Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Communalism versus Valley ism, JUNAID QURESHI

Communalism versus Valley ism, JUNAID QURESHI Thursday, 01 01 2015 11:49
That the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir is divided is not a new or ground-breaking statement. That the divided parts of this divided state may head for even more division, might be called a thought-provoking one. Before I will explain this notion, I would like to make it clear that I have absolutely no preference for any party which contested the recently held assembly elections nor do I favor any particular coalition which might be born out of the number game.

Many separatist elements have ardently propagated to boycott the elections and tried to link it to the larger political issue of Kashmir. They conveniently ignored that even the parties contesting these elections have made it clear numerous times that the assembly elections are for administration purposes only. Let me reassure them that no CM of J&K and no PM of Pakistan Administered Kashmir is able or has the authority to decide the future of Jammu & Kashmir through local elections. That will be decided by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The same people, who during these elections have decided that they want to live with dignity. Every sane mind in India, Pakistan and Kashmir is longing for a peaceful and long lasting solution to the Kashmir-issue. Having said that, the turnout of 65% in the recent elections has fortunately shown that the Kashmiris have matured and will not allow their daily lives to be kept hostage by merchants of the Kashmir-issue.

I am a democrat and believe that the people’s mandate should always be respected. I am also a Kashmiri from the Valley. One who is deadly secular and firmly believes that Kashmir does not only compromises the Valley or the Muslim inhabitants of the state. For me, Kashmir also includes Jammu,Ladakh, Aksai Chin, Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan with all its state subjects irrespective of religion, caste, creed or colour. However, in this write-up I will only analyze Indian Administered Kashmir as that is the jurisdiction of the recently held assembly elections.

The princely state of Jammu & Kashmir is an area of 2,22,236 km2. 78,114 km2(35.14%) is under the Administration of Pakistan and 42,735 km2(19,23%) is under Chinese Administration. Indian Administered Kashmir constitutes 101,387 km2 (45,62%). Out of this, Ladakh is the largest area which compromises 58,33%, Jammu accounts for 26,93% and the Kashmir Valley makes up for only 15,73% of the total area.

According to the census of 2011, the Kashmir Valley is the most densely populated area with almost 70 lakhs inhabitants of which 97% are Muslim. The population of Jammu is almost 55 lakhs with 65% Hindus and 31% Muslims and in Ladakh the population is close to 3 lakhs where 47% are Muslims and 46% are Buddhists. 53,9% of the total population lives in the Kashmir Valley, 43,7 % in Jammu and 2,3% in Ladakh. In total 67% of the population is Muslim and 30% is Hindu. A small percentage subscribes to other religions.

Above mentioned data shows that Jammu is the second largest geographical area of Indian Administered Kashmir and that it is much bigger than the Kashmir Valley. It is also the second most populous one, home to almost half of the total population of the State.
The BJP won 11 seats in the 2008 Assembly elections and has put up a spectacular show by winning 25 seats in the recently concluded one. A considerable portion of this gain can be directly credited to the ‘Modi Wave’ in India. Some political pundits have called Jammu communal for voting BJP. This notion is indeed debatable. But what about the Kashmir Valley’s communal inclination? What about, as I call it, Valley-ism?

None of the 46 seats in the Kashmir Valley has been won by a Hindu. A strong BJP candidate in the Pandit dominated constituency of Habbakadal lost to a candidate of NC. It is said that NC supporters came out in huge numbers in this constituency and begged the people to vote in their favour as otherwise a Hindu BJP candidate would win from Srinagar. NC’s communal religious card worked and BJP’s MotiKoul lost by a margin of over 2,000 votes.

BJP has bagged a total of 23% of all votes casted while PDP has won 22,7% of all the votes. In absolute value the BJP is ahead as well, as more than 11 lakh votes have been casted in its favour, whereas PDP is a few thousand votes short of this number. The number game of electoral politics has turned out to be in favour of PDP and it has emerged as the largest party, but would it be wise to disregard the voice of almost one fourth of the voters? Jammu has convincingly voted for the BJP; would it then be politically and morally justified of the Valley-ites to ignore Jammu’s verdict? Mind you, this is an area which is almost twice the size of the Valley and has just 15 lakh inhabitants less than it. If this voice will be ignored, what awaits J&K when the number game might turn out to be favourable for BJP in the next assembly elections?  

A lot of voices in the Kashmir Valley are calling for the formation of a government which will exclude the BJP. There are rumors doing the rounds that in order to keep the BJP out of any ruling coalition, arch-rivals PDP and NC could tie the knot of a marriage of compromise with either the Congress or some independent candidates as bridesmaids. Indeed PDP has emerged as the largest party, which has made them get into the driver’s seat. Although I am no one to advise an extremely experienced and intelligent politician like Mr. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, I would like to remind him with the utmost respect that it is not just a co-driver which he has to choose this time. A wrong choice might put Jammu & Kashmir’s dynamic equilibrium at stake.

