Kashmir is Organic, not manicured: Imtiaz Ali…/ Rashmi Talwar


Kashmir is Organic Not Manicured :Imtiaz Ali

Kashmir is Organic Not Manicured :Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali

Don’t go by the Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali’s golly-lock looks, neither by his humble demeanor, underneath lies a sharp mind and heart that not only explodes in cinematic best in such blockbusters like ‘Jab we met’, ‘Rockstar’ and recent ‘Highway’ but has brought Kashmir once again on the tourist circuit in more ways than one. Apart from highlighting virgin landscapes, the film Rockstar had Nargis Fakri attired in kurtas and shawls in exquisite Kashmiri embroidery. RASHMI TALWAR caught Imtiaz Ali in Srinagar (Kashmir), while he was shyly treading the celebrity tourism path chalked out by Jammu & Kashmir’s Tourism cell.

Q1. Don’t you think other countries with similar luxuriant landscapes could offer better locales than Kashmir?
Ans: There couldn’t be a single film maker who doesn’t want to shoot in Kashmir. In my movies, I have shown not even five percent of Kashmir. Nothing can match Kashmir and its endearing backdrops or its innocence. My top priority would be Kashmir compared to any other part of the world as beautiful as they may be. If I may put it in a few words which I know would not suffice the emotional bonding I have towards it, I could say –‘Kashmir is organic, it’s not manicured’ that is why it is so special.


Q2. Was it an effort to promote the place you fell in love with, even though you are not of it?

Ans: I didn’t do film shoots here with a conscious effort to promote Kashmir. It just happened and I am happy it did. Punjab has its own flavors and one can see a lot of Punjab in Yash Chopra’s films, plus Punjab is the current flavor too. I used Punjab in ‘Jab we met’ but in terms of visual beauty Kashmir is matchless.

Q3. Kashmir is indeed lucky to have you?
Ans: No, I consider myself the lucky one that I was able to shoot in Kashmir and not the other way around. I come here to fulfill my greed. I had no clue that showing Kashmir would develop as vast an expanse as it eventually did and I am indeed humbled by the response. There is immense talent in this place. I once did an impromptu short film ‘window seat’ of only five and a half minutes duration and a shikarawala sang a song in it. With a mere back score and sound of rippling water it caught the limelight on you tube. The film revolved along the varied touristy experiences of the shikarawala. The impromptu song by the shikarawala Habibullah Butt, of Dandi, became the highlight of the film. Even now Butt rows the shikara in the Dal Lake.

Q4. What level do you give to music in your films?
Ans: Music is very vital to my films as it is to the entire spectrum of Indian movies. I am very particular about the background scores, the soundtracks, the song and the lyrics. They should not only gel together to bring forth the story but in places I have chosen them for the sheer effect of the travails. I try not to insert a playback singer’s voice that does not match the character’s personality, even though I may be emotionally affected by it. I try to use it appropriately; rest is up to the Almighty.

Q5. You think you have something unique in you that other directors may not have?

Ans: Yes, I have an e-mail address ‘standingingalerybelow’ (smiles) and it has a unique story. A girl who once worked with me kept this name for our production house’s email, because in all my films there was always a character under the gallery. When she left, she gifted me the email and ever since it has become my prized personal email.

Q6. Can I safely address you as a hit director given the fact that you have had a string of blockbusters in a short span?
Ans: I never know if my work would be attractive to my audience or hit the dust. There are always layers and layers in creating a film. It is the script, the storyline, the conception, writing, presentation, direction and final outcome and no one knows whether it will click or turn into a flop. Yes, instinct is very much present but instinct and period, beyond that I don’t think. That is how I make it; the end result is not something that I or anyone can predict.

Q7. Which one of the actresses would you prefer Aaliya Bhatt or Kareena Kapoor? Do you like happy or prefer open endings where audience draw their own conclusions?

Ans: Aalia was amazing. In every new shot she surprised me during the making of ‘Highway’. Kareena is of course more experienced and is a very good actress. I haven’t experimented much with open endings I don’t feel there is a choice in a storyline. Whatever the story demands I meander it that way.‘Rockstar’ had a tragic ending, ‘Highway’ had a good one so did ‘Jab we met’.
Q8. What is lacking in Bollywood today? Is there anyone you would love to work with?

Ans: Bollywood is missing out on the strength of good writers. Strong storylines are missing. I would have loved to work with Dalip Kumar; he is one of the greatest actors India has seen. But I do not foresee my dream coming true.
Q9. Do you take time or make instant decisions? Which one would you consider for a re-make of an old or a regional hit?
Ans: I take snap decisions. I don’t linger around too much (running his fingers in his curly hair and giving it a gentle flick). I find no fun in remakes or rehashing old stuff be it songs or stories. There is a whole world of new stories.
I love to make movies on human interest stories where characters are vital and I choose them with care. I would however love to make a character movie someday like Farhan Akhtar’s–Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Also I would try a period film someday in the backdrop of Mughal period when Urdu was developing and poets were writing in mixed languages, the period of Hazrat Aamir Khusro, the emergence of Hindustani music.

