Sunday, October 10, 2010

All about dependence - When will Kashmir be financially independent

[Also published on The Comment Factory, Editor's Pick]
http://www.thecommentfactory.com/kashmirs-economy-is-rotting-because-of-indian-occupation-3741/

[Also Published on Perspective, Greater Kashmir]

[Also published on Opinion, Rising Kashmir]


Indian policies never allowed Kashmir to be a major player in infrastructure planning and liberalization. Skilled workers are the most gifted asset to any emerging super-economy, but for their development, education in finance, economics, technocracy, politics is needed so that our natives get training imparted with adequate skills. Until now, our modest and beautiful valley has been deprived of any major intellectual or economic revolution.

Article 370 in the Indian constitution, which grants autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, has been the biggest flaw and impediment in bringing any social and economic change because it hasn’t been enacted. Leaders have a bigger role to play if they want to bring a revolution in how we live. So far, every elected leader has failed to fulfil his or her promises.
Kashmir produces a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains, yet 40% of them rot because there is no or little advanced processing and packaging service available, thereby depriving people of thousands of jobs.
But if our economy gradually changes from small-scale agriculture to low-end manufacturing to high-end manufacturing, it will change the fate of Kashmir forever. The Indian agriculture sector produces just 20% of the national income. Thus it is clear that tertiary sectors are the soul of economic growth.
Indian agriculture sector produces just 20% of the national income. Thus it is clear that tertiary sectors are the soul of economic growth. Controlled and properly conducted regulatory industrialization through privatization will bear us fruits. But our so called “Special Constitution” drafted by a pack of na├»ve policy makers are giving us a hard time in changing course.
Human resource development can never be achieved in a land or a nation where basic human rights are denied and don’t even exist on paper. How can we expect to develop our human resources when our youth are deliberately ill-treated and discriminated against in recruitment and education? Is there anything Kashmiris can do about this within the orbit of India subjugation and control? No! That is why all Kashmiris talk about politics. It is not that we are not aware of these issues but all these issues are directly linked to our political subjugation.
Kashmir has the least privatized industrial sectors in India. What makes this a part of India’s subjugation policy towards Kashmir is the fact that this has been achieved by a consistent policy aimed at achieving a financial and economic dependence on India. For example JK Cements Ltd – Kashmir’s only profit making PSU – has been one of the most ripe for privatization but it has been denied due to the effect it would have on Indian control over Kashmir’s economic resources. Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd is another one: there is a large cry around the country about JKB’s stocks touching record highs. But most of the stocks are taken by India!
Our literacy level is directly related to the impediments we face due to the absence of human rights. Kashmir is surviving because of self sustainable local businesses –thanks to rich cultural and historic heritage of Kashmir.  There has been an increasing trend of Kashmiris migrating or hunting for jobs in the Gulf, America, Canada and UK.
Recently a local channel stated that Kashmiris now run a carpet and ‘paper-mache’ business in Rome and Helsinki! Indian statistics won’t reveal that Kashmiris are the richest non-resident groups in India followed by Guajaratis, or statistics regarding huge reserves of granite, slate, marble, iron ore and sapphires which are literally being allowed to rot due to their attitude towards privatization.
One of the most significant regulatory burdens in India is labour regulation which provides disincentive to grow businesses, reduces flexibility in operations and increases exit costs. India still lags far behind others in terms of GDP or human development. A research study by an international company stated that companies regularly find administrative compliances, complex taxation, poor infrastructure in developing and emerging cities and corruption considerable. The result is that India pays more to rivals to produce, distribute and export goods.
If we compare areas and cities of Kashmir with Indian emerging cities, we stand absolutely nowhere! It’s an alarming situation we are facing right now. But the greatest irony is that the Indian laws are only for the protection of labourers in an organized sector, but even then some Kashmiri people usually work on low wages, find no work, and get involved in brawls due to unfavorable atmosphere in various parts of India. Some modest Kashmiris also face terrorism charges. Many students who want to pursue higher education in India are deprived of admission due to their birth place. Some recruiters crack jokes: “You were born in a wrong place”.
No matter how many false dreams are aired on public television or how many new economic packages are being allotted to Kashmir on paper, the fact is that Kashmiris are not a part of their own economy by design. They cannot create more jobs, more assets and more revenue generating units to the fullest of their capabilities because they are not involved in their own economy. Our own banks don’t belong to us. Our profit making PSU belongs to the Government of India.
Our hospitals depend on central grants for upkeep and infrastructural development. Our best schools are managed and controlled by missionaries who have absolutely no interest in the bigger political conundrums of Kashmir.
We need a new approach in dealing with the economics of Jammu & Kashmir. Corruption is literally choking every service sector, and impeding economic growth. We have to develop adequate infrastructure with proper planning and resource management. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in a ruinous economic crisis, which would create dangerous reactions in every section of our society.
© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aftermaths of Indian PM's speech