As stated already, in my opinion the people’s mandate should always be respected and adhered to. The people of Kashmir and indeed the people of Jammu as well, have spoken. Jammu and Kashmir and the people living in both these parts of J&K already have a lot of grievances amongst each other. Perhaps these grievances have been fuelled by communal elements in Jammu but let us not deny that the superiority complex of the people living in the Valley and especially Srinagar, can inarguably also be classified as communalism.

Many living in Srinagar harbour an intangible, yet baseless feeling of superiority regarding others. In Srinagar, we quickly tend to use epithets like ‘Villager’ and ‘Gujjar’ for people living just a few miles outside the city. For us, even the cunningness of someone’s character is often related to the place of their domicile. One can imagine which prejudices some of us hold regarding our brethren living in Jammu. It is disturbing to note that often these prejudices are mutual.

We Kashmiris have a long way to go in reconciling our differences and regaining the true essence of Kashmiriyat. Undoubtedly history, division, conspiracies and our own errors have fostered our intrinsic alienation. Perhaps we should take lessons from history. The birth of Bangladesh has taught us that not respecting the people’s mandate can prove to be the womb of division and devastation. Not respecting the people’s mandate in Jammu & Kashmir will only nourish further alienation and cultivate unholy ideas like bifurcation, trifurcation and later on quadfurcation. We, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, must not allow that.

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Now seize the opportunity of successful JK elections to sideline separatists, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Now seize the opportunity of successful JK elections to sideline separatists, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Many of Kashmir’s politicians and intellectuals — who for years maintained that India could never hold a credible democratic exercise in the Valley — are now active on two fronts. Some have contested assembly elections. Others are telling the world that no elections (even when turnout is 70-80%) can substitute for a plebiscite. The latter may be right for the sake of a courtroom argument but the way they seek to discredit this unprecedented dance of democracy perhaps betrays their level of frustration and a sense of defeat.
A strong separatist sentiment coupled with some fear of the gun was at work in eight of the 46 segments in Kashmir. Elsewhere there were scenes as from a village fair, for the first time after 1977.
The argument of ‘sadak, bijli, pani’ was first introduced by agents of the state who wanted people’s participation in 2008 assembly elections, in the aftermath of a religious and regional divide. It provided an excuse of convenience to over 1.75 million Kashmiris who turned up voluntarily, asserting invariably that ‘resolution of day to day problems’ was a reality and compulsion. Politics, they asserted, was an ‘exclusive domain’ of the separatists. Even Hurriyat discovered convenience in this interpretation.
With thicker flocks thronging the polling stations after six years, the old boycott brigade began claiming that it was the Kashmiris’ collective urge to defeat BJP and thus prevent it from ‘grabbing power’ with the advantage of the migrants’ vote. It was hardly credible. Remarkably, even the 13 segments where BJP didn’t contest witnessed heavy turnout. Who were the voters going to defeat?
Why did the nationally sinking Congress bag four seats, including Hurriyat hardliner Syed Geelani’s Sopore? More significantly, despite losing both of its bastions of Dooru and Kokernag, Congress conquered PDP’s traditional strongholds of Shangas and Homeshalibug. Would Congress, rather than PDP and NC, benefit from an ‘anti-BJP wave’?
Both elections this year have to a large extent restored the credibility of the Indian democratic processes after 1977, when Sheikh Abdullah’s NC decimated the countrywide ‘Janata wave’.
The 2014 elections are arguably the first when central intelligence and security agencies stood aloof. The Valley noticed keenly that Congress and NC lost all their six Lok Sabha seats when they were in power both at the Centre and in the state. BJP’s failure to win a single assembly seat in the Valley and an embarrassing defeat of its ‘Mission 44 plus’ have shut up those mouthing scepticism and cynicism.
Elections over, only a stable, credible and all-inclusive government with due representation to Kashmiri and Dogra heartlands can take this rare achievement to its logical conclusion. Equally important would be a strong and credible opposition that ceases to survive on posture politics, perpetuation of pseudo-separatist sentiment and regional and communal polarisation, and instead contributes positively to the invaluable mandate the people of J&K have given to the 12th legislative assembly.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Line up or run, Farooq Tariq

Line up or run, Farooq Tariq
The News, 26/12/14

Such was the devastating effect of the Peshawar attack on children that my 14-year-old son asked his mum what he should do in case came to his school. – “Line up or run”?

The day shocked Pakistan and the world. A spontaneous shutdown the following day reminded us of the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s killing in December 2007, when all of Pakistan was shut down in grief and anger.

The Pakistani state failed miserably to curb the rise of religious fundamentalism. For a long time, extremists were encouraged by the state as a second line of security. The security paradigm meant that enmity with India was the core purpose of state patronage. The process of Islamisation was accelerated by military dictator Ziaul Haq with the full support of American imperialism.

Apart from creating and supporting jihadist groups, for decades some sections of the state with the financial and political assistance of imperial powers have indoctrinated millions with a conservative Islamic ideology for the purpose of safeguarding their own strategic interests.

The three decades since 1980 are seen as the years of madressahs which, in many instances, became the alternative to the regular school system in the country. Many terrorist activities carried out in Pakistan have been linked to the organisational and political support some such madressahs.

