Iranians reminding the world of our right to self determination, in a resolution tabled in their parliament 9 days ago (22nd of August). 

Yes, Iran has its own fair share of relationship issues with many other nation States but our neutral aspirations a la Switzerland ensure that we do not favour Iran over Saudi Arabia, China over the USA or even Pakistan over India. Or vice versa or any other combination thereof.

With that scenario at one end of the spectrum (international order and regional order), the other end is global civil society; whose currency is human rights, democracy, constitutionalism, minority rights and anti-majoritarianism, civilisation-culture-health-education-tourism, water management, climate change and many other human endeavours. None of which have been given due consideration to since 1947. 

The economy of war in the past 72 years froze much of the public's conscience in its stride and thus, developing an internal political process in such circumstances was a difficult task, to say the least.

In such an environment, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of personal interest at the cost of public interest.


It almost seems as if the whole world is ready to buy us out!


Transparency assisted by communications technology can turn the tide in our favour though, regardless.


We need to maintain a relationship with global civil society based on activism that is universal in appeal, democratic in approach and constitutional in structure. 


It is difficult to speculate about the future. The internal or independent narrative in AJK has been strong for decades but we have suffered and struggled because it is almost impossible to sell peace in a war economy. Now that the floor is wide open after the BJP's seemingly unilateral move on August the 5th...anything is possible. If the Indian State genuinely wishes for no trouble from Pakistan in J & K, it has to assess the merit of J & K's own internal narrative to transform from a war economy to one dictated by peace.

As long as we endure an India vs Pakistan narrative, we cannot break this vicious cycle. That is essentially a war narrative. A peace narrative is something else all together.


We should feel the pain of the Kashmiri Pandit, the Jammu Dogra, the Buddhist in Ladakh, the Ismaili and Noorbakshi in GB as much as we feel the pain of Sunni Muslims in the Kashmir Valley. If we don't want Indians to take advantage of Pandit pain then we cannot possibly open the floor to Pakistan's demagoguery.


A lot of our population in AJK today is incensed at Pakistan's fresh attempt to 'own' Kashmir. A half hour midday vigil on a Friday afternoon was less solidarity with the Kashmir Valley and more business as usual; "Kashmir Banega Pakistan" (Kashmir will become Pakistan); in other words we're the benign ones, the Muslims of Pakistan standing against the oppression of a Hindu India. The latter is oppressing Muslims and thus a Hindu wrong makes two Muslims right and thus the majority of the world - which is non-Muslim -should heed our claim for Kashmir to become Pakistan.  


How logical is that?


Our internal narrative has to rise above narrating pain according to one's religious, regional. linguistic, tribal or sectarian identity. Indeed, we need to be candid about our own shortcomings, which in some aspects tower above the violations of our basic rights by India, Pakistan and the rest of the world.


This internal narrative must be inclusive, respect the right of any part of the erstwhile State of J & K to opt out from re-unification at any stage. The structure of the process envisaged must be representative of the population and the regional and international order should allow this process to take shape without external interference. Whether any part of the divided State wishes to rejoin or break away must be the unfettered choice of its people. Not dictated by the outside world.


This in short would be the parameters of a peace narrative as opposed to a war narrative. 


Indo-Pak bilateralism has failed beyond repair. It is characterised by external manipulation of the local citizenry, non democratic and unconstitutional procedure and an ever burgeoning war economy.


A peace narrative needs no bigger incentive to succeed than the fear of sinking further into a war economy. This also requires us to find solutions to water management and climate change, which should convince global civil society that we have a viable alternative that could provide utility to the world. 


Indo-Pak bilateralism would be replaced by meaningful discussion between those parts of the State with the respective controller of their territory. That is, GB and AJK with Pakistan and the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh with India. This could also entail AJK communicating with the Indian government on matters where we feel they are hindering an internal political process and likewise it could also entail Jammu communicating with Pakistan over any hindrance of the latter affecting them. Having said that, in the main such deliberations would be subject to the internal political process maturing to be increasingly practical. External manipulation would be replaced by internal consensus using local resources. The process would by definition be democratic and constitutional. Then we could seriously begin thinking about the dividends of a peace economy. 


The above paragraph in essence has even been discussed with our diaspora, many of whom are keen to open new channels of discussion to move away from the bilateralism that feeds the economy of war. If the Hurriyat Conference can speak to both countries over the decades and almost at will, there is no reason why both sides of Jammu cannot speak to both countries.


