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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 272 of 2021

2324hrs:

One has to adjust without notice at times. In any case, our frame of mind is always to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

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Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 271 of 2021

2055hrs:

The world is full of intrigue and commerce. We are part of the intrigue but not the commerce.

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Monday, 27 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 270 of 2021

1956hrs:

Data overload also means task overload. Sometimes it can take a whole day of work to establish what has been covered and what hasn't. Such has been today's experience.

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Sunday, 26 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 269 of 2021

2153hrs:

A lot of engagement with the judiciary in the past few days. A facet of governance that links its boldness in making public interest judgements with the strength of the public to speak out and mobilise in a significant political formation.

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Saturday, 25 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 268 of 2021

2246hrs:

For the first time since my release from jail in Mirpur - over 3 months - I've spent a whole day in Mirpur city, barely a few kilometres away from the jail where I spent over 9 months.

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Friday, 24 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 267 of 2021

2237hrs:

A hectic day yesterday.....the chances of blogging an entry yesterday fizzled out without notice. I didn't realise until it was already about half an hour past midnight.

.....


While we were condoling the passing of Sabir Ansari - advocate and veteran of the JKLF movement - at a reference held in his honour in Mirpur yesterday, there was a back bench debate on 'Human Rights: Kashmir' taking place in the House of Commons in London.

One speech that stood out for its pointed references to Britain's responsibilities was that of Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South:


Particular passages from her speech were noted as follows:

(Minutes) 1:46 - 2:17

Mr Deputy Speaker, human rights abuses in Kashmir are not simply some issue of foreign policy of which Britain can wash its hands of responsibility, nor are they a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve. This House has a special responsibility for the plight of the Kashmiri people. In 1947, as the colonial power the British government oversaw partition of the Indian sub-continent and rejected calls for Kashmiri independence. That decision laid the groundwork for the oppression we see in Kashmir today. 

Here's a link to the text generated for the whole debate.


Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 265 of 2021

1634hrs:

I did want to participate in today's NAP (National Awami Party) Convention in Rawalakot, as per my invitation last week. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 264 of 2021

2016hrs:

We continue to construct...brick by brick.......indeed sometimes we even have to break down the bricks into smaller particles to make progress. Moving forward like time and with time is crucial.

.......

Monday, 20 September 2021

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 262 of 2021

1844hrs:

A whole day at home - travel free - which means I can concentrate fully on the oceans of work pending. I understand that I have to re-arrange my life dramatically, to get from 10% of work uploaded since 2005 to as near as 100% in the next few years. 

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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 261 of 2021

2027hrs:

This is a common sentiment in the evening. A lot of communication with a lot of people. A lot to do in terms of sharing data - videos and the written word are most sought after - and I can't let anybody down.

...

Friday, 17 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 260 of 2021

1830hrs:

Relative calm after what was essentially a stormy visit to the Neelam Valley and other areas South enroute and on return. From Sehnsa and Dadyaal the total round trip amounts to close to 800 km. This was my third whirlwind journey since my release from prison on the 19th of June.

I did try and log an entry yesterday but missed the midnight deadline by a matter of minutes once again.

 

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 258 of 2021

2259hrs:

Travel continues........putting the past few days into perspective.....reviewing the experience....the biggest challenge by far is the competing attitudes of my own people. Most mean well but tend to operate in circles.....result: little forward movement....and if there is, it is followed by many steps back. It's a challenge I relish though despite everything.

.....

Today was yet another busy day. Some of my journalist friends had insisted that I should conduct a press conference at Central Press Club Muzaffarabad, not least to begin mainstream interaction despite contesting narratives (viz. the Pakistani nationalist narrative versus the internal narrative of AJK). 


Here's the video footage:


Earlier in the day I had paid a visit to the High Court of AJK as well as the Department of Tourism & Archeology where I met DG (Director General) Irshaad Peerzada to discuss the latest events in and in reference to Sharda:


Here are the video updates given outside the building:


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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 257 of 2021

1945hrs: 

With so many thoughts and responsibilities going through my mind, it is difficult to pin down what to write but it is important to be as frank as possible. That is my defence as well as attack. I am not working for any ideology with global aspirations but am pursuing geographic nationalism viz. a neutral State with regional as much as global solutions in the shape of water management.

This alone will not save me from political exploitation despite my pursuit being peaceful, educational, economic and cultural.  

......

Today was the third day in a row of cross LOC interaction aiming to create cultural possibilities, primarily through rebuilding religious harmony. 