After 9/11, the state’s close relationship with extremists has changed to some extent – but not broken in real terms. Banned terrorist groups continue to change their names and carry out activities on a regular basis. They hold meetings and public rallies, collect funds and publish literature without any state intervention.

Pakistan has become more conservative and more right wing. Blasphemy laws are frequently used for settling personal and ideological scores. Religious minorities, women and children are easy targets and are paying the greatest price for this decisive right-wing turn.

The rise of extremism has emerged as the most serious challenge not only to progressive forces but also to the very foundation of a modern society in the country.

Education and health are the real targets of these extremists. Polio workers, mainly women, are killed by terrorists on the assumption that a team working for the elimination of polio led to the discovery of Osama bin Laden, leading to his assassination. The net result is that the World Health Organisation has recommended a ban on all Pakistanis travelling abroad without a polio vaccination certificate.

The primary and high school syllabus in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is amended to give room to more unscientific and orthodox ideas in the name of religion.
Religious extremists are the new version of fascism. They are fascists in the making. They have all the historic characteristics of fascism. They kill opponents en masse. They have found considerable space among the middle class – particularly among the educated lot. They are against trade unions and social movements. They find women to be inferior to men, and aim to keep them in the home. Attacking religious minorities has become a norm.

These groups are internationalists. They are against democracy and promote theocracy as a way of governance. They are the most barbaric force recent history has seen in the shape of the IS and the Taliban. There is nothing progressive in their ideology. They are not anti-imperialism but anti-America and anti-west. They have created and carried out the most barbaric terrorist activities in the shape of suicide attacks, bomb blasts, mass killings and indiscriminate shootings.

These people must be countered. The American way of fighting back in the shape of the ‘war on terror’ has failed miserably. Despite all the American initiatives of occupations, wars and creating democratic alternatives, extremists have grown more in number and are stronger than they were on 9/11, despite the occupation of Afghanistan.

A whole package is needed. The state must break all links with extremist groups. The mindset that these people are ‘our own brothers, our own people, our security line and guarantee against Hindus’, some are bad and some are good’ and so on must be changed. Conspiracy theories are favoured by these extremist right–wing groups. They do not want to face the reality.

There is no short cut to ending extremism. There is no military solution. It has to be a political fight with dramatic reforms in education, health and realities of the working class in most Muslim countries. Starting from nationalisation of madressahs, we need free education, health and transport as one of most effective means to counter fundamentalism.

Right-wing ideas are promoting extreme right-wing ideology. A mass working class alternative in the shape of trade unions and political parties, linked with social movements, is what will really help counter this kind of extremism.



