Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Instrument of Accession

Also published on Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Out of 565 princely states, the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a unique position before the partition. It had a history of Hinduism, with a majority Muslim population. In the ‘Memorandum on States, Treaties and Paramountcy,’ it was stated that the status which the princely states enjoyed would lapse at independence.

Morris Jones, a Constitutional Advisor of Mountbatten further stated: “The void which would be created due to absence of relations with princely states would have to be filled either by a federal relationship or by ‘particular political arrangements’ (International Affairs, Legacy of Mountbatten, 1983, p.624).” In his memoirs, he ascertains that the most favoured treatment for the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir was the referendum received by the Frontier States.  Unfortunately, his consultative advice didn’t get any compelling recognition because it was put forward in the political turbulence of Kashmir’s October Revolution, and at a time when his viceroy status was getting retired.

The status of Jammu & Kashmir was increasingly debated in the circles of Indian National Congress and was continuously hijacked by Nehru’s increasing pertinence to keep it with the Dominion of India - Nehru and his close associates wanted to see a failure in Jinnah’s two nation theory. He was a non-conformist spectator for his Hindu-Muslim unity at the Lahore Resolution, 1940, and uncanny to his Pakistan that was thoroughly secular, dwelled by a Muslim majority.

On 25th October, 1947 Menon tried to persuade Maharaja Hari Singh like a cat’s paw. He made Maharaja sign a provisional accession and at once returned to Delhi. In arduous meetings with Sardar Patel, it was decided that a plebiscite would be held once the law and order situation improved.  In a letter on 27th October accepting the Maharaja’s accession, Mountbatten further reconfirmed that if in case the instrument of accession was disputed in any interpretations, the final decision of the territory would be decided according to the will of the people.

When Prime Minster, Mahajan heard that 700 troops had landed to Srinagar on 27th, he flew with Menon to Jammu, to get signatures of certain supplementary documents about accession. However, the official claims about these developments dispute the individual interpretations. On October 26, writes Alaister Lamb, ‘it is at this point that the hitherto established narrative divergences dramatically from facts.’

According to Victoria Schofield, Maharaja left Srinagar in the early hours of the morning of 26 October, or as Mahajan confirms, at 2 am. She further states: “The journey at night between Srinagar and Jammu could be expected to take sixteen hours. The Maharaja finally reached Jammu the next evening, 27th October, recalls Karan Singh. But Menon states that on the evening of 26 October, he was back in Delhi meeting with the Defense Committee. When therefore he would have met the Maharaja on 26th October?”

In a much quoted passage, Lappiere and Collins relate how Symon, an acting British High Commissioner in Delhi, sat down to have a drink, ‘an enormous smile’ spread across Menon’s face. Then he pulled a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and waved it gaily towards the Englishman. “Here it is,” he said. “We have Kashmir. The bastard signed the Act of Accession. And now that we have got it, we will never let it go.”

Whether accession was signed before or after the intervention of Indian troops in Srinagar, Maharaja was prompt about Mountbatten’s version of advices that resulted from the clauses of accession. Alaister Lamb states: “The presence of Indian troops in Srinagar before the accession weakens the Indian claim on Kashmir’s soil, including the circumstances necessary in holding a plebiscite. It also enabled India to reject the simultaneous demilitarisation from both sides. Why was the Instrument of Accession not published in the 1948 White Paper?” It would certainly have been a documentary jewel in India’s Kashmiri crown, further postulates, Alaister Lamb, who completely doubts the authenticity of accession dated and signed by Maharaja and Mountbatten, which appears in Sardar Patel’s edited correspondence, published in 1971. “There the matter must rest until fresh documents surface to justify a firmer verdict one way of the another," Lamb claims.

Joseph Korbel narrates that the biggest hindrance to Kashmir’s rational resolution at the time was absence of any United Nations consultative status, and no one suggested in getting in touch with the Pakistani Government in Karachi.

The roots of the Kashmir dispute are deep, concluded the third and final report of UNCIP, which made three visits to the subcontinent between 1948 and 1949. It is a historical fact that Nehru wanted to annex Kashmir by ousting Maharaja and installing Sheikh Abdullah, but which individual, what state, can win the  basic arguments over sovereign rights drafted in the instrument:

“Nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future consultation  with India…(Clause 7)”

“Nothing in this Instrument affects the continuance of my sovereignty in and over this  State…(Clause 8)”

Andrew Whitehead (London) writes in his blog: “Perry Anderson says that Kashmir became a part of India with a forged accession,’ and the document disappeared for ‘over half a century.’ Not quite. The maharaja of Kashmir was pushed to joining India by an invasion of Pakistan and there is little doubt that he signed the instrument of accession. A facsimile of the page was published more than forty years ago, and the entire document was posted on the India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. However, when I sought permission to consult the original, I was told – it would be nice if the play on words would be intentional  - that the Indian government had ‘not acceded’ to my request.

There is certainly something fishy about the circumstances of the accession. The evidence is compelling that the maharaja signed on 27 October, but was told to record the date as October 26. In other words, he put his name to the document a few hours after India began an airlift of troops to the Kashmir valley (the beginning of military presence that continues to this day), but in a manner which suggested it had been signed before the military operation began.”

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Maneuvers before acession

Also published on Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Death and destruction were fast approaching Srinagar, our smug world had collapsed around us, the wheels of destiny had turned full circle,’ writes Karan Singh on October, 1947 (Heir Apparent, p.57) - while the war of words went on between Government of Pakistan and princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, the dominion of India guaranteed moral and political support to the besieged Maharaja. Here, it becomes very important to analyse the situation through political commentators that lead to the maneuvers for accession in later time.

The revolt of Poonch in Spring of 1947 had angered religious sentiments because the Maharaja had insisted his disapproval on‘no tax campaigns.’ Richard Symonds, a social worker with a group of British Quakers working in Punjab wrote: ‘There was tax on every hearth and every window. Every cow, buffalo and sheep was taxed, and even every wife. Dogra troops were billeted on the Poonchis to enforce the collection (Korbel, Danger in Kashmir, p.68).’

