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OIC’s Kashmir tantrum

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By K.N. Pandita

In a jibe, Dr. Farooq Abdullah has made light of the Kashmir tantrum of OIC. Representatives of 57 Islamic countries to the 38th session of its Council of Foreign Ministers began their work on 28 June at Astana, Kazakhstan. On its side lines Dr Ekmeleddin, the Secretary General, was chairing the meeting of OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir. His Special Representative on J&K, Ambassador Abdullah Abdul Rehman Al-Alim was present. In his address to the Contact Group, leader of the “True Representatives” of the Muslims of Kashmir Valley, Agha Sayyid Hassan Al-Mousvi – a pro-Khumeini Shi’a leader -, updated the meeting on “Indian brutalities and human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir.”  OIC hangs the board of NO ENTRY for the World’s second largest group of Muslims in India.  Continue Reading…

Bid to break impasse

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By K.N. Pandita

In a surprising development, the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan decided to jointly address a news conference after first announcing separate briefings. The news conference was in addition to a joint statement and, according to Indian officials, a signal that the usually squabbling countries can face the world together. Incrementally, inching towards dismantling six decades of trust deficit, India and Pakistan on Friday agreed to build a constituency for peace at home through cessation of hostile propaganda and strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism, besides narrowing divergences and building convergences on Jammu and Kashmir. Taking into account the complexity and ever-changing dimensions of Indo-Pak relations, nobody should expect a miracle happening overnight to shape these relations in completely new form. The essence of improving relations that have gone through a long period of stress lies in continued interaction and addressing the irritants one by one and step by step. In a broad framework, one can say that three main areas have been identified by the two officials to be addressed in immediate future namely CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir, and countering terrorism.  Continue Reading…

Bid to retrieve tarnished image

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By K.N. Pandita

Ground situation in Kashmir is a mix of normalcy and uncertainty depending on the level of understanding of local and regional response to current happenings.

Killing of Osama bin Laden did not create any backlash in the valley except that the hardliner Hurriyat leader Geelani, along with a handful of his colleagues, offered the prayer in absentia for the departed soul. Radicals like staunch Jamatis preferred to remain silent on the otherwise volatile issue.

Anti-regime mass movements in some of the Middle East countries  initiated by Tunisian revolutionaries and extending to other Islamic countries primarily to Egypt, Yemen and Syria, signaled that the woes of contemporary  Islamic World were essentially political or economic and not religious. This made Kashmiri separatists re-examine the basics of their anti-India movement.   Continue Reading…

Ladakh Region: Second Look

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By K.N. Pandita

Among the regions of Himalayan heights, Ladakh enjoys unique geography, topography and social construct. In ethnic and religious terms as well, the region presents very interesting picture. In particular, harmony among the people of various faiths is a hallmark of the Ladakhi history and society. It is a snow bound area where we have the only overland connectivity via Zojila Pass, which remains closed for nearly six months of the year owing to heavy snowfall and closure of the pass. This signifies the importance of air link between Leh and the rest of the country for the major part of the year. Thus we have the Kushak Bakula Rampoche Leh Airport the highest airport in the country at an elevation of 10682 ft. Runway length of this airport is 10100 ft and the nearest airport is Kargil [220 km], which is an army base.  Continue Reading…

Abbas Ansari has a point

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By K.N. Pandita

The chief of Ittehadu’l-Muslimeen, Maulana Abbas Ansari has a cogent point as his condition for rejoining Hurriyat (M) from which he was expelled some months back on the charge of having agreed to meet with the Interlocutors at his residence. He had, at that time, made it clear to the Hurriyat (M) chief that the team of Interlocutors landed at his residence uninvited, and once they were there, he would not want to be discourteous to shut his door on them. This did not convince the Hurriyat (M) chief and the stalemate in relationship persisted. A panel of two members of Hurriyat (M) Executive Council conducted enquiry into the impasse and recommended that Maulana Abbas should be re-admitted to the Hurriyat (M). But now the Mualana has come out clearly and frankly with his two conditions if he is to return to the fold. He has made no bones in stating that both the acts of pelting stones and raising slogans and calling for strikes after Friday prayers are un-Islamic. He states that according to Islamic teachings, people should go back to their normal business after offering Friday prayers. He has sought an assurance from the Executive Council of the Hurriyat (M) that these two acts will be disallowed and banned if he is to rejoin the fold.  Continue Reading…

Panacea of Panchayati Raj

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By K.N. Pandita

No dispassionate observer can deny the credit to the state government for successfully reviving and conducting Panchayat elections after a gap of over four decades. Barring a few incidents of violence mostly emanating from personal vendetta, the elections throughout the state have been peaceful so far. The Omar Abdullah government can take the credit of making a successful attempt of restoring the confidence of the people in his government. This is the reason why he is emboldened to address larger and larger public gatherings at different places in the state especially in the remote parts of the valley. The Chief Minister is very right in saying that establishment of Panchayati Raj should foster big social and economic change in the state which has been reeling under disturbed conditions for last two decades. Continue Reading…

Valley’s changing landscape

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By K.N. Pandita

Fast disappearing is the memory of the days when the valley presented an image of lush green countryside. Insatiable greed for money and dipping profits in agriculture will soon present a new landscape in which the fields of the Valley will get buried under skyscrapers, factories and automobile workshops. Modern age is setting by stealth into the valley. According to the records in the registration offices, acres of agricultural land are being sold by farmers across the Valley everyday. These are being used for non-agriculture purposes. The outskirts of Srinagar and other towns in the Valley, which used to present a visual feast for the eyes, are today being deprived of their historic countryside ambiance. New townships are fast expanding and gobbling up all agriculture lands around. One reason is that agriculture continues to be a largely non-profit-making activity in Kashmir and that is why farmers sell their ancestral lands to those who come up with handsome offers. People are heard saying that a liter of water costs more than a liter of milk here. Continue Reading…