DECEMBER 26, 2014   By D Suba Chandran*
Most of the immediate reaction to the just concluded J&K Assembly election has been on its nature and the outcome. True, the verdict is fractured. But what caused it? Is the divided mandate a manifestation of a deeper issue that we have to focus more, than on who will form the government and who support it? What is the Big Picture that is evolving and what it means for the future stability of the State and its people?
Shujaat Bukhari titled his column as the “Fractured Mandate” and The Hindu editorial called it as a “Fragmented Verdict”. National newspapers referred the election results in the following phrases: “Jammu goes the saffron way”; “From a small fry, BJP emerges as major player in state”; and “No easy Options for PDP, BJP”. All these reflect perhaps a reality or a new beginning. The larger question is, what does this portend for J&K and how did this development emerge? Since an eventful year is coming to an end, it will be useful to do a retrospect and make a forecast on why it had happened and what it means.
Statistically, the BJP has swept the Jammu region, with an exception in few constituencies especially in Poonch district. From Bani, Basholi and Kathua to Chhamb, Akhnoor and Nowshera, the BJP has swept the region. However, further west, the story is different in Rajouri, Poonch, Mendhar and Surankote. PDP has captured Rajouri and Poonch, while Mendhar and Surankote have been won by the NC and Congress.
Similarly, there has been a sweep in Bhaderwah-Ramban-Kishtwar belt by the BJP. However, north of Ramban, across the Banihal, it is a different story in Kashmir Valley. The PDP has regained its support base in Kashmir Valley; in fact, had it not been for the boycott call and less polling in Srinagar during the last elections, the PDP would have won more seats in 2008 itself.
Across the mighty Zoji La, there is yet another story in Kargil and Leh. The constituencies of Zanskar, Kargil, Leh and Nubra won by candidates who are independent or belonging to the Congress also tell a story.
Besides the bad performance of National Conference and Congress, which was expected, rejection of the Panthers Party and the emergence of Lone’s JKPC in north Kashmir, what do the recent elections signify?
Do the recent elections and its fractured mandate reflect a clear regional divide and a communal fault line in J&K? If the answer is an unfortunate yes, than the first big challenge for any party that forms the government is to address this divide. Why has the BJP that has swept the rest of Jammu region failed in Poonch and Rajouri? Why has PDP that has been the most successful in Valley, failed to repeat its performance outside it, except for few constituencies across the Pir Panjal? Any why has Ladakh neither preferred the BJP nor the PDP? This divide on regional and communal basis, perhaps is the biggest threat to the future of J&K.
The civil societies within J&K will have to ponder the larger implications of the election results, than narrowly focussing on whether PDP will align with BJP, or form the government with support from Congress and NC. The primary issue facing the political parties in J&K is not their ideology, or whether it helps or prevent from forming the next government. The big picture is how to address the looming threat, which has ended up in producing a hung verdict.
Non-addressal of the real cause, and looking at only managing its manifestation will only produce political instability and future hung assemblies. When did a party command a simple majority in J&K? Why has the State produced a series of hung assemblies in the last three elections? The answers remain elsewhere; the hung assembly is only a manifestation of a deeper problem, and just should not be seen as a Saffron Wave, or Modi sweep, or PDP resurgence.
Second major issue facing the new government in J&K and relatively another new one in New Delhi, is to break the political cycle between the State and Union governments. The issue is not whether the government in J&K is a coalition partner of the government in New Delhi; it is rather, how the two governments work in tandem in breaking the cycle of non-movement in crucial issues. Successful elections in J&K, formation of government, promise of movement between New Delhi and J&K, some movements and slogans on cross-LoC CBMs, stalemate, slow performance (if not non-performance) of the government within J&K, disappointment, and the breakdown – has been the general pattern in the last fifteen years.
How to break the above cycle, and pursue a straight path? If the civil societies within J&K will have to come together to address the imbalance question within J&K, the civil societies in J&K and the rest of India will have to come together and discuss how to break the set pattern. Unfortunately, not only the political parties, even the civil societies on both sides of the Lakhanpur border post have invented myths that suit their narrative and does not understand the other.
Rest of India blissfully thinks that a successful election in J&K means the rejection of separatism and terrorism. Peace is measured in terms of absence of violence and the number of people killed or not killed in a day. On the other hand, J&K, especially the Valley is angry about anything and everything and points finger at New Delhi on every ills, with less or no introspection. Both the societies have created an artificial screen with inward looking script, reinforced by their own media perpetuating the monologue about each other. For the agencies and political parties, such a difference and screen fits their primary narrative and prevent them from breaking the cycle.
Else, there will be more Standing Committees, Working Groups and Interlocutors, running in a cyclical path. Perhaps, this is where the media, think tanks, research institutes and Universities could come in, and even join hands in preparing a framework, that would break the above cycle. Unfortunately, the above institutions – be it in J&K or in New Delhi, have been critiquing whatever is happening, without succeeding in providing an alternative. And the civil societies within J&K and across Lakhanpur post get carried away by daily developments and miss the big picture.
Let us sincerely hope, researchers and columnists do not have to write a similar commentary next December on our ability to break the cycle. There have been multiple false starts. Hope the new year and new governments in J&K and New Delhi achieve a sustainable breakthrough.
*D Suba Chandran
Director, IPCS


Adfar Shah shuttles between New Delhi and Kashmir writing on South Asian societies and Politics for several publications besides Eurasia Review like Analyst World, South Asian Idea, Countercurrents,, Kashmir Monitor, Kashmir Images and other web portals and newspapers. Adfar is a Sociologist and researcher (at SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) who continues to seek to understand the Gender question, South Asian politics, Kashmir in conflict, Military sociology and Indian Military Apparatus, Af-Pak strain and Muslim identity issues.
Eurasia Review: Being a sociologist how do you read the record turnout in Kashmir Valley?
Adfar Shah: With a record turnout of 65 percent, I would say in the whole state there is a change of heart and as I always maintain it is out of people’s affiliation and close contact with the contesting candidates. Not just candidates, but more often people themselves motivate other people (neighbors’ or friends or relatives) to vote for a particular candidate mainly because of two reasons, either to teach their rival candidate a lesson or to make their favorite candidate win anyway. The followers of all candidates follow the same policy, resulting in the massive turn out.
Adfar Shah shuttles between New Delhi and Kashmir writing on South Asian societies and Politics for several publications besides Eurasia Review like Analyst World, South Asian Idea, Countercurrents,, Kashmir Monitor, Kashmir Images and other web portals and newspapers. Adfar is a Sociologist and researcher (at SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) who continues to understand the Gender question, South Asian politics, Kashmir in conflict, Military sociology and Indian Military Apparatus, Af-Pak strain and Muslim identity issues. Contact him at
Adfar Shah.
My father who is not a supporter of Omar Abdullah’s NC at all still voted for NC purely because of the candidate not the party. In the recently concluded elections especially in rural belts, the sections of the society who hardly voted for decades came out in bulk to vote this time purely to register the victory of their candidates or beat the opposite ones who do not suit them ideologically.
It should be said here that even such a record turnout is in no way a referendum on the Kashmir issue because elections mean the routine administration, we can call it Bijli, Pani Sadak affair in Kashmir. The K-issue must be delinked from the routine election process in Kashmir. Also elections must not be taken as a measure of normalcy, peace, calm, certainty or security or end to violent youth bulge, etc,.
Eurasia Review: Has such an impressive turnout given any blow to separatism?
Adfar Shah: Separatism is a different subject and must not be linked to the contesting of routine elections or even linked to people’s voting behavior as it remains a fact that Kashmir issue is a political issue that needs a political solution. Most of the youth who campaigned for the candidates during elections subscribe to the separatist ideology but believe that elections have nothing to do with the solution of Kashmir problem. Yes, the larger turn out can definitely be linked to people’s unsubscribing to the politics or ideology of violence and vested interests, but the elections hardly give any blow to separatism in the valley.