Victoria Schofield, in ‘Kashmir In Conflict, (2010)’ writes : ‘The general belief amongst Pakistanis was that the tribesmen were incited to a ‘Holy War’ by stories of pogroms and atrocities by the Dogras, which were brought to them by fleeing Muslims to the streets of Peshawar.’ Tribal volunteers were supported by petrol and grains by the chief minister of the North West Frontier Province, Khan Abdul Qayum Khan. The tribesmen were aggressive people. Prior to independence, British maintained cold relations with them through paying off subsidies to the chiefs. The tribesmen were inhabitants of tribal territories bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When Muslim rebels of Poonch saw same weaponry in the hands of Hindus and Sikhs, communal tensions grew. Maharaja, in turn, passed an order to massacre the rebels. This made Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan organise an army of 50,000 against the Maharaja’s army. Even the creation of India and Pakistan on 14-15 August brought no ease to the already chaotic situation.

Pakistani sympathisers were not impressed by the overtures of Maharaja that lead to political developments against the Dominion. An activist, Sardar Abdul Qayum Khan from Rawalkot said the following lines, as defense for an organised Muslim rebellion, during the tragic days of partition: ‘Against the declared Standstill Agreement, the Maharaja had started moving his troops along the river Jehlum. It was an unusual movement which had never happened before and I could see that it had a purpose of sealing off the border with Pakistan. In order to thrawt the plan, we rose up to arms (Interview in Islamabad, March, 1994).’

Jammu Massacre of Muslims were systematic pogroms, and its proximity to the plains of India made circumstances easy for communal hatred that swept places like Punjab and Bengal. Horace Alexander wrote: ‘The Maharaja’s government used Dogra troops to terrorise many Muslim villages in the neighbourhood of Jammu. Later in the year, I myself saw villages near Jammu that had been completely gutted (Alexander, Kashmir, p.7).’

Newspapers were abuzz during partition that make important references to Jammu & Kashmir conflict. Ian Stephens, editor of ‘The Statesman (Calcutta), noted the situation in Jammu: ‘Unlike every part of the State, Hindus and Sikhs slightly outnumbered Muslims, and within a period of about 11 weeks, starting  in August, systematic savageries….practically eliminated the entire Muslim element in the population, amounting to 50,000 people. About 200,000 just disappeared, remaining untraceable, having presumably been butchered or dead from epidemic or exposure. The rest fled to West Punjab (Pakistan, 1963, p.200).’ It was also reported on various newsprints that these atrocities had been perpetrated not only by uncontrolled bands of hooligans but also by organised units of Maharaja’s army and the Police. This made political developments difficult to control. Therefore, we come to analyse that Maharaja’s rebellions against no tax campaigns ultimately lead to devastation of many villages and persecution of thousands of his rebelling subjects that concerned the Pakistani Dominion and turned Maharaja’s administration into a frightful situation, seeking external mediation for preservation of his unpopular and crude feudal power.

My above statement can be clarified as I quote ‘The Pakistan Times’, that reported on 27th September: ‘the metalling of the road from Jammu to Kathua is also proceeding at top speed. The idea is to keep up some sort of communication between the State and the Indian Union, so that essential supplies and troops could be rushed to Kashmir without having them to transport through Pakistani territory (Bhattacharjea, Wounded Valley, p.177).’ There was also a boat bridge that was being constructed over the Ravi river, which connected many parts of Gurdaspur in Punjab. There were also reports that Kashmir government was constructing an all-weather linking road that connected Kashmir with Jammu via Poonch instead of Banihal road which was not passable in winter. In Pakistan, it was widely believed that India was preparing an accession of Kashmir to its dominion in autumn. Indian postal services in Kashmir started the argument. India, on the other hand, believed that Pakistan would cross into the State in winter.’ Nehru, in an emotional talk with Patel, believed that it was better to friend Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, most importantly Sheikh Abdullah, and had hoped to persuade Mahajara, to join India, with whom, he had no cordial relations at that time.

On September 29, Abdullah, who had been in prison since his Quit Kashmir movement in 1946, was released from jail. His letter pledging allegiance to the Maharaja was widely published. But he also repeated his pro-independence rhetoric. Was this rhetoric only to oust feudalism of the same Maharaja or was it for the future statehood of Kashmir with the Dominion of India? It was for the latter. Here, I recount the lines of Sheikh Abdullah: ‘ When I went into prison, I took a last look at the undivided India. Today, it has been broken into two fragments. We the people of Kashmir must now see to it that our long cherished dream is fulfilled. The dream of freedom, welfare and progress (Speech at Hazuri Bagh, 2 October, 1947, in Flames, p.86).’ These lines of history do narrate to me that peoples real sovereignty was overlooked for a political party’s ideology, and for the same feudal Maharaja who enjoyed a constitutional position. Muslim League leaders and private armies were also sidelined from any political consultations. Standstill agreement acted as a barrier to force Kashmir to accede to Pakistan. 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Friday, December 14, 2012

Education Disparities in Kashmir

Also published on Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Kashmiri people in pursuit of education have ventured out to different countries. Most popular countries of them include United Kingdom, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, United States, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. In pursuit of  better job prospects, higher industrial exposure and reputed qualifications, many of our Kashmiri youth have realized that it’s no longer good to confine themselves to universities in India or in Kashmir itself because the amount of tuition fee for many popular courses,the lack of modern curriculum, the less brand equity of universities in Kashmir and very high competition amongst students for competitive courses have made matters very stressful for Kashmiri students.

Many Kashmiri students have developed this psychological tendency of studying outside of Kashmir due to emulations for a better future. We have universities, we have degree conferments, we have able professors, but what we lack is the ‘brighter future’ for students starting from the school level to the university level education. We also lack high class infrastructure that we find in the universities abroad. The tier of ‘non-professional’ degree courses namely BSc, BCom and BA which maximum number of Kashmiri students adhere to, have a very low demand in the domestic recruitment sector. The professional degree courses like B.E, M.E, BBA, MBA, BCA, MCA, MBBS and MD are rooted in high competition and merit, where very few qualify. For them, some placements get opened up through local banks, hospitals, some IT firms and manufacturing departments in the government or private sector, but the overall position of employment in Kashmir is very appalling. The reason for that is simply the stagnation in job generation due to lack of proper infrastructure. We also need financial investments from outside of Kashmir and domestic investments through local private companies and entrepreneurs, but the structure of our legal constitution, the militarized borders and the political bankruptcies, have directly impacted the outcomes of degrees conferred upon these upcoming graduates, because they have lesser means to work here, or prosper for that matter.