Essential Background: The Internal Political Process AJK > J & K


This whole procedure would be gradual according to the practicality of each step and the capacity of the local population to deliver it. Solutions are never difficult, having the political will to carry them out is far more significant.


The alternatives are quite bleak and the onus is on the aspiring citizens of Jammu & Kashmir to make this internal political process work.       


What is the Jammu narrative?


While pursuing the above, the peace as opposed to war narrative entails that we also shift our focus from a Valley centric solution towards a Jammu centric solution. If the divided parts of Jammu which have suffered the bulk of enforced migration since 1947 and consequent communal casualties can bind themselves back together piece by piece, that would give a geographic cushion to the Kashmir Valley from further Indo-Pak confrontation over them. 


It is ironic that Indian controlled Jammu has suffered from regionalism in favour of the Kashmir Valley by the Indian centre and likewise Pakistan has desired that we - AJK -merely exist for the sake of bolstering their claim for the Kashmir Valley. It is also ironic that since 2005, internal routes within the divided State have opened (with limitations albeit) in the Valley and in Poonch but not in any part of divided Jammu.


Despite what we've gone through - genocide of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs wherever each were a minority - and the lack of attention over our plight, our interfaith bonds and composite culture remain intact across the divide in Jammu. So much so that in the past couple of years Pakistan's intelligence agencies have had to work very hard to try and stem the flow of information between us, generated via social media. They haven't been successful though. At times, Pakistan's intelligence agencies have gone to the extent of threatening individuals here in AJK for engaging in conversations with our non Muslim brethren residing in Jammu.


Now, more to the point......given that J & K is not a bilateral issue and given that each country needs to be engaged with; according to whatever the local population perceives to be a restriction on the very internal political process needed to navigate away from this war economy. We have been trying for the past couple of years to facilitate the visit of Dr. Karan Singh to AJK. However, it appears that the Indian State has never been fond of such an idea. 


Essential background: Reconciliation for divided Jammu & Kashmir; working towards peace


His mere arrival here aged 88 would usher in a new era of peace.


As mentioned on the subject of Sharda earlier this summer, we did try and have a formal on the record (transparent) conversation with the Pakistanis. However, they weren't keen on transparency whatsoever and we as public policy activists - dependent on public funding to uphold public interest - cannot drag ourselves into ambiguity.


We feel that this is an opportune time as civil society in AJK to engage with the Indian State, on the subject of them not putting any obstacles in the way of Dr Karan Singh coming to AJK, if he so desires.


We aim to facilitate his entry into AJK via Khuiratta and indeed wish to discuss this matter with representatives of the Indian State at Tain. Specifically at the pre 1947 intersection where North would take you to Rajouri and South would take you to Jammu. This point is very close to the LOC. 


We have spent over two years (Between 2012 and 2014) on 'softening up' the LOC in Khuiratta and this initiative will merely be a continuation from where we left off.


Essential Background: Cracking the LOC at Tain - Khuiratta AJK 03/04/13   


There is much more to write on this seemingly dreamy subject but so much time, effort, intellect and resources have gone into pursuing what are essentially our basic, fundamental rights; enjoyed by a significant amount of the world's population.


Given that this initiative is essentially a public interest issue and has been derived from lengthy and multiple sources of internal public opinion, we wish to proceed - as always -with the strength of the collective wisdom of our society.


Hence, before we formally put this invitation of a proposed meeting with representatives of the Indian State at Tain - Khuiratta - on the matter of Dr Karan Singh's visit to AJK - to the Indian government, we wish to obtain agreement from the following 3 entities in AJK:


1) All operating factions of the JKLF in AJK

2) PNA - People's National Alliance
3) The AJK Government
         
Note: copies of this letter will be sent out to to all 3 entities tomorrow morning (the 31st of August) and we hope to receive the response of all 3 by the 7th of August.

For ease of communication and minimum ambiguity the following Urdu audio of the English text above will be sent out too:



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I have been singing a similar song for years......




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We are relentlessly pursuing the (belated) enactment of Britain's unfulfilled responsibilities in the avoidable dispute over Jammu & Kashmir:



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I'm feeling compelled to quote and translate some Urdu poetry, despite not being an avid fan of poetry's role in the modern age:

Kashmir

Sach bata do qaum ko ab barmalla
Maar aye kaun sa teer tum
Ab wakaalat kya karogey tum meri
Bech aye ho mera Kashmir tum

Written by Akram Sohail in Urdu

Translation:

Inform the nation of the truth absolutely
What targets have your arrows achieved?
How will you advocate on my behalf?
Now that you've gone and sold my Kashmir

.......