Eurasia Review: In some of your earlier write ups on Kashmir elections, you had maintained that it is not Modi, but a “Mufti wave this time”, while BJP still has good prospects in the state? What do you say now?

Adfar Shah: I had rightly used the term Mufti wave because it was truly reflecting from the grass roots and this is proven as PDP got 28 seats and become the largest party. In Jammu it was undoubtedly the Modi wave that BJP benefitted from and gained 25 significant number of seats. However, the Modi wave even existed in Ladakh during parliamentary elections, but results proved quite opposite this time for BJP’s poor foot work. BJP’s opening no account in the Valley is also not a surprise to me, not because of the heavy Mufti wave, but out of their selection of the candidates. BJP in the Valley needs some stalwarts, not just beginners or those who don’t have a mandate from anywhere.

Eurasia Review: How do you see PDP emerging in the Valley?
Adfar Shah: PDP emerged as an alternative to hegemonic National Conference. The party is not emerging just in the valley but I would say throughout the state due to its inclusive ideology and sincere and energetic young work force besides a flock of intellectuals like Dr Drabu, Nayeema Mehjoor, Nayeem Akhtar and many others.

Earlier it was south Kashmir that was treated as the PDP bastion, but this time the party won five of the total 8 assembly seats in Srinagar reflecting their making inroads everywhere. Even the PDP candidates who lost this time have given a tough fight to their rivals owing to the Mufti wave. PDP is certainly changing the discourse of the state’s politics wherein people believe that the party led by the learned politician Mufti Mohammad Syed is never going to allow any compromise on state’s unique identity. The party has earlier also raised the never addressed concerns of safety of the common masses who were oppressed by guns from all sides during the ongoing brutal conflict situation. Plus the party’s manifesto speaks of reforming the state’s impoverished socio-economic situation and uncertain security scenario which is why it is gaining much public support. The quest that remains is to see how it practices what it has stated in its manifesto.
Eurasia Review: What would you link NC’s (National Conference) drubbing to?
Adfar Shah: Jammu and Kashmir’s oldest party once led by the charismatic Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah is fast losing that very Sheikh charisma – this is the actual cause of its declining rapport among masses. I want to make it clear here that mostly political analysts keep wrongly portraying NC’s success at mere 15 seats as the flood fallout, but there is not a single example of such a thing. Mr. Omar lost even his home constituency ‘Sonwar’ clearly reflecting his poor foot work and his being a stranger to his own neighbourhood and it was not the floods where he did what he could as a human being. He left the family bastion ‘Ganderbal’ as he timely guessed his declining graph in the high profile constituency that was brutally neglected both by his father and Omar himself.

The further anti-incumbency factor and NC leadership’s lack of reach out to masses played a significant role. People believe that Omar regime was totally not accessible and its perpetual failure on boosting security to masses besides employment avenues, etc, proved the last nail in the coffin. Omar regime could not tackle corruption, nepotism and favouritism resulting in its drubbing and clear from the defeat of its senior stalwarts like the former Finance Minister, general secretary or other heavy weights. Also Omar is being criticized by the youth for his hasty decisions like extending the employees retirement age to 60 and pensioners are also furious over this decision. The credit also goes to PDP’s emerging leadership as well who gained enough ground and reached the hearts while NC was enjoying power.
Eurasia Review: NC retained both the seats of Ganderbal despite speculations and exit poll analysis, what is your take on it?

Adfar Shah: NC retained Ganderbal once again but this time it was a cut throat competition at both the seats of Ganderbal and Kangan. Ganderbal especially proved not a cake walk for NC’s Ishfaq Jabbar and the people neither link Jabbar’s victory to NC’s credibility in Ganderbal nor holistically to Ishfaq Jabbar himself, but to late Sheikh Jabbar, Ishfaq’s father who was undoubtedly a visionary leader, having worked tirelessly for Ganderbal in the past. Further NC’s Kangan seat victory is not a surprise at all as the Mian family has a lot of following and Mian Altaf’s good work in the constituency makes him taste victory again and again despite a tough competition. Had NC given mandate to anyone other than Altaf, PDP would have won it comfortably.

Eurasia Review: Who are the parties you think may form the government and what are the main challenges before the new government.

Adfar Shah: This still remains a big mystery. Earlier it seemed possible that even arch rivals like PDP and NC may join hands or PDP or congress (the usual stabilizer) may agree simply to keep BJP away from the government formation, but it can also not be ruled out completely that PDP may accept BJP’s support as well for Mr. Amit Shah, the BJP national president has kept all options open and the PDP president has also argued that government formation may take time, which means serious talks are on. BJP for sure is not totally untouchable to all the regional parties in the state.