Q10. Any love interest in your life? What are your views on marriage?
Ans: No, I wouldn’t like to talk about my love interest. Marriage is very difficult; people should go into it on their own risks.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON JUNE 29, 2014 ON PAGE 7
URL :http://www.risingkashmir.com/kashmir-is-organic-not-manicured-imtiaz/

Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky at Kheer Bhawani…/ Rashmi Talwar


Photo & Caption  by Ravinder Kaul: Taken at a Tea Shop, at Mata Kheer Bhawani, two elderly gentlemen deeply immersed in an intimate chat, completely oblivious of the Mela or the world. I returned to the shop after two hours and found them sitting exactly in the same posture. I clicked their pictures but they did not come to know of it until I told them. One a Kashmiri Pandit another a Kashmiri Muslim were former colleagues and neighbors and were meeting after 25 years. Looking at them I felt-“There’s still hope in this world”.

Photo & Caption by Ravinder Kaul: Taken at a Tea Shop, at Mata Kheer Bhawani, two elderly gentlemen deeply immersed in an intimate chat, completely oblivious of the Mela or the world. I returned to the shop after two hours and found them sitting exactly in the same posture. I clicked their pictures but they did not come to know of it until I told them. One a Kashmiri Pandit another a Kashmiri Muslim were former colleagues and neighbors and were meeting after 25 years. Looking at them I felt-“There’s still hope in this world”.



Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky: Kheer Bhawani

Rashmi Talwar

‘Naabad rang Poenye’! ‘Naabad rang Poenye’! (The color of water is Mishri- crystallized sugar) Kashmiri Pandits exclaimed in subdued glee. Kashmiris are hardly boisterous unlike Punjabis who would break into a Bhangra or Buraaaah, Jhappis and Pappis to express their delight. Yet their sense of bonhomie is apparent.

It is a different matter that on this very day, swords came out and lathis were freely used, blood spilled, amongst Sikhs in the premises of Amritsar’s revered Golden Temple- the seat of Sikhism, in the presence of Holy Book- Guru Granth Sahib, while observing a mourning for those who died in Op Bluestar, 30 years ago.

Coming back to Kashmir, the color of water of the sacred spring of Kheer Bhawani on this day, is symbolic, the milky tint, signifying good tidings for the year ahead. Mata Kheer Bhawani bestows her blessings, was the cheer, seen in the smiles of thousands of Kashmiris. Kashmiri Pandits from all parts of the world converge to this sacred spot, 27 Kms from Srinagar, every year to celebrate Jyeshtha Ashtami, the eighth day of the Jyeshtha month of Hindu lunar calendar.

It wasn’t as if the Pandits alone felt blessed by the water’s light tinge, Kashmiris in general, especially the older generation, too seemed to have prayed for pastel colors for the spring waters. Kashmiris can hardly forget the reddish and blackish hue of the holy waters in early 90’s that left them tattered and shattered, destroying almost everything they possessed, even the cravings for grasses and greenery, fruits and hills, scents and fragrances, home and hearth as well as trust and faith. They talked amongst their own, but weary eyes looked fervently in search for someone familiar from their happy past.

Elderly Kashmiri Muslims too come here with the same searching eyes, looking for their neighbors, friends or childhood buddies who had migrated in the early 1990s. Since migration, many cried a million tears over the tearing separation from friends, from beloved homes, the elixir waters, scented winds, fragrant flowers, juicy fruits and chirping birds while those left behind cried the same for lost warmth, friendship, kinship, sharing, camaraderie, heart to heart and especially Kashmiri Pandit Master Jees and Behan Jees, in schools.

Ganderbal District’s Tulamulla Mela reverberates with temple bells, beckoning Muslim neighborhoods to take a peek. Fascinated children, gather around the cooling shades of dozens of Chinar trees and muster up the courage to talk to Pandits, to ask them about their rituals, customs, their whereabouts and even why they don’t come back. Mostly they are too timid and would run away even with mere aim of cameras, but someone from them does come forward and the rest giggle.

Red ‘chunaris’ take on the wind and fly with their ends tied to the bark of a tree, reminding the reigning deity ‘Ragnya Bhagwati’ of a promise made by a devotee or a gift pledge to another. The scents of agarbatti or incense, dhoop, colorful Puja thalis with flowers, milk, ‘kandh’(bar of sugar), Kheer- rice pudding offered as Prasad, the thali also consisting of mauli- sacred thread, tilak- anointing saffron sandal paste, fresh water and other pooja saamagri or worship kit, that flows easily from devotee to devotee at stalls and shops owned and run exclusively by Kashmiri Muslims outside the shrine. Thousands of ‘Ratandeep’ (ghee-filled diyas), glitter bringing with them hope and cheer for devotees wherever they dwell.

Interestingly, Jai Gopal, a Pandit, conducting rituals at Kheer Bhawani says, “The Puja thalis are paid for only after the thali is returned to the shop keeper”. “This is tradition and has continued for eons and there has never been a chance when a devotee made off with a thali or evaded payment thus”, the shrine Pandit adds. This is indeed true, when I last visited the Kheer Bhawani shrine during an off season detour, I was surprised about this matter of faith and trust of post payments, that is perhaps seen no where in the world.