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 241 of 2019

1917hrs:

We must spare a thought every day for those who have been under heavy restrictions in the Valley of Kashmir for 25 days. Indeed some of our co-citizens have suggested that the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) be lobbied while food and medicine be given to them, bought from all major capitals of the world, to take to the besieged Valley.

While doing so, let's not forget the prisoners of conscience in Gilgit Baltistan:




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While thinking about the humans of this heavily contested territory, some thought should also be devoted to the effects of an unnecessary conflict on wildlife here too:




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This is a scene from a few days ago in Muzaffarabad:



To your right is Najeeb Naqi, minister for health in the AJK government with his head bowed down in deference and to your left is the Health Secretary, who always happens to be a senior member of Pakistan's army and on this occasion is a Major-General.

The body language should give an idea of the power relationship between the two and by logical extension between the Pakistani State and AJK. Our efforts to democratise and empower AJK includes these politicians who have stooped very low for personal interest, at the cost of public interest in AJK.

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Please stop standing, sit down! Let the Kashmiris work this one out for themselves. I'm sure the other divided parts can assist where necessary!

There is no need for a 'Pakistani Friday Vigil For Kashmir'; is the resounding message from AJK:


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Earlier today, the lawyers of Muzaffarabad made an attempt to march towards Srinagar from Chakothi. A tussle emerged between them and local AJK police, who are deputed by the Pakistani State to ensure their bilateral agreement with India (Karachi Agreement - 27/07/1949) doesn't break. Of course, they only break it if they want to send militants across, not to oblige the aspiring citizens of Jammu & Kashmir whose fundamental right to movement is curtailed by this aforementioned agreement.

Here's footage of the scene today:



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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 240 of 2019

1132hrs:

This is probably the clearest message to the international community on the status of Jammu & Kashmir. There are no if's or but's.

A Citizen's Witness Statement to Global Civil Society:


Abdul Majeed Malik - x. Chief Justice of High Court - AJK


Photo Credit: Twitter @aqdurrani49



Transcription and Translation (from Urdu into English):

Jammu Kashmir ki awaam ko do tok ye elaan karna chahiye 
Dunya saari ko ye paigham dena chahiye 

The public of Jammu Kashmir should make a clear announcement
It should give this message to the whole world

Ke Riyasat Jammu Kashmir aik azaad mamlikat hay
Is ke iqtadaar e ala ke maalik Jammu Kashmir ki awaam hay

That the State of Jammu Kashmir is a free country
Paramountcy is owned by the public of Jammu Kashmir

Aur Jammu Kashmir ki awaam na kisi muaedey me shaamil hain
Na unho ne kisi ke saath commitment ki hay.

The public of Jammu Kashmir are not part of any agreement 
Neither have they made a commitment with anyone

Na wo Hindustaan ka hissa hain, na wo Pakistan ka hissa hain.
Balqey wo aik alag mamlikat hain.

They are not a part of India, neither are they a part of Pakistan.
Indeed they are a separate country.

Aur Is ki taeed Pakistan ka a'in Chappan (1956) ka bhi, unees so Baasat (1962) ka bhi aur Unees so Thehatar (1973) bhi zikr karta hay..
Jis ka Article 257 zamaanat deta hay ke Riyasat Jammu Kashmir na Hindustaan ka hissa hay, na wo Pakistan ka hissa hay, 

This is confirmed by Pakistan's constitution in 1956, in 1962 too and in 1973 it is mentioned too..
In which article 257 assures that the State of Jammu Kashmir is not a part of India, neither is it a part of Pakistan. 

Balqey us ka alag azaad khud-mukhtar wajood qaim hay
Jis ka faisla Jammu Kashmir ke awaam ne karna hay

Indeed that it has a separate, free and independent existence.
On whose behalf the public of Jammu Kashmir will decide.

To in haalaat me hum ne ye elaan karna hay:
Ke Riyasat Jammu Kashmir ki awaam kisi muaedey ke paaband nahi hay; na wo Sind-Taas muaedey ke paaband hain, na Simla Accord ke paaband hain, na kisi aur muaedey me paaband hain. 

So, in these circumstances we have to make an announcement:
That the public of the State of Jammu Kashmir are not bound by any agreement; they are not bound by the Indus Basin Treaty, they are not bound by the Simla Accord and neither are they bound in any other agreement.  