After more than 50 deaths and 50 days of reckless fury, the soft-spoken Indian Prime Minister broke his silence. This silence couldn't have been justified at the first place but destruction of public property, massive civil disobedience and martyrdoms made him conceive hostile Indian sentiments in Kashmiri psyche.
Indian Prime Minister addressed the nation, about Kashmir in broken Urdu, totally restraint, disciplined about Kashmiri sentiment now, not uttering words like 'stone pelters' or 'Lashkar' influence and not faulting his neighbor- a political custom- for the long occurrences of protests; a rare happening a Kashmiri could have witnessed. He promised to review AFSPA, hinted autonomy, which was designed and eroded by late Sheikh Abdullah. There is a realization shown by him, as now he knows that holding Kashmiris hostage to a badly designed political machinery, championing the cause of rabid nationalism, has just resulted in alienation of the Kashmiri people.
The aftermaths of his speech have received mixed reactions. It was expected as Kashmir holds politics of variance, leaders follow distinct ideologies. It has become clear that there are five approaches to deal with the Kashmir dispute:
National Conference - Indian Congress: Since the dialogue phase commenced, National Conference have been firm advocates of autonomy, a document which was designed and eroded by its founder, Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah. Autonomy also has its references in the Indian constitution. The Autonomy Bill has been already passed in 1999, in the state legislature, but was flagrantly dismissed by the central union cabinet, at that time. It includes total exercise of freedom in administration, favors its own parliament, own prime minister, own flag, own election commission and annulment of Supreme Court & Comptroller Auditor rulings from India. Only foreign affairs, defense, communications and currency would be controlled by Indian state. Indian National Congress also have shown a soft corner to this document and NC advocates believe that this is the most practical solution to the Kashmir dispute.
Hurriyiat Conference (Mirwaiz): The separatist faction led by the Mirwaiz of Kashmir, is a centrist secessionist amalgam. Mirwaiz supports unification of Kashmir, phased demilitarization, compensation and justice to human rights violations and making the LOC irrelevant, to encourage free trade -  most notably the Musharaf's four point formula. Mirwaiz is non committal to dialogue till revocation of draconian laws, but encourages political debate.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) : This mainstream party, led by former Indian home minister, Mufti Muhammed Syed, believes in a “Self-Rule Resolution” for Kashmir. The party believes in a joint legislature for Kashmir, controlled by New Delhi-Islamabad, shared sovereignty, joint management of resources and dual currency.
Hurriyiat Conference (Geelani) : The separatist faction is lead by far-famed separatist, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. This faction believes in initiating a referendum, according to the resolutions drafted by the United Nations. This group has an illustrious history and sentiment towards Pakistan and Islamic reformists. Release of political prisoners and boycotting Indian elections are one of their forefront agendas. They are mainly non-committal to dialogue and believe in subversive forms of protests to oust Indian existence out of Kashmir.
Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP): It’s an Indian mainstream party, with strong ideological affiliations with Hindu nationalism. They believe in complete integration of Kashmir within India, recognize the current political arrangement, and believe in scraping out of Article 370.