Here's a compilation of videos which cover today's activity:


The video compilation above covers angles from this side of the divide (Pakistani-controlled) at Chelhana while the following video has clips from the subsequent press conference at Central Press Club Muzaffarabad along with clips taken on the other side of the divide (Indian-controlled) at Teetwaal:


There was coverage of this event by local media too:


Urdu:


English:


Then, finally at the end of the event I gave my closing statement in Urdu:




........

Monday, 13 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 256 of 2021

2357hrs:

I think this day will be remembered as the most notable day in the history of AJK, certainly in terms of rebuilding religious harmony in a territory which practically extinguished all such credentials by 1948, when the last caretaker of Sharda Peeth namely Swami Nand Lal Ji was forced to leave:


The event - video captured above - was by no means 'plain sailing'. There was much we - as civil society in AJK - had to ponder in terms of the boundaries of our own faith and then consider the possible repercussions of the ignorant and extremist elements in our society. Many of whom have been taught from a very young age that everything valuable in this world and the hereafter is the exclusive domain of Muslims. 

This ignores the message of the Holy Qur'an that it is a divine book providing guidance for the whole of humanity and not just Muslims. Every human being is entitled to whatever beliefs they choose to possess and it is the Almighty Allah who will judge the intention and conduct of each and everyone of us. We cannot be genuine Muslims if we forego the needs of humanity at large. After all, they (other humans) all breathe the same air we breath, they all need the same things we need viz. right to protection of life, wealth and honour and if they co-exist amongst us - viz. Jammu Kashmir & Allied areas - it is our responsibility to protect and facilitate them in their just needs and demands. Otherwise, we will all continue to suffer from needless conflict until doomsday.

In short, the freedom of Muslims is bound in accepting the freedom of everyone else who co-exists on this planet.

We began our quest for religious harmony in Sharda by visiting the grave of one of the local pioneers of this aspiration, who had - by fate and coincidence - passed away a few days ago. Namely Bashir Chittah:


Contrary to common perceptions - particularly aroused by political parties in AJK - that I operate as an individual and not as a team; this public event like all previous public events has involved heavy engagement with my co-citizens beforehand, followed by appropriate participation. This particular event involved 10 of us - some from the Muzaffarabad division including the Neelam Valley and some of us from Mirpur division.  


When we put up a white flag on the wall behind where we camped at Sharda Peeth, the Pakistani army which has been protecting this heritage site for the last few decades became agitated. There had already been an altercation between them and some members of our team when one of us (amongst the youngest) decided to climb onto the roof of the Peeth (mandir/temple).


After a period of cooling down between both antagonists (viz. the Pakistani army and us) we set about embarking on the job we came here to do. Namely, putting up the two portraits (of Sharda Devi and Swami Nand Lal Ji who was the last saint and caretaker of the Peeth until 1948) handed over to us by a South Indian couple living in Hong Kong (Venkataraman and Sujaata) who had visited AJK in October 2019. Here's BBC coverage of their puja (Hindu worship) on the banks of the river Neelam (Kishenganga) at Pateeka, which was the first time such puja had taken place in AJK since 1948:


It should also be noted that the Hindu couple were not allowed to proceed to Sharda to conduct this puja ritual (as directed by Pakistan's clandestine agencies to concerned local quarters) but after prolonged negotiations with the local AJK administration at the time, we settled on Pateeka as the venue. Here's a discussion on Facebook at the time highlighting the obstruction:

 

Returning to today's proceedings, we went about our task while the Pakistani army intermittently came up to the Peeth but thankfully they didn't disturb us. For me personally, I had to go through much soul searching to play the hymns that my Hindu co-citizens had requested me to play while filming at the Peeth. Obviously, I want to minimise the level of controversy that may emerge from carrying out this human endeavour. I do understand that my Hindu co-citizens have not been able to visit this temple of theirs and thus, neither have they had the opportunity to worship here for over 7 decades. This is the closest they can get at this stage and I felt it my duty to fulfil their innocent aspirations. What tilted my decision is imagining if we as Muslims were deprived of visiting Makkah for decades and how we would feel if somebody were to play the 'takbir' for our spiritual upliftment at the Kaaba, for us to watch on video from afar.


Soon after we were done and just waiting for the banner (requesting visitors to take off their shoes before entering the sanctum of the temple) to arrive from Muzaffarabad; a stern message was relayed by the Pakistani army that we should take off the portraits from the mandir forthwith. In response, I sent 3 of my colleagues (all politicians or political workers led by Sadaqat Mughal of Athmaqam in Neelam) to speak to the army's senior-most representative at Sharda.  