Fragrance of Hawan ‘saamagri’ or fire-offerings consisting of dried flowers, leaves, stems and roots collected from surrounding forests and other assorted material has a mandatory inclusion of lotus seeds (Pambuch) known to ward off evil spirits. At 32 degree centigrade, the holy environs here remain cool with the canopy of Chinars, some of whose branches touch the cooling waters nearby.

Ravinder Kaul, a freelance journalist, clicked a photograph of a Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslim engrossed in conversation for hours at the Mela, unconcerned about the colorful revelry and melodious ‘Bhajans’ that soothed the air. This photograph posted on the FB, received over 1000 likes and comments and more than 245 shares, thereby emerging as a fountain of hope, of ties, of heart strings, impossible to break between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits, despite troubled times of the past.

Governor of the state NN Vohra took a stroll and Yasin Mallik a politician advocating freedom from India, Congress leader Saifuddin Soz as well as PDP’s senior leaders were seen in bear hugs with fellow Kashmiris, urging them to return to the beauteous Valley. No one seemed to be convinced even as stalls by most political parties the PDP, Congress, National Conference dot the venue. Also true to the festive spirit were stalls by Kashmir police for assistance, RBI and J&K Bank for financial awareness programmes, Civil Defense, Traffic Police, Health Services, Tourism, Medical and others. The spirit of brotherhood however lives on with Broadway Hotel, Civil, Secretariat employees and Swami Vivekananda Mission, Nagdandi providing free food for all devotees.

Some reminiscenced about good times when families lived in houseboats for a week to participate in the grand fair. They all join in “puran ahuti” or the final offerings and “saamoohik aarti” or collective prayers, knowing fully well that chances of their return were hardly bright. The fair gives this alienated community, a chance to touch roots. For a day, the spirit soars high and faith keeps its beauteous moorings all through the year,

The writer can be emailed at: rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com
FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON JUNE 11, 2014
URL: http://epaper.risingkashmir.com/PopUp.aspx?RVuQxlx8PdnfpjhWvdz_ppAQ_ep_ep

Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir


Indian Journalists ousted from Pakistan May 2014

Indian Journalists ousted from Pakistan May 2014


Indo-Pak Relations

Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?

Rashmi Talwar

May 19th saw two Indian journalists working in Pakistan cross over to their home country from Pakistan. Snehesh Alex Philips of Press Trust of India came through Wagah-Attari Indo- Pak Joint Check Post land route in Amritsar, and Meena Menon from ‘The Hindu’ via Karachi to Mumbai flight. The two, Snehesh and Meena are completely baffled by their unceremonious and sudden ouster from Pakistan, refusing extension of visa, barely nine months after their tenure in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The move to oust Indians by Pak’s foreign office despite Islamabad government’s perceived desire for healthier relations with India is indeed ironic. Infact, newly re-elected Pak PM Nawaz Sharief’s friendly overtures towards India, especially the desire to re-build relations came soon after Sharief’s utterance in Muzaffrabad (Pak Occupied Kashmir) calling ‘Kashmir a flashpoint that could trigger a 4th war between the two nuclear powers at anytime, on Dec 3rd last year’ that peeved India and had to be glossed over. Mending fences after the loud rhetoric, Nawaz tried to smoothen frayed nerves in India. However his desires on cordial relations seem to have ‘irked’ the ‘establishment’ aka ‘Military /Security’, says Mehmal Sarfraz, Deputy Secretary General of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA).

Hence merely days after the ouster of two journalists, the Pak PM is again at pains to push the perceived enmity under the carpet, by being the first to congratulate and extend an invitation to the Indian PM designate Narinder Modi after the stupendous win of Bharatiya Janta Party headed by Modi.

Pak ‘establishments’ have always played spoilsports whenever popular home governments have shown a leaning towards bettering Indo-Pak ties. Hence, the assassination attempt of Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir, who was badly injured on April 19th this year in an armed attack, near Karachi airport, was hardly surprising. ISI agency was fuming about Mir’s coverage of the issue of Baluchistan and his criticism of the spy agency. Hamid was termed a pro-India agent in Pakistan by many, as Baluchistan is an issue that India takes up in retort to Pakistan. The subsequent move by Pak Defense Ministry’s cancellation of the broadcasting license of three – Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez TV out of five TV channels owned and operated by Geo/Jang group, through ‘Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’ (PEMRA), have clearly spelled out the persons behind the murderous attack.

While Indian Journalist Snehesh Alex Philips snapped “Its a million dollar question!” when I asked him ‘why’ he was shown the door by Pakistan, along with Meena, the answer, it seems is not so mysterious. SAFMA Gen Sect Mehmal adds – “This happened last year too with Rezaul and Anita Joshua. The ‘establishment’ wants to throw around its weight by not letting Nawaz’s government to get its own way vis-à-vis peace with India. The timing seems too suspicious, when India is looking forward to NDA led by BJP- seen as a Hindu nationalist party.”