It seems clear that in order to look for a consensus, the Prime Minister of India will face tough times in repairing the political fragmentation. Kashmir issue needs an inter-country consensus and not only a regional centre-state consensus. Pakistan will also have a big role to play, if there needs to be an inclusive dialogue, because taking self-imposed decisions will go against the sentiments for Kashmiris. It seems clear that a common Kashmiri seems unshaken, annoyed and unhappy about PM’s economic packages and his plans to strengthen elections for local councils.
An inclusive negotiation needs to balance the persuasions, because common Kashmiri cannot be held hostage to ideological divergences. There should be a reference point, and that should address the grievances and aspirations of the Kashmris. That would be only possible, if leaders show a will to resolve, show recognition to our disputed history, and unconditional commitment by excluding their personal interests and resentment for each other.

Conflicts are meant to be resolved.
© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Good Friday Agreement for Kashmir

[Also published on Open Democracy, London]

[Also published on The Muslim Institute, London]

[Also published on Counter Currents]

"The prospect for peace in Kashmir lies, according to Naveed Qazi, in an adaptation of an arrangement similar to the one that brought peace to North Ireland."


Fatalities in Kashmir are fast reaching a six-digit figure, yet the levels of fatalities do not seem to stimulate desire for a genuine peace process on the part of both hostile neighbours. In spite of this unfortunate fact, the world has seen civilized solutions to conflict and one of the prime examples is vested in the Good Friday Agreement. It has been held up as good practice in resolving the Kashmir dispute, principally by Sumantra Bose, not least because the arrangement respects the variance of overall sentiment. The Good Friday Agreement allowed genuine negotiations to replace guns in the resolution of a political conflict over self-determination and ended fighting on a mass-scale.

The transformation of the conflict from a violent mode to a political mode owes credit to the dedication shown by Irish Republican and British government actors, advisors and the population in pursuing peace. India and Pakistan, contrarily, are not devoted to a sincere analysis of this efficient arrangement in recent times nor have they tried to resolve the dispute with a firm and heartfelt belief.

The Good Friday Agreement set up new institutions and a higher degree of cooperation across the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland and United Kingdom. The theme of the arrangement was based on various stages which included decommissioning paramilitary forces resulting in demilitarization (pdf), police reform, reforms in social/political and productive/economic institutions. It also set out a plan based on stability on an inclusive basis and provided grounds for the rolling out of human rights mores and the release of political prisoners. The dynamics of the Irish-British dispute match those of Kashmir dispute, and it could help in providing an evolutionary model for Kashmir.

Twelve years down the line since April 1998, and despite repeated violent incidents, the agreement still stands out as a successful model of conflict resolution. On the contrary, calling off a peace process after an incident of violence is supported by both India and Pakistan. This has resulted as a wretched failure in statesmanship which both countries try to conceal from international forums.

The process of the Good Friday Agreement was based on inclusiveness. The success of this agreement is enthroned in its pattern phases- formal elections were held under an electoral system drawn up to determine negotiates and this resulted in a sincere attempt to make talks as inclusive as possible. It was based on sincere negotiations endorsed by a popular referendum finally accepted by the people of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It resulted in a permanent co-operation between both governments. It was also openly supported by the international community as it encouraged mutual respect, equality and peaceful means of peace reconciliation in the region. The most remarkable feature of this arrangement was the ubiquitous role of the respective leadership and it proved that leadership is an imperative variable star for any conflict resolution. It transferred the conflict from the streets to genuine debating chambers, and focused on constitutional aspirations. It draws upon equal power sharing and was durable, creative and competent enough to forge national interests to find an acceptable compromise.

There are lessons to learn for India and Pakistan. They could try to resist practices which suit their interests, design a valid democratic process rather than installing leaders directly. The most unfortunate part is that there is no evidence that India and Pakistan have followed any pattern or stages of implementation worth emulating in resolving the dispute. Starting a resolution and then ending up with a blame game, signing irrelevant pacts and empty talks cannot resolve any dispute. In Kashmir, there is only one concept of genuine leadership; self-determination. If India and Pakistan think that they have the competence to install leaders, then that unfortunately neglects the thousands of sacrifices rendered. Timing in any conflict resolution is very important which unfortunately is already passed for the people of Kashmir. Parties to a dispute try to negotiate only when they have a bargaining advantage. The bargaining advantage was higher in the early nineties than at present. Unlike India and Pakistan, the time factor is not an advantage to the people of Kashmir.