Balqey wo kisi Riyasat ke...kisi bhi taaqat ko faisla karney ka ikhtyar nahi detey hain, na Hindustaan is ka koi faisla karsakta hay, na Pakistan kar sakta hay.

Further that they do not give any State...or any Power the right to choose (on their behalf), India can not make any such decision and neither can Pakistan.

Balqey Jammu Kashmir ki awaam khud apney mulk ko azaad rakhna chahtey hain aur azaadi hi un ka mission hay

In fact the public of Jammu Kashmir themselves want to keep their country free and freedom itself is their mission

Wo kisi taqseem ko bhi qabool nahi karengey aur kisi aur faisley ko bhi qabool nahi karengey...

They will also not accept any partition/division (of their land) and neither will they accept any other decision...

wa maa alaina il-lal balaagh (Arabic)
This is what we have to disseminate (spread, tell others)
   
1 min 18 sec statement in Mirpur
Jammu Kashmir TV aired on 28/08/19

link: http://bit.ly/2KZClyi

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A bit of blog time and space should be devoted to yesterday's coverage in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper of the nation-wide protests in favour of 'Jammu Kashmir Chor Do Tehreek' (Quit Jammu Kashmir Movement) the day before viz. the 26th of August:

Here are a couple of tweets of mine on the subject:



Earlier:



I had initially seen the link to this article in a message which had a more accurate spin. Thus, when you compare the two different set of presentations, you will distinguish between a Pakistani narrative and an internal narrative:






The image in the twitter link and on Dawn's website are different from the images above. There are Pakistani and Jamaat e Islami (perceived as right-wing and closely affiliated to Pakistan's military) flags in the former and internal narrative images in the latter above.


The title in the twitter link and on Dawn's website is: "AJK capital sees first march for occupied Kashmir's independence".


The title in the image above is: "AJK capital sees first march for independence".


Update 1444hrs:

Dawn have now changed the image for the article on their website, to the following:




From this:


However, the title remains misleading. viz. "AJK capital sees first march for occupied Kashmir's independence" as opposed to "AJK capital sees first march for independence".

Indeed, even this latter title would not be correct. As this was most certainly not the AJK capital's first march for independence. These marches began way back in the 1960's and in the context of Mirpur began even earlier in the 1950's.

The title should be changed to: "AJK en masse demands both Indo-Pak Quit Jammu Kashmir".

That is, if it wishes to reach the summit of truth. 

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Update 1351hrs:


This is serious interference in the internal narrative of AJK, at a critical juncture:




"Jang ka mahol banaey" means, "Make a war like environment (here)".

"Me aap ki taeed leney nahi aaya" means, "I haven't come to solicit your approval".


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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 239 of 2019

1046hrs:

I wonder if the following image is clear enough to our people and the rest of the world:


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As we dig deeper:



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Assessing the quality of public mobilisation in AJK and GB:



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Monday, 26 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 238 of 2019

2158hrs:

Possibly the strongest message ever from AJK to Jammu (and also Kashmir).....Much of the territory that constitutes less than 6% of the land but over 25% of the population of J & K was stalled for a part of the day, as protests led by the nascent JKPNA (Jammu Kashmir National Alliance) swept most urban areas of the region.

This is Rawalakot:


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In Muzaffarabad, outside UNMOGIP's office:



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Here's a picture collage of various parts of the State today, in what is already being described as unprecedented in the history of AJK:




Yes, I will translate... 

Under the banner of 'People's National Alliance'
From Neelam to Bhimber
The whole nation has woken
Now we will confront these colonial gods

Whoever comes in our way will be brushed aside

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Sunday, 25 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 237 of 2019

1404hrs:

The following means a lot in the context of relations between Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir:



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The Pakistani State encroaches in AJK as well as GB. Here's an example:



Translated thus:

There is encroachment happening here too! 

It was on the 26th of July when I had decided to spend some time on leisure travelling. It was my heart's desire that I venture out towards the mountain of Makra. 

I proceeded towards Garhi Habeebullah (in Hazara - Pakistan from Muzaffarabad via Brarkot) and a place above there by the name of Galothi. From this point I descended to begin my journey by foot. I noticed gradually that there were lights fixed in cement which signified the border between Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir, thus distinguishing both territories.

From here, I walked to Pir Chilla. Then to Noor Gali above followed by Dath Katha before finally reaching Danna. At this stage, the boundary began appearing strange as from the point where I had begun my jouney on foot and proceeded, I learned that this path was the actual border (between Pakistan and AJK). However, there was no marking of a border whatsoever!