Pakistan’s army chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s terming Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan, on May 1st at GHQ Rawalpindi, also comes in the same sequence, as peace with India is seen as a weakening of the military establishment in Pakistan. Interestingly, Gen Sharief is mentored by ex- Pak President Parvez Musharaff –the architect of Kargil war when Nawaz was the PM of Pakistan. While two statements regarding Kashmir have been made by Pakistan consecutively, to rabble rouse Kashmiris in India, it had little effect in Jammu & Kashmir where most separatists sloganeer for ‘Independence’ rather than melting in Pakistan.

India has termed the ouster of two journalists as a retrograde step. Snehesh Philip’s father, AJ Philips- a noted columnist and senior Journalist-writer stated that the signs were obvious when his son’s wife was not given a visa after she visited India in January this year. Although there is a written agreement between Pakistan-India governments for a reciprocal arrangement allowing two correspondents from each country to be stationed in the other’s capital, the timing of the ouster is being speculated viz-a-viz a new government under Narinder Modi. Modi’s potential foreign policy has caused both anxiety and hope among regional observers. Many fear he might react badly to any incident of terrorism within India, routinely blamed on Pakistan, or a flare-up over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Like it or not, if Sharif is to deliver on his promises and ensure Pakistan’s progress, he will have to deal with NDA (National Democratic Alliance (NDA). By the journalists’ ouster, Pakistan’s ‘establishments’ have provided more fodder to anti-Pak rhetoric by the newly formed BJP-led Indian government which would further demoralize the elected government of Sharief.

Murtaza Solangi, a former head of state-run Radio Pakistan, pitches that he fears the decision to oust Indian journalists was a sign that the country’s powerful military establishment was reasserting over key areas of foreign policy, in particular the relationship with India. “It seems like foreign policy and national security is going out of the domain of Mr Sharif,” he said. In other words – “The government has been told ‘these things are not your job’.” A case in point is about another journalist. Despite repeated public promises by PM Sharief to look into the case of Declan Walsh, a New York Times journalist, expelled shortly before Sharif’s election, the Pak PM has not been able to arrange his return.

Hence it seems that power may actually be slipping out from the hands of Sharief and it was up to Pak PM to handle this mess or fall into ignominy, with fears of another bloodless military coup hanging over his head, yet again.

BOX
Indian journalists complained of heavy surveillance and being confined to Islamabad
Tweets —–

Achutha Menon: Good beginning, Mr Sheriff, with BP Govt.!
Snehesh Alex Philip: Had a lovely run since August in this case, not even a year ;). Came with an open mind without bias.
Snehesh Alex Philip: I take back home some great moments besides a bit of disappointment. Glad that I saw different sides of Pak and not the usual.
A.J. Philip (Philip’s father): Snehesh says the Pakistanis feared his Facebook-addict father’s posts led to his “expulsion”. I wish it was not a humorous comment and, for once, he was serious!
Snehesh Alex Philip: It is a joke I cracked with my dad.
Snehesh had retweeted some posts lauding Modi’s victory as anticipated by exit polls.
Meena Menon had retweeted: PM’s special envoy stirs hornet’s nest with Kashmir remarks days before Manmohan Singh demits office
Meena had even kept her tweet name ‏@mee’namo’

The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON MAY 24, 2014
URL: http://www.risingkashmir.com/indo-pak-relations/

Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan/ By Rashmi Talwar


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Ahmed Javed Hassan owner Servis shoes in his Palatial home in Lahore

Ahmed Javed Hassan owner Servis shoes in his Palatial home in Lahore, Pakistan

Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan

Army in Pakistan may have fewer weapons than civilians

RASHMI TALWAR

If any footsteps tiptoed in Pakistan with fancy footwear it was either from Bata or Pakistan’s foremost Servis shoes. While many became paupers due to Indo-Pak partition, Servis Industries never gave up and entered the newly born Pakistan’s market with its brand of shoes that competed with the only other brand existing at the time.
Today into big time, the scion of the Servis Industries has held high the flag of his company. Chaudhary Ahmed Javed Hassan owner of ‘Servis Shoes’ is a popular figure across both partitioned borders of India and Pakistan. His Dahlia flower saplings come in hundreds from India during the planting season, people bring him Amritsaris fish, ladoos and mathees from India and as a grand patriarch, he distributes the goodies among all his friends and relatives. As he talked about their multi-billion dollar company that still rules the local and international markets, he also revealed to RASHMI TALWAR in his palatial home in Lahore, Pakistan, how unlicensed guns were the biggest trauma and challenge of Pakistan.

Q: What is the success story of Servis Industries more popularly known as Service Shoes now?

Ans: The story of ‘Servis’ began with three freshers from college, who set up the Servis Industries before partition in 1941 in Lahore. They were Ch Nazar Muhammad, Chaudhary Muhammad Hussain (my father) – both from Gujarat and Chaudhary Muhammad Saeed from Gujranwala. They flourished and their products of handbags and sports goods became popular all over India.
Then partition happened and only Bata was there in the shoe industry when we entered. Initially we started with military boots for the army as well as canvas beddings and hold-alls in 1948-49, soon after partition. Then came daily shoes and later fancy shoes. The material for footwear was imported from Europe and it used to be very costly. I joined the family business in 1966 by which time Servis shoes had arrived and established.