They were initially met by a Subedar, who then escalated the issue to a Major, who in turn referred my colleagues to Colonel Najeeb (probably the senior-most Pakistani army representative at Sharda). 

The gist of the conversation with the Subedar was as follows:

Subedar: Aap Hinduo ki baat kyou kartey hain? 
(Why do you talk on behalf of Hindus?)

(Response by Sadaqat Mughal hereafter SM): Wo hamaarey riyasat ke shehri hain bilqul usi tarah jaisey Pakistan me Hindu, Sikh aur Isai bastey hain aur aap par farz hay un ki baat karna aur tahaffuz karna 
(They are our co-citizens - of Jammu Kashmir & Allied areas - in an identical manner to how Hindus, Sikhs and Christians live in Pakistan; whom you are duty-bound to talk on behalf of and protect)

Subedar: Aap Pakistani nahi hain? 
(Are you not Pakistani?)

SM: Nahi me Kashmir ka hoo 
(No, I'm of Kashmir)

Subedar: Kaun si Kashmir ka? 
(Which Kashmir?)

SM: Jammu Kashmir

Subedar: Aap apney aap ko Pakistani nahi samajhtey? 
(Do you not consider yourself a Pakistani?)

SM: Nahi me Jammu Kashmir ka shehri hoo jis ki azaadi adhoori hay
(No, I am a citizen of Jammu Kashmir whose freedom is incomplete)

Subedar: To hum kis liye aaye huwey hain?
(So, what are we - the Pakistani army - doing here?) 

SM: Ye to aap jaaney
(You should have an answer)

As mentioned earlier, the Subedar then escalated the matter to a Major. This time Sadaqat Mughal posed the question that if this (Sharda Peeth) is not under your control as you say then why are you giving orders to the public? Please give us this order to take down the portraits in the temple in writing.

My colleagues were soon taken to the Colonel (who we presume was the senior-most representative of the Pakistani army at Sharda). The Colonel did begin by explaining that he was new in this particular post. Whereupon Sadaqat Mughal explained that this is a matter of our State (Jammu Kashmir & Allied) and particularly its citizens who haven't been able to visit their places of worship here in AJK for over 7 decades. He elaborated that we want the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists of this State to respect and help protect our Masaajid on the other side of the divide and thus we are trying to show the same respect and aim to help protect all non Muslim places of worship on this side. Further, that this is a multi religious State and we all need to respect each other's beliefs.

The Colonel then suggested that they (my colleagues) get something in writing from the AJK government. In response, Sadaqat Mughal provided my reference that in previous years when I had engaged the local AJK administration on Sharda, they took pains to explain that they had no power to take any initiatives on Sharda. That power was 'vested' in the Pakistani army and its agencies. Sadaqat then explained that in consequence I even visited the Pakistani army brigade headquarters at Kel, in the summer of 2019. Here's a video taken after my aforementioned meeting:


The Pakistani army's senior most available representatives (in Kel and Sharda) in turn explained that there was a local government here and the Pakistani army is restricted to matters of security and doesn't engage in governance. Under such ambiguity the inheritors of this territory (the public of AJK at large who retain de jure sovereignty) have to take initiatives in public interest themselves.

Finally, Sadaqat Mughal explained that we don't want to create fresh conflict which may benefit your adversaries. This is a peaceful initiative which we have executed and we simply wanted you to be aware of what's happening around you. Engagement is better than mutual aloofness.  

Given that the Pakistani army wanted us to take down the 2 portraits we had put up in the mandir and we wouldn't do so unless they gave us this order in writing - so that we may proceed with this issue at an appropriate forum with clarity - there was a deadlock. Consequently, the Pakistani army referred this matter to the local police whom we had a detailed conversation with at Sharda police station:


The conclusion was that the portraits would stay put. If anything happened to them the Pakistani army would be held responsible, as they had taken responsibility for securitising the Peeth. As for the banner (requesting visitors to take their shoes off when entering the sanctum of the temple) the police suggested that we re-engage the Department of Tourism & Archeology and either ask them to give a written clarification as to what initiatives are possible at Sharda Peeth and perhaps even accompany them to put up the banner, whereby they - the local police - would also take part in the initiative:


We thanked them for their time and advice before agreeing that I will meet the Director General of the Department of Tourism & Archeology upon my return to Muzaffarabad, to discuss matters further.

......

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 255 of 2021

0152hrs:

I tried to log an entry about 15 minutes before midnight yesterday but the internet connection was too slow to load this page! 

Travelling........and dealing with intermittent but torrential rain. 