Belfast today is almost unrecognizable from the violent and incendiary place of two or three decades ago. An agreement like this could change the fate of Kashmir as well, where violence, oppression and psychological warfare have destroyed every facet of our society.


© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Month Of Melancholy


(Picture taken from Outlook Magazine)

[Also published on south Indian journal, Counter Currents]

[Also published on The Muslim Institute London]
http://musliminstitute.org/article.php?id=3499




It has been more than a month’s restriction in Kashmir. I’m writing in the morning, whilst birds chirping that melodic twitter, sedating tranquility. The frogs have stopped croaking. There is a flash of white on the grass. The sky is painted morning blue, and I can feel a cool breeze piercing my window, as I try to jot through my faculty of thinking.

About nineteen natives have been killed since the past month. It included young children and youth. It also included women and men, who were the lynchpins of their family. For us, life would move on, but for their sorrowing families, the struggle has just started. Kashmiri mornings are full of causerie, but will their mornings be peaceful? It would start with a suffocating silence which wouldn’t end till the night. Pain. Misery. Melancholy. Suffering; would be ruling their minds and hearts, and it won’t cleanse away easily.

Who knows how many times, those grievers would have cornered themselves, in that acute misery, murmuring sobs, hoping that their lost ones would return, but dead never return. They never come back. It’s hard to regain their presence. Not in this life, at-least. May God help them.

As days go by, the script of Kashmir’s misery reads like this – A school kid becomes a corpse, is one of the youngest tenants of the martyr’s graveyard. A woman, muttering through her window, observing a violent protest, down her alley, catches death with a haplessly fired canister. A youth goes to shop bakery, gets chased for life, a bullet pierces his flesh in front of his family, with a buzzing hiss. Protests gather momentum, bloodbath makes more kills. Mass media is banished to dump the truth. Pallbearers are assaulted for being pallbearers. Flag marches remind us of fascism in an unpolished democracy. Lowly compensations are granted to accept a dreadful fate. Is this a fair script for us? It has resulted in an ugly unrest with wailing mothers and hungry kids deprived of their mothers.
People stone-pelt due to deep anger and frustration. It's not an organised strategy. After throwing each lump of stone, they don't feel helpless. Their anger and frustrations should be resolved, and it shouldn't be glorified by these leaders, to avoid causalities of death, for the sake of peace and an effective resolution.

People have died on streets and their bodies have fallen, yet again. Still, the most common contradiction spread by Indian media is that the conflict economics is the root of the dispute. Economic stagnation can never substitute the cost of human rights abuse. Human dignity values much more than that. It’s victor in comparison. No Kashmiri would believe that economic packages would heal the suffering of Kashmiris. That would be further punitive. Kashmiris fight for identity. We want a long lasting political solution. Peace can be given by giving social justice and not by giving economic justice.

A phased dialogue, involving leaders, from all strands of political thought, is the need of the hour to restore peace in Kashmir. I do agree, its not right to emancipate any kind of violence, including stone pelting, but one has to resolve to adjudicate their anger & frustration, so that they wont feel relieved after throwing every lump of stone. Also, hapless leadership of National Conference is a party to their choler, because they have failed to address the grievances of the people, by not reaching out to them.

Indian influence came to Kashmir in phased stages, annexed by historic designs of National Conference. Right from independent Kashmir, to greater autonomy, to full exercise of the Indian constitution. All things which cant be morally justified, are ought to be not justified. Demilitarization, even giving 'greater or regional autonomy', to Kashmiris, will kick start the resolution. The concept of autonomy is rooted in Indian constitution. However, I believe, its not the final solution by any means, but it will surely initiate the resolution.