Q: How do you describe your company’s presence in terms of global status?

Ans: From a single retail footwear outlet, our brand has more than 400 stores in Pakistan. More than 2000 dealer-base, and a growing international footprint in Europe, Middle East, and many other regions of the world. Today, the the company produces world-class shoes, tyres, tubes, and rubber in its units in Gujarat and Muridke. Servis is an exporter of footwear has also developed brand partnerships with international brands like Hush Puppies, Nike, Urban Sole, Pierre Cardin. Our proudest moment was that Servis won FPCCI Trophy for six times for ‘Best Export Performance’.

Q: Your Lahore factory faced closure in Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law?

Ans: We took on governments during all martial law regimes in Pakistan. We did not abide by any instructions that went contrary to law. One particular incident is when we preferred to close our Lahore unit instead of bowing down to pressure.
This was during the reign of Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan who was then the 14th governor of Punjab province during the military rule of President Gen Zia-ul- Haq, when we defied and eventually declared a shut down of our unit.
Gilani started issuing us instructions about whom to employ and whom to dismiss. When Gilani ordered us to take back 15 employees out of the 200 we had dismissed. We told him we shall re-employ 185 back but would not take back the select 15 he had specified. Eventually we sold off the Lahore unit after the closure and set up at Muridke.

Q: How do you describe the period from Gen Ayub Khan to Bhutto’s times?

Ans: Gen Ayub was the military dictator from 1958 until he was forced to resign in 1969. During Gen Ayub’s times, earlier, things were cheap and rather peaceful.

Post the 1965 war and during 1966, street protests started due to general scarcity following the war. Instead of appeasing the public by some benevolent means, Gen Ayub started making petty money and became unpopular. I too became a student leader then and led a street demonstration in Gujarat.

Then came Yahya Khan in 1969, Yahya dissolved the Ayub government and declared martial law for the second time in Pakistan’s history. Eventhough in 1970 he held the first free elections, that saw Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s political party Awami League party in East Pakistan win the majority but Yahya was pressured by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose party had won in West Pakistan but had less votes. Under this pressure, Yahya decided to delay handing over the reins of power to Mujib. Thus, civil unrest erupted all over East Pakistan, Yahya tried to smother the rebellion and also fell into disgrace over the defeat in 1971 war against India and Bhutto came to power and formed the government with his Pakistan’s People’s Party and placed Yahya under house arrest. This is of course history. but on the economic front Bhutto nationalized industries such as Ghee manufacturing, foundaries, banks; healthcare, educational and therefore new entrepreneurs were discouraged to set in new industry or other service facilities. Hence unemployment rose sharply. Bhutto’s aura fell and he was dethroned by Zia-ul –Haq in a bloodless coup by alleging rigging in elections that Bhutto won. Since it was the case of ‘my (Zia’s) neck or his (Bhutto’s) neck’. Zia got Bhutto executed.

Q: Did any emotional wave of sympathy come after Bhutto was hanged?
Ans:
Not much because then as Bhutto had become unpopular and Zia ruled with an iron hand. Later Benazir unleashed the emotional quotient by reminding people of the Bhutto legacy of sacrifices. Later she too was assassinated and that catapulted her husband Asif Ali Zardari to power, as the world knows.

Q: How did you manage during Zia-ul-Haq’s regime?
Ans: Zia was no maulvi. He was a liar and never stood by his words. It was the worst period for Pakistan. He exploited religious sentiments to fight the war against Russian occupation of Afghanistan for America. He created the Punjabi Taliban, exploited youth and made them fanatics by saying ‘Jihad karo, Jannat mein Hurrein hongi tumhare liye’ (Fight the Jihad and you will be treated to beautiful women in the Heavenly Paradise). He deliberately created illiteracy to exploit youth. America used him and then lumped him off in an air crash along with one of their own Ambassadors.
During Zia’s reign came the ‘weaponry’. As America provided arms and ammunition to Pakistan to fight the Russians, the guns found their way into homes of warlords and private armies came into power especially in the rural belts. Every house had guns including automatic or semiautomatic. Obviously these guns went into wrong hands. Even though government can try but these guns will never be surrendered now or ever. They are used freely and the assailants dare and slip away. If police or security comes after them, they give them back in a formidable fight.
Even in villages they have Uzis’, Kalashnikovs, AK series, anti-tank guns and shoulder missiles and launchers. Fighters from Chechnya also joined in the fight. That time ISI too got a free hand. It was not reporting to anyone and was getting back channel support from America.
Zia always had double standards. Today Pakistan faces the biggest challenge of domestic arms and ammunition. In Pakistan, cities have smaller sophisticated weapons and crime is abundant. The availability of arms is not an issue. They are easily available to whosoever has the price to pay for them. The general feeling is if one doesn’t keep arms and ammunition one becomes vulnerable to those who do. This is the vicious circle that Pakistan faces and no solution can be found to it. The arms are hidden, whenever government announces civilians to surrender weapons. These very guns from America were diverted to fight in Kashmir. Interestingly army in Pakistan may have fewer weapons and civilians may have more.