Whosoever forms the government, the main issues before the new establishment are really tough. Kashmir is at a critical juncture where flood money is yet to come and suffering has increased multifold unaddressed, the reality of empty state coffers poses a pain to masses, lot of administrative mess leading to unaccounted corruption, uncertain security scenario leading to killings on routine basis, issues of massive post-flood rehabilitation, the monster of unemployment and mounting youth bulge, etc,. Such a dismal scenario calls for a serious policy and planning with due support of the centre and demands a speedy government formation. To put a crux of the main challenges that I would enumerate are: Development, good governance and rebuilding the flood hit Kashmir. These three issues must be the priority targets before the new government.

Eurasia Review: What is the message of the elections results in Jammu and Kashmir?

Adfar Shah:  The message is simply loud and clear, people want to move towards peace, prosperity and development. People want their candidates to fight for people’s security, for a life with dignity and most importantly for working towards creation of employment avenues which we lack so badly in this part of the world. The clear cut message by the election results to all the parties is that ‘if you fail to deliver, we will fail you for sure’.

Eurasia Review: What remains a challenge, despite the record turn out?

Adfar Shah: There is a big challenge that still prevails despite a record turnout of 65 percent, i.e. lack of amity between Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions and it has serious fallouts as far as our pluralistic ethos is concerned. This very created fissures are not allowing people to enjoy the emerging peace dividend as politics of polarization still continues successfully. Jammu’s voting behavior vs Kashmir clearly reflects the impact of the polarization that got created during elections and ultimately divided people of the state on religious lines, which is not a healthy sign.

Eurasia Review: What is your message to all people of the state and the political parties?
Adfar Shah: Let us celebrate our diversity and not get polarized or radicalize people on communal agenda for petty vote bank for the profit it yields may benefit a few but the harm it does is permanent and alarming. Let us prefer national interests over narrow interests and join hands in the PM’s national agenda and work for his slogan ‘Sabka Saat Sabka Vikaas’ and bridge the void between Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Also the most important measure of egalitarianism is to ensure more and more women candidates in the politics of Kashmir as we have just two women lawmakers now in the whole 87 member assembly and as a few women were in the fray reflecting our gender bias and need for women to come out and participate in the electoral process. Kashmir needs inclusive development and we need to take flood devastation head on and work for the rehabilitation of victims and progress of all. Kashmir indeed was yearning for a change of guard as it needs a new vision be that in economy, social security or administration. Let us hope the new regime delivers fast.
(Adfar Shah is a widely published Delhi based (Kashmiri) Sociologist and Columnist at some of the renowned media groups like Eurasia Review, South Asian Idea, Analyst World, Foreign, Kashmir Times, etc,. He can be reached at

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

TTP and Afghanistan, Editorial Daily Times of Pakistan

TTP and Afghanistan, Editorial Daily Times of Pakistan

The Afghan army’s offensive against the Taliban hiding in Kunar started some 10 days ago. It intensified after the killing of 132 children in the Peshawar based Army Public School on December 16. The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had rushed to Afghanistan to seek Afghan government’s corporation in getting the mastermind of the Peshawar massacre, Mullah Fazlullah, living in Kunar, Afghanistan. Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is hiding in Kunar and according to the latest reports is abetted in terrorism by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

If LeT is actually helping the TTP in Kunar then Pakistan is still not out of harm’s way. LeT, now operating in Pakistan under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has complete protection of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. The organization has been allowed to promote anti-India sentiments with no interference. JuD’s recent show at the Minar-e-Pakistan, where Hafiz Saeed was openly inviting people to conduct Jihad in Kashmir, continued for three days unhindered. If LeT is involved in fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan and by extension in Pakistan, then head should roll and thinking must come over the nature of anti-terrorism operation that the country has involved itself into. Scepticism about the nature of the military operation in North Waziristan has not yet left many both at home and abroad. Unless we distance ourselves from all sorts of Jihads, whether in Afghanistan or Kashmir, and clamp down on the 10 percent miscreants, as identified by Chaudhry Nisar, to restore the order in the country, all promises about breaking away with the theory of good and bad Taliban will remain hollow.

From the Afghan spectacle, General Raheel Sharif’s visit to Afghanistan was an attempt to paint Afghanistan the culprit behind Pakistan’s internal mess. It is one thing that President Ashraf Ghani gives concession to Pakistan government and extends cooperation to fight what he has been calling the common enemy i.e. terrorism. But it is quite another for him or for other Afghans to forget that it has been Pakistan that kept the fire of Jihad burning long after the Soviets and the US had left the region. Neither can they ignore the fact that Pakistan closed its eye on the takeover of its tribal area by the Al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists. The magnanimity shown by the Afghan government to eliminate TTP form Kunar is worth appreciating and should be reciprocated in the same coin.