Very recently, there have been noises coming from New Delhi governing chambers, regarding the dilution of AFSPA, the most draconian law unleashed by the Indian Parliament, functional in Kashmir and in the North-East. This much hated law allows military personnels to kill with impunity, without any fear of a court trial - which if initiated, needs to have a permission from the central government to debrief or declare the offenders guilty. That's the reason, countless cases have been left unresolved. It has also been vexedly refuted by top human right protectionist bodies. I hope these noises become constructive, without getting adulterated with competing claims and political differences.

Hartaals and curfews are self-erosive and they will yield absolutely nothing, till some constructive efforts by the separatist main-stream, are initiated, with the support of New Delhi, Indian civil society & Kashmiri local administration; Pakistan also has a critical role to play.

The basic basis of our struggle are rooted in liberty and sovereignty of our land. People who believe in this, belong from different strata of our society, with different approaches to the struggle; our ways of protests would be different, but the right of self-determination is critical for emancipating our struggle, and this is the most kernel thought, completely valid and acceptable, under international norms. This natural association will always bind the leaders, people of our land together, for that cherished dream of freedom. It will serve as a tribute to all Kashmiris who died for Kashmir, whatever their ideology was, and a long lasting peace, perhaps, would be the biggest tribute to them.

That's why people should propose their hard-earned learning curves towards the future and enter collectively into a process of visionary introspection i.e to bring out an evolutionary model for an independent Kashmir.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir



Saturday, July 3, 2010

Solution is possible




[Also Published on Oped, Greater Kashmir, 3rd July, 2010]



At University of Oxford , the conflict resolution is described as, “nothing is resolvable and nothing is irresolvable.” Yet, the fatalities in Kashmir are fast reaching a six digit figure. Yet the levels of fatalities do not seem to stimulate a genuine peace process for both hostile neighbors. The history of Kashmir has not facilitated a resolution in the past and given the situation, is unlikely going to do so in future as well.

Without signing the ‘written affidavit’ of allegiance to both countries, no political institution is allowed to represent the aspirations of the people, which has been already eroded time and time again, due to lack of genuine representation. The present spatial attributes of resolution are clear- a relationship should continue to be based on centralized power structures from New Delhi and Islamabad. The current arrangement directly or indirectly predetermines the accession to Pakistan and India respectively. Several international independent analysts and agencies have stated that elections have never been held freely. At the same time, there have been no international amendments in practicality to bar these ‘ rig vote’ practices. Unlawful arrests, draconian laws, life-threatening emergency powers of Disturbed Area Act (DAA), Special Armed Forces Protection Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir and all versions of torture continue as natural laws. How do we expect a resolution possible or Kashmir to develop, when the conditions created are hostile for safety by both India and Pakistan? Humanitarian bodies like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International are already concerned about these levels of vehement violence and unethical draconian laws that have effected thousands of Kashmiri lives.

Endorsement of legal powers in accord with international conventions which safeguard rights-liberties and redistribute attributes of sovereignty is needed through genuine evolution from political actors of both countries. Post 1996, the ‘Azaadi sentiment’ has acquired a major role in ensconcing the dispute for the process of accommodation. But the biggest hindrance faced by the people is that the leaders have succeeded in evolving a ‘trait of flexibility’ for the fear of getting irrelevant. This has unfortunately created an environment of mistrust and social fragmentation.

The concept of ‘Azaadi’ should address Indian stands, Pakistani stands as well as Kashmiri stands through a tri-partisan solution by balancing the political, legal and social persuasions of the people. ‘Internal sovereignty’ is more important than concepts of autonomy and self rule. This is the main reason why many attempts regarding implementation of prevailing ideas have failed. An accomplishable resolution can be implemented through enabling an environment of phased demilitarization, revocation of all draconian laws, developing new prototype political structures, ceasefire between armed groups and Indian armed forces within the region, engagement of domestic armed groups in dialogue process and shared economic integration. Sadly, the State of India and Pakistan, both, have failed to genuinely address the issue so far because they have been provided a ‘liberty of multiple interpretations’.