I realised that the markings here were very deep inside (AJK territory) and thus I eventually reached the foot of Makra mountain. Up to here, the markings were similar to that explained before and I thought that these must be permanent markings. Yet upon inquiring from an individual present there the situation became clearer. 

This individual explained that he (and his family/colleagues) vacate this area in the winter and descend from these heights below into agricultural fields/areas. He further explained that when he returned this time (this spring) to these heights, he noticed a KPK (Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa province of Pakistan adjacent to Northern AJK) Dept of Forestry building erected here.

A 'fresh' demarcation had been made. Now, there were guards/constables stationed here too, who supervise the area and don't allow anybody in. 

Also present there was an old man from whom I pursued further information on this route/path. He told me that this path is of the Dogra era (pre 1947). Then people used to take goods on this route/path and apart from that - being a border - the Dogra army was also present and this was indeed the original border.

My dear friends, comrades and co-citizens; we have heard that KPK has been regularly interfering and encroaching in GB (Gilgit Baltistan) but we had never heard that KPK was interfering here in AJK too, albeit all too subtly.

In this modern era, there is much less traffic of people in this area and our public rarely use this path. This is being exploited by our neighbours. There is much for us to ponder over.

Wasalaam

Khan Umair Khan


At Muzaffarabad, J & K, capital of AJK

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Meanwhile, here is my standard response to anybody who wishes or urges Pakistan to do something on J & K:

My response to all Pakistani citizens and their State is to stop talking about Kashmir and silently vacate AJK and GB. 

Both these territories are desperate to represent themselves to the outside world. 

It is in such a scenario that we in AJK will be able to assist the Valley of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh; if they so desire. 

This is a legal, moral, peaceful, democratic battle on behalf of the citizens of Jammu & Kashmir against India. 

Pakistan has already wasted 57 years since K. H. Khursheed made a similar suggestion while President of AJK in 1962.

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Saturday, 24 August 2019

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 236 of 2019

1637hrs:

Journalists who flocked en masse from Muzaffarabad towards the LOC at Chakothi, to express their solidarity with their besieged brethren across the line, have been prevented from proceeding beyond Chinari, by forces under the control of the Pakistani State.

Will some of them continue to blindly sing the praises of the Pakistani army, or will they understand the 'game' for what it really is?

Here are some current scenes from Chinari:



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The negative environmental impact of Neelam-Jhelum project on aquatic life:


#say_no_to_river_diversions


Translation of FB post above:

River Neelam

Some reports are being circulated these days that those running the dam (Neelam-Jhelum Project) are throwing such chemicals into the river (Neelam) which are killing the fish in large numbers. Hundreds of thousands of people's waste/garbage is also thrown into this hitherto spring clean river. There are thousands of restaurants operating by the riverside, they also throw their rubbish into the river.

The powers-that-be take notice!

#saveenvironment
#save river

End of FB post translation.. 

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Nitasha Kaul has featured here before and will no doubt feature here in the future too. I have always thought that the women of this territory will advocate our case much more effectively than our men could ever do:



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We have still much to learn from other citizen-led activism in the rest of the world:



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I noticed my name surfacing on Google alerts today with a link to the following 'news story':




Now, this interview was actually conducted on the 28th of June 2018:

Here it is:



It was also logged on this very day in my daily diary. Here's the direct link:

Now, since this recent interest in the video - generated by the Indian news agency ANI - I know Sardar Sagheer Khan has been confronted with a lot of criticism for 'giving' news to the Indians while so many of our Muslim brethren are under virtual lock down for over 20 days.

A few points are important to note here:

1) The date of the interview compared to when ANI reported it.
2) Pakistan should refrain from such acts which nullify its own stance and give ample opportunity to India to take advantage of.
3) More important than the Pakistanis handing the Indian narrative a clear victory, is the damage that infiltration does to our social fabric in AJK and the consequences of further marginalisation of the internal narrative here, which does not correspond with Pakistan's narrative.
4) The Indians should realise that there are always 2 sides to a coin. You cannot emulate what the Pakistanis do viz. twist information to suit your respective nationalist narrative while drowning out the genuine internal narrative of AJK. Thereby claiming moral victory.
5) In the interest of humanity, media ethics, civilisational progress and conflict resolution; Indian civil society and the Indian State should provide equal space to all the various public narratives that exist in J & K.

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Daily Diary (DD) - Day 321 of 2019

1913hrs: Mirpur, Kotli, Gulpur..................Gurutta It has been a while since my vehicle last broke down. Did it have to happen o...