Q: Do you also keep guns? (I ask sheepishly)
Ans: I do not wish to comment on that.

India & Pakistan/ Bonds of Culture / AG Noorani


India &Pakistan

India &Pakistan

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE FRONTLINE ON APRIL 4, 2014

URL:http://www.frontline.in/world-affairs/bonds-of-culture/article5787758.ece#test

Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team../Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir


Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team

Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team

Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team

Rashmi Talwar

I have read multiple view points emerging about the recent Kashmiris cheering Pakistan episode. Of special mention is the article ‘Of Sedition and Cricket’ by Shujaat Bukhari. It is well written and the writer has brought all aspects of the mindset of Kashmiri youth. However, it fails to make inroads into the mind of other Indians and the reason for discriminatory behavior towards the youth of the valley per se.
My personal view is the government has been unnecessarily harsh on Kashmiri students, with 67 of them booked under seditious charges, who also faced suspension by a Meerut University.
It is hard to dig deep into the heart of any Kashmiri by others in India every time he or they commit a faux pas. Dictionary defines a faux pas as a socially awkward or tactless act, especially one that violates accepted social norms, standard customs, or the rules of etiquette. “People only see the overt face value!” is what the world says. They have little time to spare to dig into your psyche, your history and your compulsions to understand and condone the acts.

Say for example – If, I was to shout at my wife in front of train passengers. Everyone will hold the view that ‘I am a bad tempered man’. They will not dive for reasons why I displayed such behavior publicly no matter how right I may be and how wrong my wife may have been.

Coming back to sports – can an American cheer for a Russian team in a match between the two countries? I don’t think even multicultural Americans, who hold civil liberties and freedom close to their heart and call themselves a civilized nation, can digest that in their country in an open platform against their rivals. It is difficult to explain to the rest of India why Kashmiri students cheer for Pakistan against India. When I queried about this cheering, a Kashmiri youth once told me ‘It is tradition in Kashmir to cheer for Pakistan.’
‘Aap nahi samjhoge’ (you’ll not understand). I asked him an explanation, he had none.

Another significant point, Shujaat’s article raises, and this may find resonance in Kashmir too; he writes, “One interesting thing has come up after the Meerut incident. Some of the students who are studying there have gone under Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme, which means that their study is fully funded. But even that has not helped them change their ideology.”

To this, I respectfully ask, “Why do the students accept the largesse if they detest the benefactor of these benevolent schemes. Do they have it in them to reject such schemes or not to apply for them?”

This pattern, reminds me of a recent case of Rachel Canning, an 18-year-old from New Jersey, who sued her parents. The parents said that their daughter Rachel voluntarily left their home after refusing to abide by the house rules. Rachel’s dad Sean told New York’s CBS 2-. “There’s minor chores. There’s curfews. When I say curfew, it’s usually after 11 o’clock at night. She does not want to abide by these rules or pitch in for house chores” In the lawsuit, Rachel asked a court to have her parents pay the outstanding dues for school; pay her future living and transportation expenses, her legal bills etc.
The judge shot down her plea and stated “Do we want to establish a precedent where parents are living in constant fear of establishing basic rules of the house?” Judge Bogaard said in the hearing. “If they set a rule a child doesn’t like, the child can move out, move in with another family, seek child support, cars, cell phone, and a few hundred grand to go to college? Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an X-box? For 13-year-olds, to sue for an i-Phone?”
In other words, Rachel wanted all rights without any duties or responsibility. In the current scenario, do we as self-respecting individuals need to introspect that duties, responsibilities and rights go hand in hand.

It is my opinion that not only in India but in any country it would be a digression to see any local or others cheering for an arch rival against the home country. And here in India, cheering a country with a long history of enmity and hatred in a public place is hardly becoming.

People visiting Kashmir from other states can be taken aback when they see Kashmiris cheering for Pakistan in Kashmir during sports matches, but if Kashmiris were to repeat this sentiment elsewhere in the country in public, it could hardly be expected to find favours.

Not just India, but in any other developed countries too it would be hard for the local populace to tolerate even a tourist cheering for his own country team in their country or worse if a tourist cheered an enemy country against a home country team in public. One has seen many fights erupting in sports stadiums world over even though groups are cheering their own home teams.

Somewhere cheering for Pakistan is the result of a deep rooted mindset, in Kashmir valley. Even a small scuffle or heated word by security forces or police may raise hackles in Kashmir. The fact that the security forces have been harsh in public dealing in Kashmir cannot be denied. Hence, a mere security check is looked down upon as an affront, with little understanding that it may not be construed as humiliation but as a preventive measure for public safety. And, it is not as if the minor episode is confined to the particular point, the opportunity of weaving stories around it and making it into a full fledged magazine article is never lost. Many conflict zones exhibit this trend.

I have seen this pattern in Pakistan too. There too a minor episode is blown up with a disturbing and bechara aspect thrown in to create an emotive issue.
In the current scenario much of Pakistan’s public, especially, its dominant Punjab is strongly in favor of solving their home problems and moving forward on other issues with India without the Kashmir issue being a of core value. Time and again few Pak politicians raise the Kashmir issue for effect. Even Nawaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, did it sometime back but it caused more of a flutter in India than in Pakistan, a media person from across the border confided laughingly.

Noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Friday Times’- Najam Sethi, who became a caretaker Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab during general elections, bluntly states in television interviews that Kashmir has ceased to be a core issue for Pakistan.

Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV says Kashmir issue is no more an emotive issue that cuts any ice with the Television channel audience and carries very little interest amongst the Pakistani public. The Pak public today is more concerned and perturbed over their own grave problems of daily bombings and killings besides dealing with the Taliban on its western border and frontier provinces with Afghanistan.

Hereby self-respect has become the moot question for Kashmir. There is a country that hardly lays any store about past intimacy and here is one who cheers, holds and harps on about a romance refusing to believe it is lost.

Author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ 14 MARCH 2014
URL:http://www.risingkashmir.com/why-the-silence-all-these-years/

Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir? …/Rashmi Talwar


Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir?

Rashmi Talwar

The Aam Aadmi Party

The Aam Aadmi Party

Spectacular victory and occupying the throne of Delhi on their own terms, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sent ripples across the nation. By challenging the top powers in Delhi, AAP has taken the proverbial bull by its horns and is ready to make forays in other corners of the country. How it functions under Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership is yet to be seen, but in the first instance of a solid solution to a problem, Delhi’s new Chief Minister’s call to the public- ‘to set-up the briber’ ..Call a helpline number, help to catch briber red-handed and also get your work done’- has elevated his score amongst people smothered by corruption in government and public enterprises. Surely, the uprising and eventual victory of AAP has raised the imagination of the public in Jammu & Kashmir too, who face the frostbite of corruption in every nook and corner of daily life .

Towards the tail end of the year past, expectations have risen amongst Kashmiris, as the citadel of Congress – National Conference combine, is shaken to its core, by the AAP’s Delhi effect. It is not so much about which party comes tops in J&K in the forthcoming assembly elections 2014, but about the cleansing that has been necessitated in each party by the rise of the AAP’s popularity and its people friendly agenda. Also, it’s no more about just the roads, water supply, power cuts, human right issues and jobs in Kashmir, the public is now ready to follow the new formula – “If corruption is uprooted, all amenities and other redressals would conveniently and rightfully fall in public domain without begging”. Chiefly, because this is the basic right of the public, which has long been usurped by the ruling MLAs and MPs. It was as if the ruling echelon had turned into Gods and us into ‘lesser beings’, is the take of Kashmiri political leader.

At the time when Kashmir gears up for assembly polls, the mood is upbeat, the public is ready to showdown those who have misused powers, extended false promises, accumulated wealth, accused in various scams and such others, with a renewed vengeance. In other words, the choice would clearly be to root out corruption that eats into the vitals of each beneficiary of the state. Demands about transparency, accountability, good and fair governance, is ready to turn into a shout, if the Delhi-like unity and faith is propounded amongst voters of J&K, is the strongly feeling of the AAP brigade.

The Aam Aadmi Party

The Aam Aadmi Party


Each of the parties is rethinking their strategies, eventhough politics in Kashmir is known to be different from Delhi. It is also true that Delhi has hardly played fair with the Kashmiris- whether Kashmiri Muslims or Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus, the charge has been loud from both communities.

There has never been a better time for general acceptance of a good candidate compared to a more popular name or party, than now. This time the traditional political players may have to either drastically change or make place for new entrants, emboldened by the victory of AAP in Delhi. It is predicted that like Sheila Dixit, many bigwigs may bite dust in the 2014 polls. The “Yes we can” slogan, has come to rule in Indian politics too and the public has found its handles with vast possibilities of actually cleansing the system step by step. Even if 10 percent of change is seen in Delhi, AAP’s Kejriwal would be seen as a valued leader. Kejriwal’s out-of-the-box ideas, solutions and planning are inspiring, imaginative and practical, yet there are vital corners that need drastic cutting, measures and mind-set changes like ‘fake proofs’, ‘fake documentation’ scams wherein computer applications will be tapped to become a mouthpiece for transparency and hearing-aids for public health and discourse.

Similarly, alternatives mentioned already, may find a place in J&K as well. Clearly new entrants would be seen to benefit from this fresh wave. AAP is already tapping the Kashmiri populace through mass sms urging them to innumerate their problems and quote real-time incidents besides goading them to approach the Party. Since these mobile messages are being floated by in-house Kashmiris and Jammu wallas, aware of core issues, there is no reason why they would not find favor with the disgruntled public, who primarily wants to live a life of dignity. In the past many years most promises to the people of the state have fallen flat, stuck in the snows of distrust; it is hoped that year 2014 may bring in cheer. The mood is upbeat and political slogans may be more careful than careless.

It is hoped this time, that the bottled up ‘Yes we can’ may shoot forth into a sky-high fountain and burst into a rainbow, across the frozen mountain peaks of Jammu and Kashmir spreading colors and cheer all around, come election-2014.
Snapshot AAP effect Kashmir

00–00

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON January 2, 2014
url :http://epaper.risingkashmir.com/EPaper.aspx?9JzcJiP1d_bs8t0mjN1Oln6A_ep_ep

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Flickr Photos

Kashmir is Organic, not manicured: Imtiaz Ali…/ Rashmi Talwar

Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky at Kheer Bhawani…/ Rashmi Talwar

Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir

Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan/ By Rashmi Talwar

India & Pakistan/  Bonds of Culture / AG Noorani

Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team../Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir

Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir? …/Rashmi Talwar

Carrying forward a musical legacy..ABHAY RUSTUM SOPORI/ Rashmi Talwar

Beyond the Pappis and Jhappis …Stepping across the Radcliff line!../Rashmi Talwar

Real story behind the burning of Tydale Biscoe School, Tangmarg, Kashmir…/ By Rashmi Talwar

More Photos

http://saanjh.wordpress.com/press

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RSS Blog on Amritsar and Lahore

  • Kashmir is Organic, not manicured: Imtiaz Ali…/ Rashmi Talwar June 30, 2014
    Don't go by the Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali's golly-lock looks, neither by his humble demeanor, underneath lies a sharp mind and heart that not only explodes in cinematic best in such blockbusters like ‘Jab we met’, ‘Rockstar’ and recent ‘Highway’ but has brought Kashmir once again on the tourist circuit in more ways than one. Apart from highligh […]
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  • Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky at Kheer Bhawani…/ Rashmi Talwar June 11, 2014
    It wasn't as if the Pandits alone felt blessed by the water’s light tinge, Kashmiris in general, especially the older generation, too seemed to have prayed for pastel colors for the spring waters. Kashmiris can hardly forget the reddish and blackish hue of the holy waters in early 90’s that left them tattered and shattered, destroying almost everything […]
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  • Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir May 26, 2014
    May 19th saw two Indian journalists working in Pakistan cross over to their home country from Pakistan. Snehesh Alex Philips of Press Trust of India came through Wagah-Attari Indo- Pak Joint Check Post land route in Amritsar, and Meena Menon from ‘The Hindu’ via Karachi to Mumbai flight. The two, Snehesh and Meena are completely baffled by their unceremoniou […]
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  • Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan/ By Rashmi Talwar May 17, 2014
    If any footsteps tiptoed in Pakistan with fancy footwear it was either from Bata or Pakistan’s foremost Servis shoes. While many became paupers due to Indo-Pak partition, Servis Industries never gave up and entered the newly born Pakistan’s market with its brand of shoes that competed with the only other brand existing at the time. Today into big time, the s […]
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  • India & Pakistan/ Bonds of Culture / AG Noorani March 25, 2014
    FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE FRONTLINE ON APRIL 4, 2014 URL:http://www.frontline.in/world-affairs/bonds-of-culture/article5787758.ece#testFiled under: INDIA PAKISTAN Tagged: BONDS, culture, india, INDIA PAKISTAN, Pakistan
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  • Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team../Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir March 15, 2014
    It is hard to dig deep into the heart of any Kashmiri by others in India every time he or they commit a faux pas. In the current scenario, do we as self-respecting individuals need to introspect that duties, responsibilities and rights go hand in hand. “Why do the students accept the largesse if they detest the benefactor of these benevolent schemes. Do they […]
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  • Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir? …/Rashmi Talwar January 3, 2014
    There has never been a better time for general acceptance of a good candidate compared to a more popular name or party, than now. This time the traditional political players may have to either drastically change or make place for new entrants, emboldened by the victory of AAP in Delhi.
    Saanjh
  • Carrying forward a musical legacy..ABHAY RUSTUM SOPORI/ Rashmi Talwar December 25, 2013
    Abhay Rustum Sopori’s fusion composition emerged as one of the finest pieces of the concert. He stood undeterred in the midst of controversies raised by separatists. "Being a local Kashmiri, I could have developed cold feet due to the raging controversies but I stood my ground and fulfilled one of my greatest dreams of bringing Kashmiri music on the wor […]
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  • Beyond the Pappis and Jhappis …Stepping across the Radcliff line!../Rashmi Talwar December 25, 2013
    With both Punjabi Prime Ministers heading Pakistan-India and having ancestral cords in each other’s countries, the time may be ripe to make bold decisions and historical beginning with a clean end to hostilities. For long, both countries have tip-toed to each other’s lands with apprehensions and compulsions at the hand of their respective vote banks that pla […]
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  • Real story behind the burning of Tydale Biscoe School, Tangmarg, Kashmir…/ By Rashmi Talwar December 13, 2013
    Then what really took place that led to burning of Tyndale Biscoe's rural school located in Tangmarg? Shocking disclosure, of allegations against Tangmarg’s MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir alleged to be in cahoots with army and charged the winds of rebellion to oust the democratically elected government of NC- Congress headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has […]
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