The only substitute for dialogue is violence. Every day when these leaders delay talks, violence continues. The best method in decreasing level of violence is through peaceful negotiations. It is a long term concept for establishing peace. However, there have been no hints of an international intervention-their role has been resisted to mere spectators. Violence has badly dented the very essence of ‘Azaadi’ by hijacking our social domain. Leaders are slaves to the prevailing sentiment and have crossed all ideological extremes to facilitate an invalid democratic establishment. This is a harsh reality. Massive human rights violations have worsened the situation – even further.

There are lessons to learn for India and Pakistan. World has seen civilized means of resolution. Very recent of which has been ‘ The Good Friday Agreement’ which was designed in sound British political machinery where genuine negotiations replaced guns to resolve a political conflict over self determination. This arrangement ended a violent war between the British and the Irish and a resolution model like this could result as a success for Kashmir’s resolution.There have been various attempts by both countries to isolate Kashmiris in pursuit of a resolution which is unlikely going to succeed. There should be a joint solution which needs to be institutionalized.

Developed leaders from both sides unfortunately have been prisoners of their own rhetoric. There has been no genuine civilized interaction between the two countries. Wars have been fought, negotiations have been carried out, pacts have been signed, an armed movement is still on and yet a decisive outcome is still elusive.

In Kashmir, there is only one concept of genuine leadership. The concept which relies heavily on the right of self determination. It should be implemented according to the Articles drafted in [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR]

India & Pakistan could try to resist practices which suit their interests, design a valid democratic process rather than installing leaders directly. The most unfortunate part is that there is no evidence that India and Pakistan have followed any pattern or implementing stage worth emulating in resolving the dispute. because starting a resolution and then ending up with a blame game, signing irrelevant pacts and empty talks cannot ultimately yield anything.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

At war, I craved ice-cream

[Picture taken from Kashmir Life]


Tuesday was hot and stuffy. I was at home, where you find the simple, ingenuous feeling of happiness. The happiness of being close to the native soil, of inner freedom and sweet contemplation. However, this happiness was only confined to my house-lane. Kashmir was churning protests and curfew was imposed once again.

In utmost restrictions, I badly craved ice-cream. My free-will wanted to defy curfew. The decision was made. I slipped into the long, deserted street. Every shop was shuttered and every house in the vicinity didn't seem like a home. It was dead quiet. I saw a police van hovering and one person at his entrance, muttering in confusion. The whole scene didn't seem like a wicked fantasy, it was a reality, nevertheless. Kashmir seemed like a prison to me. I felt myself as a convict. I failed to shop and went back inside in gloom.

At night, I saw houses lit up, in dead silence and light flickered. A buddy had told me that it was not safe to go outside. My friend was right. I realized that late and felt lucky. Maybe, a bullet would have traveled from that van and hit me or maybe a tear gas would have landed nearby. The situation in a part of our neighborhood was grave. Two neighbors had done a similar thing and one had a gun stung on his back and one was whipped to infliction. Its so easy to die here. You never know, when death can capture you.

Many parts of Kashmir are boiling. Thousands have once again poured into streets to protest  barbarity. Eleven have been dead and several have been critically wounded since the last three weeks. A nine-year old kid has been sent to an early grave. A fifteen-year old teen was messed up with a tear gas canister. There should be no physical suffering endured on a peaceful protest. Every thrust of a gas shell or a bullet can leave a person dead, easily.

Human life is precious and essence of life must be protected and respected. They are unarmed protestors carrying no weapons. When these so-called security forces are eager to kill people in haste, people have no option but to reply back with lumps of stones and chunks of rocks. They force mourners to become mobs. If a similar protest happens in Jammu, they use water pumps to dislodge the crowd. Protesters there get a free shower and here people get fastball bullets. The attitude of Indian defense keepers and their policies vary extremely, when it comes to Kashmiris.

Kashmiris protest for a reason and those who protest follow an ideology and an institution of thoughts. Rebellions are subjects, containing considerate and thoughtful acts, led by aware and educated men. People here want an end to endless suffering through violence, that's why people protest. They don't protest to romanticise violence.