Nature has its own plans, let's celebrate it.

......

We have a hectic few days ahead and we've already spent the most of the last 24 hours travelling. The most notable event today was a book launch on Sharda at Baramulla:


As can be gauged from the banner above, I was also invited to speak online which I did, thankfully finding a strong enough connection to connect just when I needed it in the Neelam Valley. I still await a video recording of the proceedings..........which I find by accessing Facebook without having to trouble the hosts, well a few snippets at least:


Soon after, I was interviewed by a local journalist Khwaja Fayyaz, who also happens to be the Daily Jang correspondent for the region:
 

..........

Friday, 10 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 253 of 2021

2335hrs:

Keeping one's composure after having spent 36 hours awake; of which about 30 have involved constant communication with different co-citizens of the State - local and abroad - plus a couple of hours of travel, can be an invaluable temperament to master.

I would like to announce - if it isn't clear already - that I'm straining for humanity and civilisation by reactivating shared heritage space across religious affinities in Jammu Kashmir & Allied, in a wider region deeply ruptured by religious difference, especially since 1947. 

There is the political narrative and then there's the cultural narrative. The latter can provide much needed oxygen to our conflict ridden territory and in turn generate socio-economic dividends desperately needed by all communities, irrespective of religion. The political arena and the cultural arena can be different activities and demand separate space. The political has proved to be a lock for decades but the cultural can be a key for centuries. 

How does religious/inter-faith harmony trump religious seclusion?

In other words, how can 'lose lose' convert to 'win win'?

These are the questions that will test our society over the next few days.    

If India and Pakistan can stay away from politics in this period so can we, the inhabitants of this territory.

Before we exit the political landscape, I'm of the opinion that Britain has a shared responsibility in this regard too. Not least because of its colonial legacy but it is perfectly positioned to help us 'right' a 'wrong'. Despite its persistent insistence that matters in this region are for India and Pakistan to resolve (while depriving local agency) it can come out from behind the curtain and champion cultural diversity and religious harmony, just as it does in its own country. In this respect, Britain qualifies to lead from the front.

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Thursday, 9 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 252 of 2021

1515hrs:

Logging a bit earlier today, in an attempt to remain ahead of the game:



Now, here's the actual programme:



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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 251 of 2021

2015hrs:

There's a lot that goes on during the course of 24 hours every 24 hours but I'm yet to master the art of logging all important proceedings here, in real time. Thus, a backlog generates over time which becomes impossible to grapple with, in the receding time frame available on the future horizon. More serious matters overtake the less serious despite being important in their own right.

  

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 250 of 2021

 2212hrs:

The world is moving a lot faster than us. If only our people understand the implications of this for our struggle.

Meanwhile, in a bid to alert my co-citizens in good time about crucial upcoming events in public interest I sent out the following message this evening:

A serious message for my co-citizens of AJK - 07/09/2021

Being recognised as a civil society is a condition for being recognised as a Nation State, in the world's most contested region.

We need a world class university and an international airport in AJK if we don't want to disappear as a State - this requires legislation and hence a Public Assembly - the world recognises constitutionalism and representative democratic politics based on public opinion research....it can easily distinguish that from colonial and post-colonial governance structures....we must continue on this people's referenced journey in 2021....I restarted my personal journey towards the end of July when I took my mother to Sharda, even though my health had still not recovered from 13 hunger strikes and almost 10 months in prison. 

The rest of the world is moving much faster than we are and we have to catch up to survive.

In the next few days, this journey takes me to the Neelam Valley once again. There clearly needs to be a common communication channel between civil society in AJK and both India & Pakistan, to avoid any misunderstanding about our pro-life measures, which are part of a prominent internal narrative of Jammu Kashmir & Allied (JKA).

All 3 public narratives (viz. Indian, Internal and Pakistani) must learn to co-exist in this territory while we strain to improve people's lives.

The JKA constitutional, political and human dilemma is not for India and Pakistan to resolve in the shape of permanent division of our territory and forever contested space for the world's larger powers. It is for the local inhabitants to define neutral boundaries and provide practical solutions for the region's water needs.

This journey requires pro-life measures such as world-class education and direct communication with the outside world. 

We in AJK cannot progress with these aspirations without religious harmony. Just as the Masaajid and Darbars of AJK are visited and worship to Allah is alive so must the Mandirs and Gurdwaras of AJK be given that opportunity to be worshipped in, in a manner bearers of those religions seek. It is our duty in humanity to facilitate them.

This is a major reason why other societies are flourishing and we are not.