Can we influence Mullah Omer to return to Afghanistan and rein in the Taliban? The infamous Quetta Shura cannot have survived without Pakistan’s patronage, therefore we need to stop playing ostrich, and prove that we are serious by finding solution to the Afghan conflict, wherein lie our own salvage. *

Monday, 22 December 2014

Who killed our children, Humayun Gauhar

Who killed our children, Humayun Gauhar
After turning Peshawar’s Army Public School into a killing field one of the terrorists phoned his handlers and asked: “We have killed all the children in the auditorium. What do we do now?” The handler replied: “Wait for the army people, kill them before blowing yourself up.”
Not just the terrorists, I’ll tell you who really killed our children. We did. We did by our callous attitude. We did by holding forth thoughtlessly, unwittingly becoming apologists for terrorism. We did by electing and tolerating terrible leadership. We did by tolerating the demented sermonising of demonic mullahs in mosques, madrassas and political parties. Thus did we allow terrorists to thrive. They are the products of our perfidy. They just press triggers. We give them guns, not books as Malala lamented. Most of all, I am angry with myself for not standing up more against society’s duplicity.
The problem is that most of our men don’t have balls; our women do. Why not hand Pakistan over to women? They would do a damn sight better job than men who are only good at contemplating their navels and then haranguing us with whatever nonsense comes to their challenged minds.
Control your anger, Humayun. Cut to the chase. Beating chests won’t do. Learn from the tragedy of the coldblooded massacre of 144 people including 132 schoolchildren, analyse mistakes and find corrections. Time to understand: THIS IS OUR WAR. Own it, fight it. Understand that terrorism is akin to a venom-spewing tree. Plucking its leaves, cutting branches and chopping its trunk doesn’t work. Destroy its roots in the ground and in our minds where they are most dangerous.
It took this tragedy to bring our ‘misleaders’ together in a ‘Political Fest’. A photograph of these geniuses makes one’s heart sink: are these the men who are going to lead our destiny? God help us, but He will not until we help ourselves first. Start by kicking misleaders out of our body politic that they have been polluting for years. Many of them called the terrorists “stakeholders”, “sulking compatriots”, “one of us” with whom we must hold a dialogue and allow them to open an office here. They must be mollycoddled and brought back in the fold. We lost eight precious months and the element of surprise before the army launched an operation against them with a reluctant prime minister going along. These men around the table who would lead our destiny admit that elections were rigged, that there is corruption and yet would support an illegal government on the pretext of supporting sham democracy and a political system that benefits them and them alone.
Lacking originality, the Political Fest decided to set up a committee. Yippee! The terrorists must be quaking with fright. The army forced them to agree to hang all convicted terrorists forthwith.
It took this tragedy to bring our ‘misleaders’ together in a ‘Political Fest’. A photograph of these geniuses makes one’s heart sink: are these the men who are going to lead our destiny?
What should be done?
1. Formation of a National War Government even if it comprises buffoons to get national consensus on the new anti-terrorism strategy.
2. Parliament should immediately declare a counter Jihad against fake Jihadi terrorists.
3. Declare a National War Emergency. Don’t let the fake treason case against General Musharraf weigh on what passes for your minds.
4. Empower the National Counter Terrorism Authority, give it funds and a head. Don’t quibble over whether a general (who would do a damn sight better job) or a pet civilian should head it. If government can spend billions on metro-buses and motorways, surely it can give much-needed fewer funds to NACTA. Problem is, motorways and metro buses give kickbacks; NACTA doesn’t. For God’s sake get satiated now you politicians.
5. Launch a simultaneous countrywide operation against terrorists of all ilk.
6. Give Afghanistan 24 hours to hand over terrorists and separatists to us or we will come to get them ourselves. Their lament that we don’t give their terrorists to them should be agreed to. There should be no such thing as “their terrorists” and “our terrorists”, “Good Taliban” and “Bad Taliban” just as there are no ‘Good Demons’ and ‘Bad Demons’. Demons are demons, period. All terrorists are everyone’s terrorists and should be dealt with collectively. Forget this fifth front nonsense.
7. Strengthen laws so that terrorists don’t easily get bail.
8. Establish summary courts run on due process with one appeal. Implement sentences immediately so terrorists don’t sit in jail foisting hell.
9. Create a narrative to counter the pernicious brainwashing narrative of terrorists and their sympathisers.
10. Kick out pro-terrorist mullahs from all mosques and madrassas.
11. Strengthen PEMRA to properly regulate media so that it doesn’t let these demons and their apologists spew their demented venom and pollute minds.
12. Unite people against terrorism government must end State Terrorism, like the Model Town massacre.
13. Make contemporary curricula for all educational institutions and ban the terrorist-producing Nebraska curriculum that the US made to create Mujahedeen against the Soviets.
It is easy to jump to conclusions in a storm of emotions. But the bloody outrage has boomeranged against the terrorists who tried to lower our morale by coinciding their heinous act with the fall of Dacca on December 16, spread terror and nip future soldiers in the bud by killing army and civilian children in an army school. This is the fallout, good and bad:
1. People are finally accepting that the war on terror is our war and we are fighting it for ourselves.