Emancipation through education is one of the most important component a nation could have to elevate generations, but it has always been a problem in Kashmir. We, as a community, also lack  intellectual activities. Whenever I surf newspapers online, be it Karachi, London or Delhi, I witness a reading routine on these online forums, and a sense of reasoned criticism. Community libraries are very few and desolated without readers. Why are the chambers in our universities not focusing on all core issues like these? Then how will we be implementing good?

One of the primal problems in Kashmir is improvement of education standards and the need of converting this unemployed youth to work, with proper infrastructure through economic prosperity. These tentative suggestions are very easy to write, but in reality, it takes years or even decades to emancipate people via passionate and responsible leadership through imparting education and by giving them welfare through jobs and gratuities. Why can’t our politicians try and start now?

During the last seven to eight years, a large pool of graduates have gone to study post graduate studies in the west.  Some of them have even produced lucrative careers in Middle East and other countries. With the advent of post study work route in United Kingdom (a scheme that has been scrapped now), many Kashmiri students used to earn a living or achieve some kind of work experience for two years, to launch a successful job in the years to come.

After returning from my post graduate studies from England, I began to retrospect what I learned in my college days here and what I learnt abroad. My experience was more than satisfactory and exceeded expectations. First of all, I started to realize that aptitude development and its encouragement carries outmost importance in a western education system. Competitive exams for entering into degrees are not mandatory in most of the courses, and admission is mostly granted on high school grades. The research content, presentations, case study analysis, lab work and group debates carry equal weightage as written examinations. In fact, these entire elements together make up the overall grading criteria, whether at bachelors or at masters level. Even open book written examinations are encouraged where a student is expected to carry significant research to answer questions in theoretical exams. There are research database servers that connect hundreds of British universities, which are loaded with newsletters, journals, newspapers and eBooks that make study a bliss for researchers. Group or individual presentations go even up to 45 minutes in some universities, especially in post graduate studies, with a less researched topic. The other thing which I learned was the need of cultural adaption while progressing on a specific group project – at the end, a student benefits from these advantages only when they study in a multi-cultural environment and in countries where imparting education is not done for business, but for cross cultural global interests.

The other important thing to remove education disparities in Kashmir, apart from increasing readership and intellect on various cacophonies surrounding us, is institutionalizing a debate culture right from schools to universities. Our study of history is hijacked by bias. Young students should be exposed more to debating on societal, philosophical, religious or even political issues that are surrounding their lives, apart from academic and extra-circular activities. It will help the students especially from schools to nurture pathways of their future careers. The above suggestions may sound idealistic because there are places in our land where there is not even a proper infrastructure for schools and colleges, but well established institutions should start this practice, in order to develop some kind of efficiency. They should scout investments. Why should Kashmiris stagnate on crude policies implemented by these non-progressive oligarchs leading us?

If there needs to be an education reform in Kashmir, policy makers should realize the need for quality inflation on the so called ‘non-professional courses’. It is ironic that ‘honours degrees’ haven’t been a reality in Kashmir since decades and there is no consultancy on the need for introducing various specialisms’s at the bachelors or masters level. Virtual learning is not preferred to traditional lectures in most of the functioning courses in universities. Why don’t our educationists learn from more civilized countries? And if universities in Kashmir introduce international student exchanges, or rapid industrial exposures, it will be a stepping stone in institutionalizing international cultural interactions.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kashmir's Graffiti Art

Also published on Columns, The Kashmir Walla and Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Graffiti’s are colourful products of creativity, stenciled and sprayed on walls. This inscribed artistry showcases the ruminations of injustice in various forms. It fathoms art into reality, by agitations caused within a creative mind. In Kashmir, we encounter slogans written on walls and archaic stones through coal and paint. ‘We Want Freedom’, ‘I Protest’ or ‘Azaadi’ have been reminders of enslavement in different forms, as a means to protest against the occupation. However, it cannot be called as a graffiti art in the real sense. These are plain writings on the walls and just a means of guerilla campaigning of Kashmir’s conflict. They are not sophisticated graphic imageries. Our vale seriously needs to evolve into intellectual, societal and ideological ascensions, in order to develop this art in its real sense. Let’s learn something from expert artists of Britain, from Australia, and why shouldn’t we?

When we talk of conflict zones, graffiti carries a legacy behind art, against indignity and oppression. They reflect the wounds of war, and impute sufferings. In places like Palestine, artists have even used graffiti art as a tool for liberation struggle, ever since the intifadah of 1970’s and 1980’s. Yes, it does reflect societal troubles, but Kashmir seriously needs to transform this street art to enlightenment in various forms, through inspiring graphics - but for all this, we need a brigade of artists who can devote time to this exercise. We also need free spaces which don’t offend the habitants or public sentiment in general.

In Middle East, Egypt emerged as a street art capital in 2011, according to New York Times, with motifs calling an end to the Mubarak regime. The street art from Yemen, Egypt, Libya has also got popularity, which was eventually showcased in Madrid’s Casa Arabe recently. These developments signify strong anarchist elements in street art in recent times. In Kashmir, this trend has just recently started. A previous report on a popular online magazine, had reported on some upcoming graffiti artist group, El-Horiah. These band of boys have started the exercise on similar lines, by drawing popular street art images, like of Banksy – a man throwing flowers from hands instead of stones and some other amateur expressions, inspired from the recent stir in Arab lands. These artistries do include humanist and tolerant forms of expression from our society, but we still have a long way to go. Personally, when I used to travel in trains in Britain, or walk the streets near my tenancy, some artwork used to awe struck me due to the competence in imagination - the stroke of colours, its variance, the fusion, the lustre, the calligraphy finally climaxing into beautiful poetic messages, all used to retrospect my thinking back to my homeland. I cherished something on similar lines in my vale, not just about freedom, but also about a reflection of an intellectual renaissance around the alleys of Srinagar and beyond.

If Graffiti art needs to evolve in Kashmir, we need to merge it with our cultural history, language, new influences and hobbies. We have our own heritage, and for that we need to fecund our intellect. Graffiti art can be revolutionary as well, as a form of cultural evolution. The tradition was given a pulse in 1920’s by Mao Zedong himself, the emancipator of China, who painted the longest piece of graffiti at that time, of over 4000 characters long, criticising teachers and the state of Chinese society at that time.