The Muslims of AJK in particular should also take historic reference from the rule of Zainul Abideen alias 'Budshah', who ruled Kashmir from 1420 to 1470. He understood the importance of religious harmony for security, education, economy and culture. He proved to be the most successful Muslim ruler ever in this region and by far.

End...

Tanveer Ahmed - an independent action-oriented public policy researcher, operating uninterrupted on the ground in AJK since April 2005

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Monday, 6 September 2021

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 248 of 2021

2338hrs:

Yesterday was a very notable day at Palandri........Here's my speech:
 

Earlier in the day, the same broadcaster had taken an interview from me in reference to my on going court case:


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Friday, 3 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 246 of 2021

2045hrs:

What lets us down most of all (as an aspiring nation-State viz. Jammu Kashmir & Allied) is the personal or personality-based arguments we have with each other. This has a direct impact on our objectives and usually cancels out the sincere efforts of many an activist in this region. 

We all have opinions and wish for others to concur with those opinions, which amongst other negative outcomes deprives us of identifying a concise aggregate opinion on which to base public policy. Most - if not all - successful countries master the art of balancing diverse opinion and succeed in creating consensus for public policy. On our part, we struggle to tolerate other opinions even if they resemble our own. For those of us who get past this barrier falter at the next hurdle, namely agreeing on a common plan of action.

..... 

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 245 of 2021

2240hrs:

The tasks we set get harder with each passing day but in turn get easier if we maintain a consistent routine. In fact, there is possibly nothing stronger than consistency to break the heaviest of barriers.

For the record and for those who missed the live videos on JKTV that day viz. 21/08/2020


For the benefit of those of you that are watching the video direct from this page I shall write the description of the video below. You may read and comment as appropriate:

Flags are the most obvious symbols of sovereignty and claims to ownership of territory. De jure sovereignty in AJK belongs to the people, they are the legal inheritors of this territory. The people were also referenced in the declared statement of the 24th of October 1947, claimed by the founding president of AJK. However, de facto sovereignty has been practiced here by the Pakistani State since it invaded via tribal Pathan proxies on the 22nd of October 1947. This invasion practically ended the State of Jammu & Kashmir's independence since the 15th of August 1947; as clarified in the Indian Independence Act whose plan was initially announced on the 3rd of June 1947, then enacted and adopted by the British Parliament, while receiving royal assent on 18 July 1947. This very act also created the dominions of India and Pakistan. The Pakistani invasion on the 22nd of October gave opportunity and casus belli for overt and open Indian involvement in the affairs of Jammu & Kashmir. In other words, Pakistan paved the path for India to openly enter Jammu & Kashmir. Meanwhile, Britain facilitated both countries - which were yet dominions of the British commonwealth - to jointly control respective parts of the State of Jammu & Kashmir (initially 63% India and 37% Pakistan until the entry of China in 1962) without the people's reference being utilised. The status quo persists to date (21 August 2020) while Britain and all other stakeholders keep us - the people - entangled in Indo-Pak bilateralism, which remains a perfect alibi to permanently divide our territory. Thus, de jure sovereignty remains with the people. on whom the onus lies to synchronise that entitlement with a hands-on peaceful, ethical, legal and democratic struggle to reclaim de facto sovereignty. In simpler terms, converting the people's entitlement to public policy in AJK, which would provide a reference for governance and conflict resolution in the remaining parts of Jammu Kashmir and Allied areas. In even simpler terms, reclaiming our 'Right to Rule' from Pakistan will evaporate India's claim to this territory, subject to the people's reference. This video is a testament to this contest, in the most vivid and transparent way possible. Notes (definition of terminology used):

testament (meaning):

noun
1.
a person's will, especially the part relating to personal property.
"father's will and testament"
2.
something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.
"growing attendance figures are a testament to the event's popularity"
Similar:
testimony
witness
evidence
proof
attestation
demonstration
indication

de jure (meaning):

adverb
according to rightful entitlement or claim; by right.
"the resolution declared that the independent Republic of Latvia proclaimed on November 18, 1918 was still in existence de jure"
Similar:
by right
rightfully
legally
according to the law
Opposite:
de facto
adjective
existing or holding a specified position by legal right.
"he had been de jure king since his father's death"

casus belli (meaning):

noun
an act or situation that provokes or justifies a war.

Ref. definition of meanings derived from Google

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 244 of 2021

2149hrs:

One has to get sharper with each passing day. There is little room for error. 

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 341 of 2021

2110hrs:  I didn't finish the missing historic links of Sharda translation until 0900hrs this morning. I had been working on it intermit...