2. Instead of showing the army up as ineffective, public support for the army has increased, though one wonders how many more straws the army camel’s back can take before it breaks. Or is it a mule from the famous ‘Mule Battalion’. Many want the army to take over again, but what they should actually demand is true democracy through change of system.
3. They have darned somewhat the tattered civil-military relationship. This should dilute Nawaz Sharif’s “terrible fear” of army intervention. It won’t as long as he doesn’t go too far down the path of imbecility. The Peshawar carnage should show him that situations can change instantaneously and cause reaction. He should remember how his world changed when he illegally sacked General Musharraf, hijacked his plane and tried to send it to India. Bizarre is a word not unknown to us.
4. They succeeded in showing Imran Khan’s KPK provincial government as incompetent.
5. They succeeded in ending Imran’s protests against election fraud and prevented the shutting down of the country on December 18. This has helped Nawaz Sharif more than the terrorists. Perhaps it also gave Imran the chance to get out of a blind alley because he wouldn’t ratchet up his protest by storming the citadels of the great. He is convinced that this system can put him in office through honest elections, little realising that honest elections aren’t possible in this system.
Who does it benefit, advertently or inadvertently?
1. The government under inordinate pressure, though I am not suggesting for a moment that it was behind the massacre.
2. India, for it would love Nawaz Sharif to remain in office and continue his India-pandering. I am certainly suggesting that India might be behind the dastardly deed, as it has been behind many before.
3. Afghanistan perhaps for it makes Pakistan more dependent on its cooperation.
Establish summary courts run on due process with one appeal. Implement sentences immediately so terrorists don’t sit in jail foisting hell
Whose fault is it? It is our collective fault for not standing up to state and non-state terrorism and not supporting something good when it is being done. We opposed President Musharraf when he tried to cleanse the Lal Masjid of terrorist mullahs not because we like them but because we hated Musharraf more. We supported chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry when Musharraf sacked him not because we liked him but because we liked Musharraf less. A confused ‘elected’ government restored Iftikhar Chaudhry and his cohorts who in turn restored the terrorist Mullah Burqa to Lal Masjid. Today he supports the school massacre as justified reaction to the army’s anti-terrorist operation in North Waziristan and government lets him be. That people are protesting outside the mosque means that they have finally woken up and are learning. They should storm it and do what Musharraf was forced to leave undone. Refuse to pray in the mosque until it is purified and cleansed of these Devil’s demons.
The deficiency of testosterone producing orbs primarily afflicts our politicians, pseudo intellectuals, most male media anchors and analysts. Our religious leaders are semi-literate and so mentally challenged that they twist the Word of God to achieve their ends, shamelessly preach it and act against the Word of God, like “though shalt not kill” for killing one human being is akin to killing the whole of humanity. Fazlur Rahman who exploits religion for his politics and has the temerity to call himself ‘Maulana’ says his heart beats as one with the Taliban. Today to save his politics he says that killing children is not Jihad. Haven’t children been killed by terrorists before you moron?
An angry lady messaged the growing national sentiment to me: “Children were shot in the face. Children were shot in the head. Children were dragged out from under the chairs, under the tables, and shot. At pointblank. Methodically. Coldly. Clinically. To avenge the deaths of militants who were wreaking havoc on innocent Pakistanis in myriad acts of terror. It’s retribution, they say.
“I have nothing to say here. You call yourself a Muslim and yet you do what Allah forbids you to do: to perpetrate a war in His name where you kill children. Where you kill people who have never harmed you. You are not just Pakistan’s enemies but you are also your own worst enemy.
“Before a court penalises you, before the bullet of a soldier kills you, you will die a thousand deaths. The screams of the children you killed today, the wails of the parents whose children you killed today, the pain of the nation whose young you killed today will not let you be in peace. Until you die.
“Words have lost their value to express the magnitude of the damage done to the hearts and souls of a common Pakistani. May Allah SWT rest the innocent departed souls in peace in heaven and give courage and forbearance to the bereaved families to bear this colossal loss. Ameen. I feel extremely sorry for every Pakistani mother especially for those who have lost their treasures of a lifetime. May Allah protect our children.
“First step: Mr Prime Minister we don’t need statements from you. Stop showing your sorrow and stop these sorry statements. Within this week announce hanging of the 500 plus terrorists under custody and hang them publicly. We don’t need your wordy pious statements. The whole nation should ask only one thing: public hanging of the arrested terrorists. Our slogan for the campaign against terrorism and terrorists for the government and the armed forces is: ‘An Eye for an Eye. A tooth for a tooth. Hang them all. Hang ’em High.”
The intrepid Muhammad Hanif wrote: “There is no need to offer prayers for the souls of the children killed in Peshawar. What possible sin could 16-year-olds have committed? Pakistan’s political and military leadership is requested not to worry about the children’s afterlife. When they raise their hands in prayer, they should pray for their own forgiveness. And they should look at their hands closely, lest they be stained with blood.” I would add from Macbeth: “Out, out damned spot.”
I am not done.