Kashmir would be a much better place if we have no sad men with green uniforms. That's the dilemma which the State of India can't solve, in-fact they're not even willing to admit their embarrassing mistakes. With every brutal killing, protests gather momentum to march and then Kashmir becomes an open prison; yet again it has been. It's a dilemma which only the the two countries can resolve.


At times, we forget about the war and at times, we don't, but those who die for justice live, always. That has been the story of Kashmir

© Naveed Qazi, Insights:Kashmir

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kashmir Through History









[Also published on Oped Page, Greater Kashmir, 12th June, 2010]





[Also published on Op-ed, Rising Kashmir, 12th June, 2011]



[Also published on Political Theatrics, 2nd August,2010 ]

[Also published on Counter Currents, 2nd August, 2010]

The IK Group




Our land, Kashmir, has been suffering in its darkest periods, since the last 400 years. Still, people fail to write a literal sentence on Kashmir because they are choked by inarticulate remembering, failure in resourcing valid history and lack of true belongingness.

Bookstalls have given me a feeling of disgust. Not many have written about us. People from every conflict zone have written their stories but there is lack of profoundity in our own telling because very few have passionately written about it. As a Kashmiri, it is a pain for me, as much as an absence of a beloved. People have to write about it, speak about it because it is a gut wrenching tale waiting to be told.

We have had various foreign rulers. The first usurpation came through Duglat tribes through Zogi La pass in January, 1533. Their 5000 cavalry looted, plundered Srinagar. Duglats went back in May, 1533. Naive people have no idea how much Kashmiris have suffered under the the Afghan rule of Abdali or under the Sikh rule. The Aghan rule was more of a tyrannical monarchy when it was passed to Abdali in 1752. In 67 years of their reign, they showed less signs of a passive administration. Grandeur conduct vanished in their time, which Kashmiris were renowned for.

The Chak rulers, the first homegrown powers, had an obsession to impose Shiah doctrines. They made full use of Shia-Sunni conflict to stay in power. Some pious saints like Qazi Musa (ra) were persecuted in their court. The self- respect of Kashmiris was greatly wounded which was the main reason of the Chak downfall. Sunnis, under leadership of Yaqub Sarfi (ra), a student of Makhdoom Sahib(ra), revolted which put Kashmir into agony and chaos.

There are no good stories about any conflict. There are only difficult, gloomy, unambiguous and unresolved stories. Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, made full use of this timeserving advantage, invaded Kashmir in December, 1585. Yusuf Shah Chak, the ruler of that time, tried to expel the Mughal might, but it was impossible to crush the aggression. Yusuf was a weak king, comparatively. He was finally sent to a remote prison in Bihar where he died of namelessness and isolation. Kashmir lost its sovereignty and independence back then. Kashmir was never free since Habba Khatoon started singing in the longing of her beloved. Somehow, people again preferred home grown Chaks to Mughals and Duglats, but it was too late. Kings were isolated and minds were repressed, even more.

It was Sikh colonization which was more misery per se. Gulab Singh, a tribal chief from Jammu, helped British by staying away from war in 1846. He in turn, got a price for it; he got Kashmir. The British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh for seventy five lakh rupees in 1846 which paved the way for Dogra rule till 1947. Even more suppression followed under the reign of his son, Pratap Singh. History says that only a few voices were were heared against the Kashmir sell off, due to dominating suppression. With the result, brave writers like Thorpe were silenced, before their voice could have been critical.

Heroes like Robert Thorpe & Maqbool Butt fought against forced beggary, ruthless taxation and deaths due to overexerted labor. Dying as a martyr and recounting a story about your land is a priceless special service. That's an irony because the sacrifices rendered were one of a kind; no one can count how many died for Kashmir. Its a tale of rebellion, which is more than a century old and suppression still dominates.