Marxism and revolutionary slogans have a history of cordial noetic impulses. They represent valours of change against class degeneration of the poor, and against the decrees of the regnant elite. In Kashmir, feudalism and subjugation of farmers was a cause which leaders like Sheikh Abdullah, Maqbool Butt and others crusaded against in their leadership, writings and speeches. Today, these liberated farmers sing the laurels of their harvest in villages. Kashmiri people have their own idioms and phrases, the moral sayings, which can have a potential to reform this generation, back to the cultural epochs in these times. All these traditions can be transformed into art. For that, our newer generation needs not only to learn from the past, but also needs to implement brilliant creativity for the genesis of this movement.

Let’s talk about the famous ‘Murals of Ireland’- the wall-paintings are country’s legacy of the past political turmoil. Tourists all over the world assemble in Belfast every year and other cities to experience the past reactions against para - militarism and societal discord. Ireland is regarded as a heritage of conflict and so is Kashmir. The only difference is that we don’t have world renowned revolutionary art on streets.

In Tunisia, many graffiti artists have even drawn verses of the Quran on the walls. El-Seed, a French Tunisian artist used graffiti art to fight religious extremism during the times of revolution. Kashmir, which has a history of Islam that propagated humanity and tolerance at various stages, can also make similar engagements. Old folklores of Kashmir, the sayings of medieval saints are still committed to memory in the minds of our older generation. Artists can also use quotes from Islamic history, from religious scholars, or stanzas of European or Arab poets etc., that can be arranged inside the graffiti art, but that art should invoke praise from the society, due to the nature of its sheer brilliance. Mere amateur paintings can no way attract attention like the Murals in Ireland. Our generation can tap this talent through practice, through research or just recognising the passion for spraying professional graffiti 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kashmir's Geo-Strategic Position

Also published on viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Kashmir is gifted with strategic leverages for emerging nations. That’s why, it’s is a vale of caged aspirations. The current geo strategic position for Kashmir is dictated by three emerging nations, which are bred with Secular, Islamic and Communist ideologies.

Kashmir is a mountainous valley and is surrounded by a hilly and mountainous terrain. The land of Jammu, Muzafarabad, Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh constitute an area of highlands. They border Pakistan, Afghanistan, Xinjiang, and some parts of Chinese administered Tibet. Kashmir also has proximity to Central Asian Republics. With the nature of increased arm strengths developed by India, Pakistan and China, the geo strategic position of Jammu and Kashmir continues to get importance.

Throughout history, all the political changes that have occurred outside of Kashmir, have had a direct strategic impact on the territorial integrity. The wars of foreigners throughout centuries intensified the geo-strategic influence of Kashmir in the years to come. History tells us that Mughals, Afghans, Duglats all wanted to create Kashmir its own vassal. Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim administrations created a direct and conflicting impact, on the preceding religions, as the new religious affairs affected the beliefs of the people of the non-ruling faiths. It, therefore, created a need by liberal kings and just rulers to create a culture of secularism, where all people enjoyed interdependence. So, Kashmir created its own ethno nationality and regional patriotism. It was called Kashmiriyat – a blend of Kashmiri Shavism and Kashmiri Sufism of Muslims, where Hindu clergies and Muslim saints played a crucial role.

The Czarist Empire of Russia also induced more strategic importance to the problem of Kashmir, in context of European power structures, because of Czarist Russia’s growing power in Central Asian regions, and their proximity to the territories of India. After the partition of India and Pakistan, Kashmir came into existence as a grievous conflict. When British sold the land to the Dogras, dramatic changes occurred and it had impedance on the newly created culture, as Kashmir had weak political institutions and military designs. The British and the Dogra reached a deal with a sale of the land for 75 lakh rupees. Strategically, the Sikh rulers created Kashmir as a buffer state between the north western Muslim frontiers of India.

The onset of Cold war and the settlement of Communist regime in China, in 1949, also enhanced the strategic importance to Kashmir. The Americans also wanted to crush the growing Communist influence of Soviet Russia, after the fall of Czar Monarchs. They joined hands with Pakistan and even established their military base in the country. Initially, Taliban in Afghanistan were taken as allies, to fight Soviet power, and when they unleashed a reign of terror in their own country, they fought them back. Contrarily, Communist ideology had influence on Afghans in universities. They encouraged schools, more freedom to women, but all these factors were downplayed by the west, just to establish a presence in the region. In terms of geo strategic interests at that time, Afghanistan and Kashmir shared and encouraged rising fundamentalist Khalifah supremacy. All these factors not only ousted liberality and harmony of Kashmiri people, but it also suppressed them. Kashmir thus became an orbit of fundamentalism, with Kabul as a harsh silk route to growing tensions.

Pakistan’s interests in Kashmir due to geographical and religious contiguities, has also concerned India, and has helped them to enhance Indian military power. It has given them reasons to make their presence felt in Kashmir. The cold war established difficulties to India and ease to Pakistan, due to successful negotiations and relationships of Pakistan, with western superpowers, in order to grow western influences in the region. Due to increased stockpiles of weaponry and strong military presence, both countries even fought wars with each other to annex Kashmir. Strategically, Kashmir became a reason for a nuclear flash point for both the countries.

Strategic alliances of Pakistan and China in connecting Gilgit with China through links in Abbotabad and Muree also gave increasing complexities to India in recent times. The Chinese also entered some areas of Jammu & Kashmir due to their problems with the Macmohan Line in 1962. They illegally occupied the Aksaichin plateau of Ladakh, and even constructed roads to connect Sinkiang provinces with Lassa in Tibet. These strategic interests posed a direct problem to the historic sovereignty of Kashmir, as all these superpowers in the region namely China, India and Pakistan have had interests in the region. The reason for their strategic importance is Kashmir’s beautiful location, its majestic mountains, rich water resources, a huge resource of forests, minerals, herbs, and highly fertile arable lands. Kashmir can also become a successful military base for any emerging superpower.

As ‘war on terror’ by rightists unleashed in Afghanistan through United States and its allies, it paved the way for a coup and ousted Taliban’s rule. It did help in reinstating democracy, but it also won a reincarnated support from the neighbouring tribals in Pakistan. With the result, it destabilised Pakistani politics due to militant extremism, as now secular democracy was seen hostile to Muslim Sharia or for an Islamic Republic. The armed insurgency in Kashmir, with trainers of militants inside Pakistan, were crushed or weakened for that matter, by their Indian counterparts in the valley. Furthermore, the ever growing political problem in Balouchistan, the human rights violations done there by Pakistani Army and ISI’s increased surveillance on its dissidents and leaders, further made Kashmir’s solution prone to failures, because a stable Pakistan and a committed India has been the only peaceful requirement  for Kashmir’s resolution.  

In recent years, Obama also promised a mediator for Kashmir, in his first Presidential campaign, but it also turned out as a gimmick because of his country’s increased ties with India for economic and political bargains. A weakening Pakistan today is regarded as an irritant in United States political chambers, as they believe only outside mediation will dilute terrorism. Assassination of Bin Laden in Pakistan has given a stronger reason for this exercise. But, at the same time, it has been such an insincere stance by the west, by not intervening in the Kashmir issue. They can mingle in Pakistan’s political problems, but cannot provide outside endorsement of settlement for the Kashmir dispute, through diplomacy.

Leaders in Pakistan who believe in self-reliance and self-negotiations are looked down upon by western powers. All these strategic developments are taking the Kashmir issue on the back seat. Many nationalist leaders of Kashmir have even called for European Union’s consideration for future mediations, but it seems that no country in the world dares to fish into troubled waters, as they believe it will have detrimental effects in South Asian politics, or even world politics for that matter. Kashmir is like Palestine for western powers. They just want to increase the ties with the oppressors. If western powers or United Nations really care for the justice written in the tenets of their republics or charters, then resolving conflict zones is the best solution for world prosperity. But why would they do that, if strategic interests are given a preference for innocent aspirations?

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kashmir and Militarism

Also published on Opinion, Rising Kashmir

Kashmir is like an open prison. The people are captives of caged aspirations. On roads, the convoys of armies look like caravans of modern warfare. Their ammunitions a grave scourge. Militarisation has been cruel to a civil way of life in Kashmir because people have seen raging soldiers lingering around block after block. Kindness is gone from the land, the truth has been tortured and people still continue to get humiliated. 

It is said that there was a time when 35th Rastriya Rifles used to give ‘cash for corpses incentive scheme’ to its battalion members, through which even innocents have been killed, because no one was asked who the gunman fired. Today, India claims itself to be the world’s largest democracy. It takes pride in its written constitution, its secularity, the promised reforms to economic prosperity, but acts as a rogue state when nationalism becomes a preferred doctrine to subdue the oppressed craving for liberation - it holds true for the poor working class of farmers, the tribals, who with the result of impoverished poverty have waged a war through guerilla warfare against the Indian army, in distant lands where economic development, education and a happy life seems as a distant dream. It also holds true for the Kashmiri masses, who have been entangled in a cyclical form of totalitarianism through force after each mass protest.

In the last sixty years, Kashmir has seen birth of armed insurgencies and secessionist institutions inspired by religious and secular nationalism. It has seen in numerous martyrdoms of youth whose blood has been spilled through Palestinian Arab inspired resistance of stones – The new eastern intifadah. During turbulent times, Kashmir is reduced to deserted streets due to exaggerated fear. When Kashmir is locked for months, even buying essential commodities becomes an arduous task. A whole generation has lost family members, either killed or disappeared with no official records. Unmarked graves run into thousands in Kashmir, which are only researched by international humanitarian organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and local research centres like Association of Parent of Disappeared Persons and International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir. The Indian government pays no heed to all these tragic developments. All these problems are direct offshoots of militarism.

Today, wars have left every country bereft. It has laden every continent, be it Europe, Latin America, Africa or Asia. In Kashmir, violence has run unabated towards its people as well. Militarism has represented a threat to regional integration and to its ethno national social consciousness.

When we go back to the European history, militarism was seen as an instrument of social restructuring, a prerogative to achieve a higher status. In Greece, joining military reflected bravery. British achieved nobility by joining military. The Americans joined military to achieve respect. It was a means for class inflation. Mostly, countrymen joined military due to patriotism, exaltation of military virtues and ideals. However, militarism in the world today has acquired a different meaning. Primacy of nationalism creates an advent of conflicts, and that’s the reason why militarism today is taken in a negative sense. Today, many activists and academia believe that wars are natural consequences of extreme forms of nationalism.

Oscar Wilde once called blind nationalism as the trait of the vicious. The lines do hold significance for neo fascist states.  It is primarily because of the excesses of human right violations done due to militarism world over. In Kashmir, the fatality figures run into hundreds of thousands which even dispute the official records. These realities have transformed Kashmir into a serious conflict zone. The Indian state has taken Kashmir in a larceny, after it promised a referendum to its people once the provisional accession was signed by Indian authorities with the Maharaja during the partition era. Since then, both countries have installed military establishments, divided our lands, separated families, and have created an ambiance of hostility towards each other. Therefore, militarisation has resulted in adverse effects in Kashmir, just like in other conflict zones.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calls India as the largest importer of arms between the year 2007 and 2011. The whole weaponry business has resulted in a thirty seven percent increase. In the next decade itself, the country plans to invest around hundred billion dollars’ worth of weapons. The country is buying arms and ammunitions, improving technology and sharing diplomatic ties with many pivotal defense exporters like United States and Germany. Military strategists are even pressing the governments in power to modernise its army. These initiatives will further rarify the political developments needed for the settlement process. It will even increase the scope of war outbreaks, will further penalise the obedience to UN resolutions, and will neglect peace due to conflicting bilateralism. The vale is already the most militarised zone in the world. People live amongst barbed wires, frisking, bunkers, searches, curfews, and interrogations in a mundane routine. A former princely state, the valley is now coined as a disputed legacy between India and Pakistan, where a resolution seems elusive even after sixty five years.

In the troubled times of today, wars against the state have been reduced to innumerable corpses. George Orwell, the eminent British journalist, rightly believed that totalitarianism is a disease to governance. After seeing the illusions of Spanish Civil War, he believed most revolutions to overthrow tyranny have been lost in a desert of immoral consciousness.

 In India, the role of state has grown inequitably stronger due to nationalistic ideals. Kashmir is India’s most volatile occupation. It is due to the fact that leaders in the valley hold a politics of variance. Some leaders affirm to debate and some glorify violence. India and Pakistan, despite given warnings by UN resolutions, have failed to arrive at any solution. Contrarily, both countries have imposed its own machinery, and insured it with military power. Kashmir is inured into bloodshed. 

  • © Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Monday, October 22, 2012

The path that Kashmiri leaders should take

Also published on viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Kashmir has been a place where our political history is like a conundrum for India and Pakistan where clashes of ideologies occur due to primacy of nationalism. For Kashmir, imposed foreign nationalism has been a dangerous trend – this nationalism is a doctrine where India and Pakistan dictates to us that their respective national culture should be superior to our culture, which is appallingly discriminatory, and that has shattered our need for the aspiration of independence, felt by Kashmiri people under foreign domination since decades.

Kashmir is in need for an amalgamation. Fractured regions plundered by both countries have made our ambitions difficult to achieve. Leaders from both countries know this. They themselves have recognised the fact that Kashmir is a dispute in countless pacts, but due to the complexities of legal interpretations made during the partition era, the war outbreaks, a pessimistic past for future reconciliation, lack of obedience to UN resolutions, and the growth of imposed institutions inside both administered territories has made our destiny empowered into fumbling hands. Therefore, this should create a need for a renewed and an efficacious strategy inside Kashmiri politics, where accommodation of commonality between different stratums of Kashmiri leadership occurs for ‘regional strengthening’, in order to conjure a political case that rejuvenates international attention.

Wajahat Habibullah, in his book, ‘My Kashmir: Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace’ writes that the process of a joint political action for Kashmir’s resolution was given a parturition through APHC. He further states that Abdul Majid Wani, father of popular JKLF insurgent, Ashfaq Majid Wani, had himself pressed for the preference of a much needed political agitation, rather than a violent agitation. At the age of seventeen, the Head Priest of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq united twenty three organisations into this amalgam. Since then, APHC has been known for expounding the cause for Kashmir’s settlement. Leaders from this forum have debated on national media of India and Pakistan, and have even performed meetings at national and international levels with top leaderships, foreign think tanks, but over the years, have also been met by differences in strategies required for joint action and regional mediation.

In order to restructure the regional politics in the region, all the Kashmiri leadership should go back to the UN resolution, 1948, August 13th, where Part III of the clause clearly states that the future status of Jammu & Kashmir should be decided according to the will of the people. This important UN document also states that Pakistan had lied about its troops fighting in J&K. Once the Pakistani leadership that time conceded this lie, the UN had no option but to ask Pakistan to vacate its troops - it also mentioned a need for withdrawal of troops from India once it was done. This stance was cleared by ‘Indian White Paper on Plebiscite in Kashmir, 1947’( page 77), which states that once the conditions for an absence of war is restored, a democratic method would be recognised for a plebiscite or a referendum, which might be held under international auspices. It was further reaffirmed on the White Paper, 1948 (page.3), that accession to India was granted only a ‘provisional approval’ until the will of the people will be institutionalised. Therefore, the analysis of this problem likely seems that until demilitarisation from both countries doesn’t get initiated, no visible political development can take place. Hence, all Kashmiri leadership must recognise this interpretation – whether they are leaders working for local governance, or leaders and stakeholders outside the electoral frays. If any deviation occurs in accepting this fact, then isn’t that an ambiguity for further ramifications in our regional politics?

Let’s take the example of Palestine. As a disputed territory, world leaders have never recognised its local governance as a just political resolution. These dynamics match our case too. So why should we recognise local governance as a final solution, or appreciate strengthening of ideologies of power sharing structures of India and Pakistan? Therefore, the political parties involved in governance in Jammu and Kashmir should make sure that they prioritise efforts which are made to address ‘regional co-operation’, in order to pave ways for bridging ‘perception and ideological gaps’, with stakeholders who are not involved in governance. This exercise should hold true for Pakistan administered Kashmir as well, in order to overlap political ambitions for nationhood. Hence, there is a need for leaders from both sides to critically analyse our political problem further.

All Kashmiri leadership should also evaluate the aftermaths of armed insurgency and their historic designs - the fundings and trainings of armed militants for religious extremism, the armed wings of our regional political parties who were finally oppressed by their trainers outside our regional borders, for foreign nationalism, or utilised for that matter, for strengthening politics of outlanders, and the need for dialogue with extremist institutions in operation. Sumantra Bose, in his book, ‘Kashmir: Roots of Conflict and Paths to Peace’, even writes that some armed rebels drew inspiration from valley’s local Sufi traditions, rooted in mystical piety and were seen as ‘spiritual fighters’ for the cause of Kashmiri nationhood – combatants who wanted to restore the political independence and economic aspirations through the means of arms, for all sections of Kashmiri people. However, the author even claims that armed rebellions have fallen prey to Indian and Pakistani interests too, due to ruthless diplomacies and the rise of religious nationalism. These known facts should also raise a debate amongst our local leadership regarding the outcomes of armed rebellions.

It is a known fact in Kashmiri politics that dangers of religious extremism have proven a problem for our liberation. Hindu and Muslim clerical leaders, should never at any cost, pioneer religious affliations in our policy making. They should rather pursue pluralism because extremism has and will result in more fatal communal discourses. Adventurism of nationalistic ideals marketed by both the countries doesn’t match with our ethno-national and social consciousness – Kashmiriyat. This important aspect should be recognised by all political parties especially leaders of  local governance – when choices of coalitions are made for local administration, regional co-operation due to a sense of cultural bondage and regional patriotism should hold a preference. From the last ten years, Kashmiri people, inside Indian administered Kashmir, have witnessed how national interests make regional politics a mere servitude to higher power centers. If there is a greater reconciliation between all sections of Kashmiri leadership, then that would make our case stronger for a resolution internationally. All these realities raise an importance of strengthening the need of our culture, in order to inject a reincarnated hope in our political arena.

There is a need to discourse the already prepared vision documents, constitutions, constructive strategies and restructuring policies.  It is time for the leaders to join hands, act responsibly, and appreciate a broader discourse amongst our debating chambers. Why should regional political parties responsible for governance fight just for power? That doesn’t serve interests of masses, or stakeholders outside the imposed statute law. They should rather use regional legislative power to harmonise our region, instead of resulting a prey to foreign nationalistic designs. 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Evolution of Kashmir's Social Media for Libertarianism

Also published on Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Social media has become a modern tool for dissenters. It is medium of expression by netizens, aided by a technological revolution. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogger and Tumblr are leading it at the front. We live in a world of technological gateways that have paved the way for cohesion of intellectuals online. Kashmir is not far behind. Our vale also had its share of educating masses especially aiding civil discontent through an aware youth during crises. We do have intellectuals in our social circles that were upfront during the unrest that happened cyclically in the last six years. We also have voices whose intellect is helping us to be vigilant regarding the current affairs of our society through retrospection of knowledge acquired globally.

When we speak of traditional grassroot activism, it has its foundations in academic theory that can be linked to modern social media activism today. One of the world’s topmost intellectual, Noam Chomsky, in his revolutionary essay, ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’ writes that ‘intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of the government’, to ‘analyse action according to their causes’ and ‘motives’ and often ‘hidden intentions’. For propagation of rightful ideas, he even choses ‘three types of intellectual traditions’, namely ‘area specialists’, ‘social theory’ with emphasis on the ‘theories of international system’, ‘social change’, ‘conflict resolutions’, and the ‘analysis of public policy’. These ideas were eventually implemented by Chomsky, as a reaction against the consequences of Vietnam war, dumped by mainstream press during those years. However, even today, these ideas have once more incarnated revolutions that happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen during the Apring Spring. These ideas mentioned by Chomsky can also serve as a pivotal constitution for anarchist voices in our vale, especially youth who want inspiring ideas of a liberated society. Kashmiri youth, therefore, should realise the positive aspects of online social media, in order to effectively participate in the management of public affairs, from the workplace, to commerce, to legal affairs, to media, to constructive activism in political and social circles. I always believed that Kashmiris should take advantage of this medium because it is a much faster way of informing people than constructive street protests due to its global connectivity, having a scope for global audience as well as reverberating global standards.

As far as I remember, in my teens, I used to interact politics on a blog called ‘Kashmir Truth To be Told’. It was like an online journal, which compiled blogs on current affairs in Kashmir and encouraged debate amongst a small community of bloggers. ‘Timez of Kashmir’ by Omar Bashir and ‘Bloodied Rivers of Kashmir’ by Muhammad Faysal were other blogs that I frequently used to visit and ponder . Some of the material that it carried was hardly published, or talked in the mainstream press.  I even myself started blogging on issues that I felt were need of the hour for online dissemination of conflict resolutions and other important historical, social and economic facts.  Infact, I always found satisfaction in encountering less biased information online, regarding our conflict than reading what was prevalent on the Indian media or some factions of the less liberal Kashmiri press .  I even formed a conclusion that blogging was the most credible resistance against a biased press. Over the years, other forms of resistance gave birth in Kashmir. Several talented artists like MC Kash got immense popularity in our local social media and even hit international headlines, due to the nature of his revolutionary rap songs, inspired by classical dissenting rappers.

When we speak of Facebook, it has been taken as an effective tool to pursue activism, due the nature of its applications. It has groups, pages and personal profiles that can be easily used as a propagation medium for any form of social revolution online. Sharing press links, pictures and notes serve as a validation for online activism. Twitter, on the other hand, is a brief online feed which does the same. Infact, it’s a quicker mode of sharing knowledge with other online peers . The content of Kashmiri tweeters, dedicated to political activism, especially human rights watchers, make sure that each form of violence and injustice doesn’t go unreported. Many common Kashmiris have been doing this for years now, and that too without any recognition. This speaks volumes about their dedication for the need of transforming our socio-political philosophies from a slumber of foreign chauvinism, that has hijacked the interpretation of our history, nullified our deserving political institutions and intensified economic inequality.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that governments should fear its people.  If the government isn’t keeping the promises of people for which they voted them in power, then why is there a need for a democracy which loses all its ingredients once a civil unrest happens? Infact, for that reason, over the years, many modern Marxists and Left Libertarians are arguing to ascend social media as a tool to democratise every major ordinance, in every state parliament through online voting, that can result in effective realisation of aspirations of the people. Same should be the case for Kashmiri intellectuals today. We have a political history that has consumed thousands of human lives. It has given birth to a state power that worships dictatorship in its pristine form, whenever in threat, thereby curbing all forms of dissent through calculated use of military and police power.  

In Kashmir, there even have been cases where governments are now trying to curb voices online through secured technology, as a form of protection to their existing power. Now, if people are not even allowed to discuss the injustice that is happening in their day to day life, that too online, then it is simply a direct attack to the tenets of human liberation and personal security. The people in power seriously need to rethink the immunity that they enjoy due to exercise of political authority. If voices and visions prove a threat to a government, then they must realise that they run a centre of power, and it’s irresponsible implementation can have detrimental effects on millions of lives. Kashmir is already going through that phase since decades. Therefore, only the talk of liberty can shun subjugation. States must realise it. 

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My journey of Kashmir Conflict

Also published on Rising Kashmir

It was a procession to Char-e-Sharif.  Shabir Shah was participating in it. My mum tells me that I was in a servant’s lap, while some of my family were watching the procession going through the main road. It was a call to freedom during those fearful days of insurgency. It was then that my family tells me that my first babbling was a babbling of freedom ‘Azaadi’.  
I have lived in the outskirts of the Srinagar city, Baghi-Mehtab, which was previously called as ‘Karnal Bagh’. It was an enormous property of a wealthy army man that was eventually taken over by the government. A land filled with peach trees, an estate of foliages. My grandfather used to tell me old lores about this place. During the olden days, it was so quiet and haunting at night that he used to praise the courage of my grandmother who used to wait for him till he broke his hunger with a late supper.  Years after, since this large green estate was converted into a housing colony, with a mix of elites, upper middle class, and lower middle class dwellers living in the area, Baghi-Mehtab was known for its Jehadi hostility during the troubled times.
As a kid, I used to psychologically unsettle with each gun-shot I heard. In one of my childhood days, an encounter with militants and army happened near our gate on the main road. It were our neighbours and my family who spilled water on blood to clean the road in an effort for the normal life to return.  I still have vivid memories of how the Jehadis used to ask for charity ‘Chanda’, and the trouble that came after when Indian army used to enter our houses in long boots, making our praying chambers dirty, and then asking my family extremely difficult questions.
I also grew amidst a growing ‘Ikwani’ (pro-government gunmen) culture. I still remember a horrifying tale that occurred just in my neighbourhood. Some undercover Ikwanis had put sedatives in the food of some Jehadis. They then dug a hole and beheaded them during the night like lambs to slaughter. Beheadings were common in my area. Some heads even used to hang on trees with their names engraved in Urdu, on their foreheads ,through knives. Some were taken into the timber factory and their bodies were cut into two pieces on the machines. My uncle ‘Chacha’, an engineer and businessman, who now lives prosperously in Los Angeles, was once taken by the army and beaten for no reason of his. When he used to meet me during his returns to Kashmir, each time when the topic of politics came, he used to tell me that moments like these are invaluable lessons for the youth like me, about subjugation, who saw very dark times during childhood.
In one of the days of my teens, I was beaten up by an army man. He tried to whip my back through his broad elbows. It was because my motorbike’s disc break didn’t stop exactly where he wanted me to be. He had no reason to stop me. I was wearing a helmet and school uniform, and was going back to Biscoe School, after returning from tuitions, early morning.  But that experience reinforced in me just a taste of subjugation.  The worst form of subjugation is people who have died in street protests, people who don’t get commiserated, the innocent civilians and rebels, who now rest in neatly ordered graves of our vale. Ours is a paradise which has transformed into a sea of sadness. It has been a lesson of struggles for me and I became stronger from life’s each test. I started realising how to conquer fear as I grew up by trying to speak the truth, regarding whatever has happened through my experiences.
As I grew up, I started showing interest in reading about our conflict. I was impressed by our history that had roots of tolerance and unity. The outsiders who ruled Kashmir always left a bad feeling in my heart. I always felt Kashmir deserved homegrown rulers and a culture of its own to flourish.  When I used to hear about lost people, martyrs, unsettled cases in courts, unnecessary convictions of small children, youth and our leaders, just for fighting for a weakening cause of self-determination, a pain and sympathy used to arise in me. As the marches for freedom that eventually were crushed by the brutalities of state power, in recent years, through curfew hegemonies, I started taking refuge in some of the tenets of anarchism because it is the most favoured ideology for Kashmir’s freedom struggle from India and Pakistan. I also started to realise that pen can be the most dangerous sword to kill an unworthy opponent. Today, many of the youth have started writing, and with an older generation dedicated to this cause, I am very happy that atleast, we have stronger foundations for an intellectual movement necessary for this cause. 

 © Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cross LOC Trade and Transformation from Conflict

Also published on Viewpoint, Rising Kashmir

Cross LOC (Line of Control) trade initiative has been one aspiring development which has been lingering around for a while now. India and Pakistan still haven’t realised that it is one of the most sought after CBM’s one could ask for, besides phased demilitarisation, that could gesticulate some sort of optimism towards the Kashmir resolution.
When we talk of Kashmir, there is a transformational value attached to intra border trading due to its economic nature. Rigorous cross border trading between two parts of Kashmir, has the potential to convert the war system and conflict structures between India and Pakistan to an absolute low, if not the total elimination of nefarious attitudes which they have towards each other. It will eventually transform the attitude of Kashmiri people by healing their psyche and would help them in harnessing their entrepreneurial attitudes.
John Paul Lederach and Raimo Vayrynen are two important proponents from conflict resolution literature. They believe in a simple, yet effective transformation for conflict zones and have simple explanations: “Transformation of war to peace should be inspired by a quest for the values of peace, justice, truth and mercy.” In case of Kashmir, realisation of conflict transformation and its pacification is incredibly important, because that would be the most honest and credible solution. Countless rhetorical pacts that have been signed by India and Pakistan will only be deemed as failures, unless and until they are not achieved through determination.
Kashmir is in need of a resolute roadmap for peace and prosperity. Personally, I was shocked to hear that the recent interlocutor report,  had been prepared on a cost of Rs. 50 crore.  That money, in my opinion, could have been used in providing several welfare measures such as building a modern pediatric hospital or cleaning our dirty cities.  It rarely talked about the roadmap for consensus between two parts of Kashmir, and focused more on state centre relations. Nothing significant was mentioned about cross border trade. It is ironic that India still doesn’t realise that the solution for Kashmir isn’t in the clauses of the Indian Constitution. The solution lies in a country-country consensus, which the genuine leadership of Kashmiris would accept.
India and Pakistan should emancipate their thinking about Kashmir, by helping the Kashmiri people to venture out and make economic connections. Major problems in the area of border trade, traveling or visa issues should be identified and all the focus should be people centric. Major academia, writers and intellectuals, through writings, and debates, from both sides of Kashmir, have recognised the need for cross LOC tourism exchanges and educational co-operation. These initiatives, if matured can even help in strengthening the political discourses needed for the final resolution.
There are several trade related difficulties which need to be tackled. Some of them include complexities in travel permits, poor communication links through facsimile or telephonic calls, lack of adequate infrastructure, absence of banking facilities and currency guidance. These problems have diluted the economic aspirations for people from both sides. Trade is just limited to 21 commodities. These petty numbers defy trade rationale, as they are already available at lower costs within the importer’s market or the exporter who has more lucrative market domestically. It is also ironic that governments in Kashmir are doing nothing, besides staying silent spectators on this issue. Isn’t it the responsibility of our leaders to bridge perception gaps, repair relationships and build trust?
It is also important for both countries to realise that they keep the Kashmir issue separate from their nationalistic agendas. The attitude shift from both the countries will not only address the sentimental needs of the divided families, but will also ameliorate their social-economic conditions. Kashmiri people, as stakeholders, should be allowed to be the carriers of the resolution process themselves.
 In an interview with NDTV, in December 2006, Pervez Musharaf had elaborated his ideas, regarding his vision for Kashmir resolution. It was well received by the public. Importantly, he mentioned that Kashmiri people should be allowed to move freely between the two regions, besides phased demilitarisation plans. He had also requested the present government to carry on this agenda which was left behind during his tenure. Till now, Kashmiri people are unaware regarding what the future initiatives are regarding cross border trade. Does India and Pakistan want Kashmiri people to forget these promises altogether? If not, then how long should we wait? Why should the resolution for Kashmir face the brunt of political incompetencies of both countries, despite thousands of sacrifices rendered through blood and paper? Even the bus routes in the past have just been reduced to symbolisms. Kashmir wants answers.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir