Kashmir issue relegated to the back burner?—-By Rashmi Talwar, Amritsar & Lahore

KASHMIR DITCHED !

KASHMIR DITCHED !

Kashmir issue relegated to the back burner?

By Rashmi Talwar,
Amritsar & Lahore

At the 8th Regional Conference of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) held at Lahore, comprising media persons from eight South Asian SAARC countries, Kashmir issue appeared to have dimmed and become almost a non-issue.

SAFMA-2013 held its concluding session at Lahore, following its inaugural session in Amritsar wherein India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid floated the idea of ‘breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in yet another’ pushing forward for peace between the two neighbours.

However, in one of the most important panel discussions on the theme of ‘South Asian vision for an Economic Union’ in the presence of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of The Friday Times Najam Sethi,, Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV, besides Dr Ijaz Nabi Country Director, International Growth Centre, Pakistan, Kashmir issue took a back seat. It seemed that Kashmir was being clearly ditched by Pakistan!

For Kashmiris from India it came as big jolt to hear a Pak speaker say -“The totality of Indo-Pak relations cannot be linked to the single issue of Kashmir.” And further, to make their positions clearer, the speaker said–“We would like to see the welfare of Kashmiris by way of engaging in more trade between both Kashmirs, easing of visas for travel to each other’s places. However, at present, Pakistan has more pressing issues i.e. Indo-Pak trade, water and power generation, which we are greatly hopeful that peace between India and Pakistan is bound to bring in.” And all this time, Nawaz Sharif remained mum, clearly endorsing what was being said-and-missed, about Kashmir.

How would Kashmiris, who suffered for more than two decades aided by Pakistan to revolt against India, feel about this, I wondered. All this time, I had met many Indian Kashmiris, who came to Amritsar and looked longingly at Lahore, from the Indian side of the Attari-Wagha Indo-Pak border, during the beating retreat ceremony. Some, who sat glum during the retreat ceremony came close to grieving over being separated from Pakistan, lamenting that Kashmir on the Indian side, should have been a part of Pakistan.

One, who I met in Amritsar a few years ago, called the border an ‘unnatural divide’ and scoffed disgustedly –“if it were possible, India would station an army man in each Kashmiri kitchen”.

Numberless gullible Kashmiris, who ran the marathon to training camps across the border, were promised a glorious goal of Independence. They returned to fight, flush with money, arms and above all dreams of ‘holy war’ that would ensure a royal place in heavenly paradise for them in case they were ‘martyred’.

Many felt it was easy money and brain washed others to run their outfits in Kashmir with support from across the border. The more vitriolic ones became apples of the eyes of their masters as they fitted in their sinister plans.

There were others who fiercely wrote in newspapers about the atrocities on Kashmiris by security forces while ignoring or soft pedalling the atrocities by the militants. There were those who, while conversing with their counterparts in rest of the country, referred to anything Indian as ‘yours’ and anything Kashmiri as ‘ours’ .

All this while, they were filled with feeling of abhorrence for their present state. The army’s strong arm tactics aggravated the situation. Daily dirges and insults at the hands of the security forces had left them cold and concerned over their future and those of their children. Kashmiris found themselves on a cliff-hanger not knowing whether the militant or the army bullet would kill them.

When the initial itch over being freedom fighters faded and turned sore, the fallout of their actions spilled over. For some hardliners, a bleak future awaited so they tried to continue in their chosen destructive path, sure that their end would come painfully from either of the sides i.e. militants or army. It was a proverbial choice ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.

Others on the sidelines gave only lip service to their bravado and went on with their lives, availing all Indian government sponsored benefits and schemes while leaving them to struggle. Still, they hung on to their ally –Pakistan. Drawing strength and succor from the fact that Pakistan was still their well wisher.

Countless K-agendas raised at International forums by Pakistan had little impact although it endeared Pakistan to Kashmiris. However, Pakistan’s recent position on Kashmiris was shared with Rising Kashmir by a senior Pak bureaucrat who said – ‘Kashmiris had played a double game with them’.

He contended that while Pakistani side had lost more lives than Kashmiris, even as they had pumped in money, men and material as also feted and felicitated them, Kashmiris in turn joined the election process held by India, elected their leaders and lifted them on their shoulders. They availed all Indian government and army schemes.

‘They told us they are unable to offer Namaz in Indian side of Kashmir, but we have seen them freely doing so. They tell us their women are not safe, but their women are freely moving about, getting educated and showing no traces of fear’.

The Kargil misadventure in 1999, after nearly 10-years of turmoil in Kashmir, seemed like a shot in the arm for militants in Kashmir, who saw Pakistan as the saviour. Of course, the battle-end saw Pakistan faced with rebuke and reprimand, as also a royal ignore and the ultimate shaming by US – its funding ally that ultimately punctured its stature in global eyes. Alternately, under the leadership and statesmanship of Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kargil won India kudos for its restraint in the face of a sly enemy.

Pakistan used Kashmir to save the multitude of high profile chairs, raising the bogey of Kashmir, every time a crisis on home ground erupted. Kashmir served as a diversionary tactics, to gloss over faults of omission and neglect in Pakistan.

US too saw it being used by Pakistan who was trying to fulfil its Kashmir agenda on the pretext of Afghanistan’s occupation by USSR. Therefore, in time, USA too pulled itself out of the mire of Pak mechanizations, cut down its funding and ditched Pakistan partially as the Frankenstein monster of terrorism that it had created sought to feed onto its creator –Pakistan.

Having lost its financial conduit and faced with rebellion and insurgency in its troubled corners, as well as from insurgents it had created, Pakistan today is left with a choice to either save its own or that of Kashmir.

Perturbed over this stand of Pakistan to shelve the Kashmir issue, Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of English daily, ‘Rising Kashmir’ raised a query to Pakistan panel and especially to Nawaz Sharif –as one of Kashmiri origin, asking – “If Kashmir issue was to be sidelined thus, why were 23-years and lakhs of lives lost for this cause?” To which he got a reply that welfare of Kashmiris could be in softening of the LoC (line of control) and “not in transfer of territory”.

The sidelining of Kashmir was complete when even in his personal address Nawaz Sharif gave a miss to the Kashmir issue and stated “If voted to power as next President of Pakistan I would bring the same relationship of bonhomie between India and Pakistan as I and PM Vajpayee had brought in February of 1999 by starting the Sada-e-Sarhad, Indo –Pak bus service.”

The present scenario in Kashmir is that Kashmiri households that drilled anti- India venom are left with an educated new generation, many of whom have flown the nest, to seek wider horizons to further their aspirations of a good life, while those who remain are left alone to tend to their festering wounds. Those who supported them from the neighbouring country have now their own hands-full, fighting internal battles, dousing the monster of terrorism that they had created.

Nusrat Javed, the panelist when questioned on the sidelines of SAFMA to clarify the Pakistani stand on Kashmir, counter questioned –“I have a child in Baluchistan crying in pain, should I tend to ‘my’ child or a Kashmiri child?” As a host for a popular programme ‘Bolta Pakistan’ of Aaj TV, Nusrat said people in Pakistanis are least interested in Kashmir issue and his programme’s TRPs drop every time a topic related to Kashmir issue is aired.

It is a fact that Kashmir is fast losing out in terms of media interest in India too. Many foreign media organizations have bid goodbye to Kashmir- a hotbed of news, for past two decades. Reuters, BBC radio and TV, German owned Deutsche Welle , AFP have wound up from Kashmir. Others like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Time, and Guardian are granting fewer slots to news from Kashmir. It has therefore come as no surprise that Pakistan media too turned its face away to news emerging from Kashmir, which is being relegated to inner obscure corners of leading newspapers.

Mehmal Sarfarz a senior member of SAFMA said in clear terms that ‘Pakistan had decided to drop the issue of Kashmir long ago. If in 60 years, four wars could not solve it, what is the point in pursuing a lame dream, is what Pakistan has slowly realized. With internal problems becoming hard to handle who has the time or the money to fund Kashmir or Kashmiris?’

However there was one such who had the guts to say –“Only those who have been failures or those who set up shops on the ‘tears’ of Kashmir or accrued advantage from the Indo-Pak standoff on Kashmir are banking on continued enmity between both countries. The army in Pakistan is the major beneficiary of Indo-Pak rivalry, he said, because it is only because of the enmity between the two countries that it can retain its hold on the politics and administration of the country. The terrorist outfits in Pakistan are the other beneficiaries who would lose their raison d’etre in case both countries come closer to each other. “They are the ones desperate to sabotage the peace process and stoke the fires of hostility”, he said.

I know Indo-Pak peace would soon be a reality. This statement is not merely a conjecture or hope or guess but based on study of wider spectrum of world affairs, in which US seeks to strengthen and embolden the south Asian region against the growing power of China. China, which is fast emerging, as a bigger threat to US any other country in the world.

The border clash, inhuman torture and beheading of an Indian army jawan and retaliatory killing of Pakistan army man, has come as the most recent example of covert mechanizations. The killing of Kashmiri sarpanches, including shooting a lady sarpanch, are such incidents, which may slow down the peace process, but will not be able to derail it.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ ON JANUARY 15, 2013
http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kashmir-issue-relegated-to-the-back-burner-40044.aspx

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51 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rajbir Deswal on January 17, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Exhaustive , analytical and thought provoking article putting picture in the right perspective. Boldness seems to be the foray of the author. Thanks

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  2. Posted by Prabhjit Singh on January 16, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Rashmi, This article is surely important from the Indo-Pak perspective. The K-issue is the reality on which both the countries refuse to come on terms. But, ideological standings, keeping in mind the truth based on historical background, are missing on almost all the democratic platforms. Unfortunately, SAFMA is no exception, as I observed. As we witnessed whatever murmured on this key issue remained on the sidelines during the lunch breaks at the SAFMA session. No wording from the dais. Shujaat that way was right in raising his voice.

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    • Dear Prabjit Singh, Everything is about here and now .. and the fact is that the Pak incumbency as of now has given Kashmir a brush and are trying to drum up public support for their stand, by quietly giving the royal ignore to the MOST IMP issue that Pak has with India. What did u gather on the sidelines of SAFMA in Lahore and what are your personal views on the scenario ? I surely would be interested to know … Thanks so much for visiting this blog and commenting .. Rgds

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  3. Posted by Rajesh Pandit on January 16, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Really an eye opener ! Has anybody else highlighted the SAFMA conf held at Lahore ?

    Was surprised to read ” Nusrat said people in Pakistanis are least interested in Kashmir issue and his programme’s TRPs drop every time a topic related to Kashmir issue is aired.”

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Rajesh Pandit — Yes drunk or sober ..Nusrat said this infront of a number of us including shujaat

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    • Posted by Raju Moza on January 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Rajesh ji It means you dont read my comment seriouisly, in this forum, Ihave said this umpteen times, that average pakistani is no more interested , I said it on “the buck stops here” TV program – they have outgrown from the Makhbooza kashmir syndrome .. there is huge constituency of peace , tapping that constituence is the only panacea to the Indo pak problems . Not the belligerence of Your channel . Nation wants to know now

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      • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:46 PM

        Raju Moza perhaps u met the right average Pakistani who outgrew the Makbooza kashmir slogan but frankly i didnt meet any who would not take up for kashmir as in —-‘Kashmir Pakistan ka hai ‘…whenever I was in Pakistan …as if Kashmir was their wife and life … ha ha ha

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      • Posted by Rajesh Pandit on January 16, 2013 at 6:47 PM

        Raju Moza , may be even I don’t go with our own piagambers ..

        “There is huge constituency of peace , tapping that constituence is the only panacea to the Indo pak problems . Not the belligerence of Your channel . Nation wants to know now”

        May be Pakistan has overused Kashmir to a level when it has become boring, India has just started using it. Pakistan has realized the harm of being belligerent and India has realized how it pays by being belligerent.
        Indian have realized how ” Aman Ki Aasha” is just a stupid thing to believe.

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  4. Posted by Aalok Aima on January 16, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Rashmi Talwar It is a very important article. It should get wide coverage.

    One hopes Shujaat Bukhari will also comment . Has he written on this?

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    • Posted by Aalok Aima on January 16, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Rashmi Sahiba hum javaab ke muntazir hain.n …. has Shujaat Bukhari i Ji written on this? If not, one wonders why not.

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      • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        Aalok Aima Cos he wrote another piece and i wrote this Haha ha ha … Jokes aside ..Shujaat Bukhari can answer that question

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  5. Posted by Birinder R. Singh on January 16, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Loss of Pakistani interest will sadden some Kashmiri Muslims but not resolve their grievances.

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Birinder R. Singh — loss of support from Pak to kashmiris is a big jolt … grievances would be resolved with a humane touch .. in time

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  6. Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    The present scenario in Kashmir is that Kashmiri households that drilled anti- India venom are left with an educated new generation, many of whom have flown the nest, to seek wider horizons to further their aspirations of a good life, while those who remain are left alone to tend to their festering wounds. Those who supported them from the neighbouring country have now their own hands-full, fighting internal battles, dousing the monster of terrorism that they had created.

    elegant para

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    • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      Superb article.

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      • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        Khalid Shah –Txs dear

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        • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:24 PM

          Rashmi Talwar how do you think that recent sarpanch killing is related to Indo-Pak ties? enlighten me about this

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          • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:25 PM

            Khalid Shah– it has still not been established as to who the killers are … till then we have to hold our horses

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            • Posted by Sachiv Gupta on January 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM

              Rashmi Talwar…it has been established….as per Gen. Parniak…it was the work of some Local Criminals….and he also said…it might have the Millitancy angle as the criminals wud not be arrested by Police etc.

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              • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM

                Yes but the sarpanch killings have been going on since a long time. Presumably,prior to Indo-pak ties.

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                • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

                  Khalid Shah— Indo Pak CBMs have been going on for a long time … sarpanches have just been elected in 2011 …

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                  • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:32 PM

                    Rashmi Talwar i am not able to comprehend as to how sarpanch killings are related to Indo-pak ties. still thinking over it.

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                    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:33 PM

                      Most killings in Kashmir were attributed to militants whether they were or not … killing of panches was considered as an attack on the democratic process of elections that India successfully conducted in kashmir and after years panchayts were formed in villages … Assuming to disrupt the democratically elected — the killing of sarpanches or panches is a v serious issue … that could be attributed to those who donot want the democratic process to continue .. Khalid Shah

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                    • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:35 PM

                      Not a viable reason. there are other ways to destabilize the democratic process

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                    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:36 PM

                      Khalid Shah — Hope u know that logic is not at its optimum level wen illogical actions are perpetuated

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                    • Posted by Khalid Shah on January 16, 2013 at 6:37 PM

                      Hhmmmm

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  7. Posted by Sachiv Gupta on January 16, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Rashmi Talwar….as u and others said…it clearly seems that whole of the Pakistan and its economy, even related policies are based (if not entirely) but majorly on and for Kashmir….yes..they used to have a kind of upper hand till late 90s’ and begining 2000s’ but defintly not now….They actually dont have funds and even US is not giving them funds to do so….I mean to say…they just getting elected by placing Kashmir as issue…no hard and people oriented policies they have…they defntly going to loose everythng….A Failed state…and yes…some of them started yelling that Kashmiris played double game…well…they got…what they deserved..

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  8. Posted by Ashraf Bhat on January 16, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Pakistan, once an essential stakeholder, is currently struggling with its internal troubles and the reputation of a failed state. The current situation has disheartened a handful voices from Kashmir that once favored Pakistan. It would thus be prejudice to consider Pakistan still as a stakeholder, apart from the part of Kashmir they administer, which they call ‘azad Kashmir’.

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Ashraf Bhat—dear, for its entire history Pak has remained a failed state … it now that it has lost its close ally US , China is too foxy and Now that Pakistan has to clean up its own mess itself that pak has thrown out the issue of Kashmir like a fly from a glass of milk ..Doodh mein se makhi jese !

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      • Posted by Ashraf Bhat on January 16, 2013 at 6:19 PM

        Rashmi Talwar: The making and unmaking of nations and there by falling and raising of nations is purely based on ideas. An idea can built or destroy the nations and Pakistan is still in conceptualizing that ‘idea’.

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  9. Posted by Badri Nath Bhat on January 16, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    it is logical as long as kashmir problem pays dividend to pakistani establishment they would take it once it is punctured it will become flat.

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  10. Posted by Nb Vishen on January 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    When Mrs Khem lata wakhloo was kidnapped in 1990, she told Mr Yusuf Shah @ Sallahuddin, ‘godeh khei kashireiv hyundstanus vaelyng vaen khyen pakystanus’. Rashmi Talwar quotes a pak senior bureaucrat in rising kashmir 15 jan “Countless K-agendas raised at International forums by Pakistan had little impact although it endeared Pakistan to Kashmiris. However, Pakistan’s recent position on Kashmir was shared with Rising Kashmir by a senior Pak bureaucrat who said – ‘Kashmiris had played a double game with them’.
    He contended that while Pakistani side had lost more lives than Kashmiris, even as they had pumped in money, men and material as also feted and felicitated them, Kashmiris in turn joined the election process held by India, elected their leaders and lifted them on their shoulders. They availed all Indian government and army schemes.
    ‘They told us they are unable to offer Namaz in Indian side of Kashmir, but we have seen them freely doing so. They tell us their women are not safe, but their women are freely moving about, getting educated and showing no traces of fear’ “.

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      Nb Vishen — Believe me I was shocked beyond words to see this sudden flipside of Pakistan for Kashmir

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      • Posted by Nb Vishen on January 16, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        National objectives do not change principally. They are made of cold inflexible marble but I join you in your honest trust.

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        • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on January 16, 2013 at 6:15 PM

          Nb Vishen– for all the times I have been to Pakistan . the last before this being last year … .Kashmir was always hot on the agenda … the awam could agree on anything with a friendly Indian other than Kashmir …

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  11. Posted by Asif Ali on January 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I hate India/Pakistan friction over this issue, with all fairness I think let the people of Kashmir decide where and with whom they want to live…The west is way ahead of us and still we are dog-fighting over such an issue.

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  12. Posted by A.J Philips on January 16, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Yes, I liked it. Warm regards

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  13. Posted by Rameez farooq on January 16, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Hi Rashmi,

    I have just gone through your article in RK, though i may agree with you on issues in Pakistan and Kashmir relegated to back burner, but where in you say that Youth of Kashmir have moved on to new horizons, They have moved on to new horizons but not with out the dream of Independence from both India & Pakistan,

    You Must have noted a big army of educated Kashmiri’s writing Articles, blog,s Online protests, that’s what has kept the Kashmir issue alive in recent years,

    We have rejected Guns & militant Tactics to solve Kashmir, So both Ind & pak are eager to settle it down now as per the status Quo.

    But i assure you till the time last Kashmiris is standing Alive we will fight for our right to be Free.

    This movement is based on Sacrifices not on individual Personalities.

    Tomorrow if Pro Freedom Leaders decide to abandon this movement they will be trashed by people and movement will still carry on.

    In the end we don’t need Pakistan to help us Achieve our right, we can very well take it on our own in a NON violent Manner.

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    • Dear Farooq Rameez ,
      I fully understand the sentiments you have expressed here . First of all I want to ask who are the Kashmiri people ?
      The Kashmiri people include the common masses, the separatist camp (popularly called the Hurriyat Conference), the mainstream political parties, and the migrant Kashmiri Pandits. If we take the broader picture of state of Jammu and Kashmir ..it comprises Jammuites, Kashmiris (as mentioned above ) and Ladakhis …
      Within the common masses in Kashmir valley—who actually experienced the destruction, sufferings and pain—there are varying narratives and opinions. A larger section would advocate azadi (freedom) and some, Nehru’s proposed ‘plebiscite’. Even among the azadi fans, the understanding varies. For some, it entails the end of the entire Indian presence while for others, it implies Kashmir minus India’s army. ‘Most of the young people in Kashmir want azadi, but no two persons have the uniform opinion when asked what azadi is’ . The whole concept of azadi or independence is confused as no clear cut outlines are made on several issues. also it belays the reality on the ground. Is it azadi for Indian Kashmir, for Pakistan occupied Kashmir , China occupied Kashmir or all three ?
      Answering you point by point —

      [[You Must have noted a big army of educated Kashmiri’s writing Articles, blog,s Online protests, that’s what has kept the Kashmir issue alive in recent years,]]

      ANS :How long will mere stray blogs, articles or writing help the cause that you are aiming at without any home work on the issue .

      [[We have rejected Guns & militant Tactics to solve Kashmir, So both Ind & pak are eager to settle it down now as per the status Quo.]]

      ANS :”We” as you mention above had no choice, dear. The guns had stopped arriving from across the border. So, it is not that you rejected, but that guns and tactics — stopped arriving at your doorstep . Pakistan is struggling with its own problems and it has no care for kashmir and India was ever ready to bring Kashmir back as a prodigal son .

      [[But i assure you till the time last Kashmiri is standing Alive we will fight for our right to be Free.]]

      ANS :Without local support, without any agenda, without any motive, without making any sound ground and mapwork …what good is your fight ,sitting in your homes and dreaming of fights

      [[This movement is based on Sacrifices not on individual Personalities.]]

      ANS :Dear, sacrifices have little significance if they are not meant for greater good of humanity. Please tell us what humanity did u serve by making these sacrifices as you call them . This was just a brain wash by Pakistan to lure gullible kashmiris to suit their end …which brought death and destruction to the kashmiri people.

      [[Tomorrow if Pro Freedom Leaders decide to abandon this movement they will be trashed by people and movement will still carry on.]]

      ANS :Aha! Well, here comes ur actual reason … the whole thing is about a big EGO. Even if 1000’s give up their lives, it is the fear of being trashed that stops them from abandoning a senseless cause.
      What good will denials do ? If one has real guts …go ahead and accept reality and work for forward movement and growth of our people– the Kashmiris . Those who started this movement are themselves hiding themselves and looking for fresh ideas to remain in their public domain , so plz, leave your concern about them. They do not care or value your concern . They are only concerned with their leadership and filling their pockets. All those who came on the forefront of kashmiri separatism are flushed with money and power …and the rest are twiddling their thumbs .

      [[In the end we don’t need Pakistan to help us Achieve our right, we can very well take it on our own in a NON violent Manner.]]

      ANS :Well that you say now. What about the time when Kashmiris ran across the border to get funds and guns, training and a brain wash …then Pakistan was the messiha … now kashmiris dont need Pakistan .!.. let us face it Pakistan doesnt need Kashmiris only their land and now that too is of no need to them . They have brushed kashmiris aside and not the other way around as you make it out . We sure will see how you shall achieve your right (independance ) or right as part of India to contribute towards welfare of humanity and the Kashmiri people .

      Best

      Rashmi

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  14. Rajeshwari ..To say the least it was a real Shocker. Thanks v much for ur comments and for visiting this blog

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  15. Very Articulate and hard hitting

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