India achieved freedom on 15th August, 1947 from the British, but fate of some princely states was left undecided. In 1940's, Sheikh Muhammmed Abdullah, a popular figure arose among the masses. He spoke eloquence. He talked about land to tiller, civil rights and liberty in authoritarian 'Lincoln' style. Sheikh Sahib achieved immense popularity among the masses. Thousands waited and wanted to hear him. He was seen as a prime hope. Sheikh Sahib , along with Maharaja Hari Singh, sought time to decide the fate of Kashmir. Maharaja signed a conditional deed of accession with India, which gave Kashmiris a greater autonomy. Sheikh Abdullah, close ally of Nehru, supported him. However, things turned ugly in October 1947, when North-West Frontier tribes stormed into Kashmir. The invasion was sponsored by Pakistan Army. The war was stopped when UN interfered. UN model gave Kashmiris a right of plebiscite and supported a truce-line between the two countries which is known as the LOC (Line of Control).

Things radically changed some years after. Sheikh Sahib, the Lion of Kashmir, was caged in 1953 when he gave boisterous utterances of an independent Kashmir. India, in the meantime, installed stooge like leaders which degraded the 'greater autonomy' status which Kashmir had. After twenty years of imprisonment, Shiekh Sahib stopped roaring and gave up for what he stood for. He compromised the right of plebiscite and went on with full affiliation with the State of India. The epic image of Shiekh Sahib was questioned by the masses. Sheikh Sahib now turned Shiekh Abdullah. In his rule, people didn't suffer from acts of vehement violence but were subjected to a psychological suffering of despair.

From mid-nineteen eighties, people saw was a decade of frequent arbitrary arrests, disappearances, killings, loss of property, unmarked graves, rapes, torture; it has dominated Kashmir. I heard, Srinagar, at that time was a city of protests, massacres, pallbearers and mourners. Bloodbath, cross firing on streets, in houses and yet more killings and mournings. Peoples war with India had started. Thousands have been laid to rest in ordered rows. Kashmir even has empty graves waiting for vanished dead.


Two decades later, the people of Kashmir decided stone as a weapon to show their resentment about the prevailing political arrangement than Ak-47, in the nineties'. After every killing, or a disappearance, or a failed public policy, protests gather momentum, and stone pelting has becomes a mode of a frustration vent, and less of an organised strategy - a lie circulated by the media. The people have went back to stone age, because they want the world to know, that holding Kashmiris hostage to suppression, violates accepted forms of political and humanitarian liberty.

If civil disobedience is massive, a curfew is imposed to tackle the protesters. If it isn't threatening, it is curbed easily by excessive force- Both ways, curfews and hartals in Kashmir seem directly proportional to each other. That has also resulted in a self-erosion in our society, sometimes, hartaals and curfews have continued for months, which has affected students, self-employed people and low key workers, failing to earn to feed their families.

 The Indian mainstream politicians, on the other hand, have been are slaves to Indian political theories, uncompromising and over zealous, ready to fight for their Indian causes. To conclude, we have had knavish politicians here, speaking lies about killings, war and peace but the truth lies there : we haven't won but we can't be defeated.

There are reminders about disappeared on every street. You could find women and men, holding placards, with dismayed faces. Many missing people are believed to be killed in fake encounters and custody, some even have been dumped in prisons. People who were taken never returned. Those who returned were never the same. Government even has refused to install any Truth Commission. Some have given up hope and some and some are fighting for justice even now, hoping that their loved ones would return.

Thousands of dejected lot of women, have been molested by the security forces. The State home department, have no such robust record of abuses, which have been proved by Medicins Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This unspeakable humiliation, at the hands of the security forces, has motivated women to sustain the secessionist movement, even now.

Anytime, a body is found, government tries biotechnology, exhumes a body and more anxiety returns. You never know who the person would be. A family only hopes that it shouldn't be their kin. Government, in turn, offers a monetary compensation but it can't compensate a son.

I often think that whether we could have really changed our history. What if our conflict wouldn't have turned out this ugly and fatal? What if our history wasn't so tragic? What if there would have been no armed struggle? What if India & Pakistan both would have genuinely talked and avoided thousands of deaths? What if UN resolutions didn't seem like miserable failures? But this never happened, only savagery followed.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir