Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Road to Peace 

Road to a peaceful Afghanistan, Pakistan and India goes through Kashmir. We can deny only at our own risk, comments Naseer A Ganai.

The media in India has started a tirade. Everyday, through newspaper editorials, columns the argument that Kashmir dispute has nothing to do with peace in the South Asia and Afghanistan is being parroted. The appointment of Richard Holbrooke as US envoy to South Asia has unnerved media more than the government of India. Holbrooke was a prime mover behind the Dayton Accords that ended the bloodshed in former Yugoslavia. The media describes Obama administration's move-- linking peace in Afghanistan with Kashmir-- as “illogical conclusions.” 

Some even go to an extent of saying that Kashmir is dispute between India and Pakistan and both countries have evolved some mechanism to resolve it. New Delhi always takes refuge in bilateral dialogue when some senior officials in Briton or in US talk about third party intervention in Kashmir. In normal times, New Delhi doesn't consider Kashmir even as bilateral issue.

But New Delhi has every right to respond to any situation in the manner it deems fit and necessary for its national interest. But what shocks one is the response of 'fourth estate' in India. It unfortunately sides with the establishment and toes the line of the State whatever the issue. And in case of Kashmir it always tries to be ten steps ahead of the State.

The State described the recent election as success in Jammu and Kashmir. But at the same time the response of the State was cautious one, and it was not euphoric. But the reaction of media was more than that. It meant that Kashmir issue has been resolved because people of Kashmir have voted. Every TV anchor parroted the same line until the US envoy to UN Susan Rice, and the British Foreign secretary David Miliband, shocked them. Susan, by describing Kashmir as “hot spot” and Miliband linked resolution of Kashmir dispute with the peace in Afghanistan. 

For last one year there has been steep rise of Taliban in Afghanistan and growth of Muslim radicalism and extremism in North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan. It has caught the attention of the America and western countries. And in order to save the region from descending into the chaos, people like Ahmad Rashid through his book Decent into Chaos, and others have rightly analyzed that the resolution of Kashmir issue is must for the peace of the region. It would rightly deny extremists forces in Pakistan an excuse to wage hundred year war with India and at the same time would strengthen establishment in Pakistan to tackle Afghan problem along with the Americans. This thinking is gaining ground with some senior officials of the Obama administration talking on the same lines. The president Obama had expressed these views about Kashmir during his presidential campaign in an interview with the Time magazine.

And perhaps borrowing from the president Obama, the British Foreign Secretary in his article in the Guardian was more than forthright when he wrote, “But on my visit to south Asia this week, I am arguing that the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation. Although I understand the current difficulties, resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders.”

The statements from the senior British and US officials are nothing but an admission of the fact that Kashmir is disputed territory and it needs resolution. But instead of strengthening the argument and calling for the resolution of Kashmir dispute, the media in India has willingly allowed itself to be extension of the State and continues to be in the State of denial. It is hard to predict whether it would ever come out from this denial mood, but sooner it does better it would be for peace to prevail in the whole region. 

Kashmir is different now. Here everyone has document for the resolution of Kashmir dispute. Agreed we had elections and there was huge participation of people in it. But who emerged winner in this election. The National Conference - that believes restoration of 1953 position to Kashmir is the solution. In 1953 Kashmir had prime minister and only foreign affairs, currency and defence was with India. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the second largest party. The party has come up with the self-rule document for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The party was ostensibly so serious about the self-rule document that it made it as part of the election manifesto. In fact the larger part of election manifestoes of the party talks about self rule. 

Then there are separatists or pro-freedom parties. The separatists in Kashmir have no problem with the US or the Western intervention. In fact during uprising and subsequent economic blockade of Kashmir valley in June, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was more than explicit about the resolution in terms of territory as well. And his argument that the two half districts of Jammu division that are being hyphenated with larger Kashmir issue to give it different dimension of Kashmir dispute, can part away. In a way he borrowed a leaf from Sajjad Gani Lone’s “Achievable Nationhood” that calls for Muslim Kashmir.  Even when president Obama talked about appointing envoy to Kashmir, there was no leader who didn't welcome it. Mirwaiz was again forceful when he responded to David Miliband’s comment. He said, "there has been much talking about intervention, now they (West) should act now." This is chief pontiff or religious head of Kashmir talking. Nowhere in the Muslim world there is such a faith and trust on the West as it is in Kashmir. 

Even the chief minister Omer Abdullah welcomed the statement of the Miliband much to the chagrin of the BJP. From Panaji, BJP's national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy termed newly appointed Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's statement, that third party intervention in Kashmir was needed to solve the issue, as "disturbing". "The remark made by Omar Abdullah as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, asking for a third party intervention to settle the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is very disturbing," Rudy said. He said that British foreign secretary David Miliband being asked to mediate was unacceptable and the BJP condemned it. BJP asked the Omer Abdullah that he should not comment on the foreign affairs. But the party has forgotten that the chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir State have always acted as extension of the India's foreign ministry until Mufti put this practice to an end by not issuing warnings to Pakistan from Kashmir soil as was the practice of his predecessors. If now the chief minister in Kashmir has realized that there is need to resolve Kashmir, why should it be construed as interference into foreign affairs?

These are best times to settle the Kashmir dispute. And it should be settled for the good of region. India is a confident country and emerging power, and Kashmir is dispute, and the denials from the media fraternity of India would not make it otherwise. There are options to resolve the dispute -- from autonomy to Self-rule to independent, secular democratic Kashmir, all options must be discussed. And atmosphere should be created for the resolution of the dispute.

The denial by the Indian media would not give anything to the region. The region needs peace and stability. Kashmir need more than that. More than healing a touch. Kashmiri soul has been bruised. After nearly one lakh killings, 10,000 disappearances, and innumerable arrests, there is a constant state of siege. But all this has not broken the will of people of Kashmir. The ten elections couldn't change Kashmir and 11th election too, held in November-December in seven phases, didn't change anything in Kashmir.

In June celebrated columnist of the Times of India Sawaminathian Ayer called for independence of Kashmir. He wrote “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”

In these sad times, the intellectuals, journalists and educated and enlightened class of India should rise to the occasion and not dispute the fact that the road to peaceful Afghanistan, Pakistan and India goes through Kashmir. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ever heard of kamand? Ask granny

SKUAST Study Paints Grim Picture Of Vanishing Indigenous Plant Varieties In Valley
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, Jan 24: Sixty years back 300 varieties of Rice were native to Kashmir, but what we have today is a few high-yielding foreign varieties. How many of us have heard the name of aromatic rice variety kamad, not to speak of eating it? Your grandmas or grandpas would boast of having tasted it in the heydays of their lives. Such has been the fate of Kashmir Valley’s rich biodiversity, reveals a study by a team of scientists of Sheri Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences of Technology.
The SKUAST team has painted a grim picture of rapidly vanishing indigenous varieties and species of plants, saying if they are not preserved it would be hard to find them in the coming times.
The study conducted to collect information about plants of agricultural and horticultural significance has found a sharp decline in the production of indigenous varieties of rice, vegetables, trees, pulses, medicinal and ornamental plants. 
“Some 60 years ago there were 300 varieties of rice in Kashmir. We have replaced them for high yield, and at the same time we have failed to preserve agricultural land. It has serious consequences,” says Prof. N.A Zeerak, Head Division of Plan Breeding SKUAST-K.
The indigenous varieties like Bat Baber, Hapat, Noor Meer, Gulla Bara are not being grown presently. Aromatic varieties of rice, like kamad, are extinct now. The experts said that in Western countries the indigenous varieties were being preserved in the Gene Banks.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir had a fairly rich diversity of plant life, and people used to depend on this for their daily needs of food, medicine, fuel, fibre. Plants were also an integral part of the social fabric of the valley. Prof Zeerak says that “seems to be history now.”
He said the graveyards in Kashmir that used to have dense growth of Iris (Mazarmund in Kashmiri) look barren now. The roots of the plant are considered to be rodent and mongoose repellent. 
The research has revealed that there has been decline in production of the Ambri apple as well. The Ambri has been replaced by the delicious and other varieties. The Kashmiri poplar has been replaced by Russian poplars, which grows rapidly, and the medicinal plants like Microtome (Kahzban), Colchicium (verikium), Saroria (khut) are also on the decline.
Though the research has not shown the extent of damage and there is no statistical data available about the agricultural land, it reveals that there has been decline in the saffron production due to decrease in land holding. 
It says cutting of almond and willow trees is rampant. “In fact most of the bakers now use almond trees,” the research says, adding that there are no efforts to plant tress where the plant is felled, and also no efforts are made to preserve the old varieties.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New govt opens PSA account for 2009

‘More than 50,000 arrested under the Act in 20 years’


Srinagar, Jan 22: The NC-led coalition is yet to complete a fortnight in office. The chief minister Omar Abdullah had promised that political prisoners with “no heinous charges” against them would be released. But the district administration has issued orders sanctioning detention of four prominent pro-freedom leaders who have already spent years in jails.  
 A source in the office of Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, said the DC on Wednesday signed the PSA order against secretary of Coordination Committee and Hurriyat leader Masrat Alam Bhat, and JKLF leaders Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Muhammad Rafique Pahlo alias Nanaji, and Bilal Sidiqui.   
 Under the PSA a person can be jailed for two years without a trial. 
 Farooq Ahmad Dar was released in 2006 after 17 years of detention.  Sidique was released a year ago after spending 13 years in different Indian jails.  Masarat Alam has been in and out of jails for most part of his active political life.
 The police dossier of one of the four detainees, according to the source, reads: “In order to overcome the menace of terrorism and secessionism a holistic approach is needed wherein besides legal action preventive detention will be a very effective tool against the persons having potential, will, commitment, and urge to challenge the integrity and sovereignty of the State.”
The High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom told Greater Kashmir that Bar would challenge the detention in the Court. 
 On 19 September 2008 Masrat Alam Bhat, Muhammad Saleem Nanaji, Farooq Ahmad Dar were arrested during agitation against the transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board and booked under the PSA. On 8 January 2008 the High Court quashed their detention. Bilal Sidiqui was arrested after elections. 
 On January 17 Sidqui was allowed by the Court to meet his mother who was admitted in the SMHS hospital. On January 18 he was granted interim bail by the duty magistrate Srinagar. But police didn’t release him and on Thursday he, along with the trio, was shifted to Udhampur jail.   
 Mian Abdul Qayoom says over 50,000 Kashmiris have been booked and detained for different periods under the Act in the past 20 years of freedom struggle. The State government has not furnished any data on the detentions under the PSA. But the Home Department sources put the number to 18000 in 17 years. 
 In the PDP-Congress coalition nearly 2700 persons were detained under PSA from 2002 to 2006. Sources said from 1 January 2008 to 23 April 2008, PSA was slapped on 117 persons. In 2006, 607 cases of habeas corpus have been instituted in the High Court at Srinagar.
 Sources said in 2008, 367 cases of the PSA were challenged in the high court and the Court disposed off 307 cases. For past four months 180 petitions challenging the PSA have been instituted in the High Court.

 The law dates back to 70s and its first victim was the president of Kashmir Motor Drivers Association (KMDA), Ghulam Nabi. In 1977 elections Ghulam Nabi contested on Janta Party ticket against Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.  Soon after the elections the government introduced the Public Safety Ordinance, and on 8 April 1978 it became an act after it was passed by the state legislature. Ghulam Nabi was its first victim. But in 1978 Justice M.R.A Ansari was the Chief Justice of the High Court. He heard the case and within a month revoked the order. 
 In 1985 former Chief Minister Ghulam Muhammad Shah made the Act stringent by inserting section 10 (A). 
 Mian Qayoom says earlier the PSA could be challenged in the court if out of ten charges, nine were proved against the accused but one of the charges was vague. 
 “But after insertion of section 10-(A) situation totally changed. Now if one ground proved correct and nine incorrect the detention could not be challenged on its vagueness,” he added. 
 The amendment made courts virtually defunct forcing the Bar to challenge it. The High Court later ruled that any order of detention could be challenged in the Court of law. 
 In 1990, when governor rule was imposed in the state, PSA got another amendment. The then governor Jagmohan inserted section in the act. Now the prisoners could be detained in any jail in India. 
 Bar challenged it in the High Court and High Court revoked the section and questioned its legality. The state went to Supreme Court and the Supreme Court stayed the High Court judgment. Since then the matter is pending for the order.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Govt rushed through Chenab Corpn

Guv Nominated Chairman; Plea For More Royalty Shot Down
Srinagar, Jan 21: During Governor’s rule, consent has been given for the formation of the Chenab Valley Power Development Corporation to exploit the waters of Chenab basin and the Governor made the ex-officio chairman of the company. Sources said on October 10, 2008 a joint venture between the NHPC and the JK Power Development Corporation was signed and on 28 November, when the code of conduct was in vogue, the government order was issued and the Governor was made as an ex-officio chairman of the joint venture company.
Sources said there was no exigency to get the draft MoU approved and to nominate the Governor as the chairman. “Power in Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive issue and there was no need to rush through the approval of MoU when the elected government was only a month away,” said an official.
The commissioner secretary Power, Sandip Naik, refused to comment on the issue. He said it was an issue of power generation and only MD JKPDC could comment.
The MD JKPDC, Shant Manu, said that MoU was finalized when Baglihar project was commissioned. During the Governor’s rule the draft MoU of the CVPDC was finalized and approved at a state advisory committee meeting. Apart from the governor, the company would have four directors- chief secretary, finance secretary, planning secretary and power secretary.
The MD JKPDC said that in Governor’s rule the chairman of the joint venture company was the Governor and now when the elected government has come to power, the chief minister would be its chairman. However, he said, formal orders have not been issued in this regard.
In May 2008, the state Government had taken “a decision in New Delhi in consultation with the union power ministry, to float the CVPDC” to exploit the water resources of Chenab basin.
In the first instance three power projects would be developed. The decision to float the corporation was taken in a meeting attended by Union Minister of State for Power, Jairam Ramesh, J&K Power minister, Babu Singh, who was accompanied by the commissioner secretary Power Sandeep Naik and resident commissioner, S V Bhave.
The meeting had reportedly agreed that the Jammu and Kashmir state and NHPC would have the equity share in respect of three major power projects coming up on Chenab and a draft MoU will be forwarded to the state for its cabinet approval in next couple of weeks. But then the situation changed in Kashmir and Governor’s rule was imposed.
Sources said according to the draft MoU, the three projects to be taken up are Pakal Dul, Kiru and Kwar.
The Pakal Dul project is of 1000 MW capacity located on river Marusudar in Doda district. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 5511.83 crore and its construction period is six years.
The Kiru project of 600 MW is planned at 25 kms upstream of Dulhasti project as run of the river scheme on river Chenab and is located in Kishtwar. The projected is estimated to cost Rs 2381.92 crores and its construction period is five years.
The Kwar project is planned across river Chenab as a run of river scheme near Padyarna village in Kishtwar district. The installed capacity of the project is proposed as 520 MW and its estimated cost is Rs 3386.11 crores and its construction period is five years.
In the joint venture company the NHPC would have the share of “not less than 51 percent and Jammu Kashmir State Power Development Corporation shall have the share of not more than 49 percent of the total share holding in the company.”
However the experts said that by incorporating “not more than 49 per cent” for JKSPDC, the Government of Jammu Kashmir has been given an excuse not to give its share. “It could be anything between zero to 49 percent,” the experts said adding that the MoU should include “not less than 49 percent” for JKSPDC as well so that the state government should not be given an excuse to ask NHPC to fill its shares as well in times of financial crises. “Not less than 49 percent provision would bind the government to fulfill its share”, they said.
The JKSPDC and NHPC would have the right to purchase share holding of the other partner in the joint venture.
The benefits of the joint venture shall be shared by the respective parties in proportion of their actual contribution in share holding of the corporation and the company would be reportedly under an obligation to provide 12 percent of power generated from the projects free of cost to Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the experts said that why the State Government should always stop at 12 percent royalty. They said once the debt repayment was over the royalty should exceed to 30 percent and at later stage to 50 percent. “Here royalty is sealed at 12 percent and it is against the established norms,” they said. Sources said there were major players other than NHPC who had asked the State Government that it would give up to 20 percent royalty but their proposal were shot down.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Education in mind, Bandipora villages study for change

Naseer A Ganai 

Aloosa (Bandipora), Jan 18: Bangladesh and Zurmaz are among scores villages in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district which have no proper roads and safe drinking water. Though many people of the twin villages are fishermen and unskilled laborers, education of children is their foremost priority.

“Yes we are poor but we are concerned about the education of our children,” says Ghulam Mohideen Dar, a villager of Zurmaz.

Though illiterate, Dar remembers poetry of many Kashmiri poets by heart. He says the area has been hit by the conflict and there are about 30 orphans in both the villages, but complains, the government has not done anything to help them. The government indifference is a general complaint.

The villagers of Bangladesh, Zurmaz and Malangam had assembled today at Aloosa, some three kms away, to discuss the problems confronted by them vis-à-vis education sector. The meeting was attended by students, elders and the affected children.

The students had invited K-FORD, a research and rehabilitation organization in the deliberations. The K-FORD was founded by some students of Bandipora and works in remote rural areas of Kashmir among orphans, destitute, and neglected communities.  It has adopted all 30 orphans of the village.

The issues were related to education. The villagers of Zurmaz said that the Government Middle School Zurmaz has not so far distributed books among the children. The books provided by the Board of School Education are distributed free among the government schools.

Sources in the BOSE said that they have already given books prescribed in the syllabus to concerned zonal education officers and if they have not distributed it among the children, the Education Department should take them to the task.

Mohideen said that the villagers conveyed it to the school authorities many times but to no avail. “I wonder when they would give books to children,” he asks. But the villagers are adamant that they would work hard along with the K-FORD to bring qualitative change in the villages.

There is change on the ground too. The young educated people of various villages return to their roots to help the needy ones. “I study in 1st year. But think it is my responsibility to educate those who are in need and visit the schools to see the standard of education,” said Syed Sadaqat while deliberating in the village meet. Syed hails from Malangam and says the condition of people there are miserable. “Yes, there is realization among fishermen that education would bring change but then they have day to day problems of survival,” he said. He argues that NGOs have role to play. “They have to educate people about the government schemes including social welfare schemes and in cases of orphans, they have rendered monetary help,” he said. Iqbal Lone heads the K-FORD and he hails from Astongu Bandipora. He says his organization has taken the responsibility of orphans of three villages. “In fact we distribute education material among them today,” he said, and hopes that efforts of locals and students would bring change. Having reading books and school bag, provided by the K-FORD, in his lap Suhail Ahmad Dar was more than happy. Dar who is orphan but wants to study says he was waiting for government books (BOSE books) but they have not delivered. “Now, I these two months I have books to study,” he said.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama’s UN envoy mentions Kashmir

Washington, Jan 16: United States ambassador-designate to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has identified Kashmir as one of the hot spots and bracketed it with conflict-torn regions, including the Balkans and Golan heights. The reference to Kashmir came during Rice’s testimony before the Senate foreign relations committee, which held a nomination hearing for her on Thursday. “From the Balkans to East Timor, from Liberia to Kashmir, from Cyprus to the Golan Heights, the United Nations has, for more than six decades, played a critical role in forestalling renewed fighting, helping to resolve conflict and repair war-torn countries, providing humanitarian aid, organising elections, and responding to threats to international peace and security,” Rice said in her testimony. Rice, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration, was foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama during his election campaign. After Obama won the November 4 presidential polls, he nominated Rice for US ambassador to the UN, with cabinet rank. In the past too, Rice has identified Kashmir as one of the conflict zones of the world.

Susan Rice's Testimony at U.N

January 15, 2009 Susan Rice's Testimony at Her U.N. Ambassador Hearing
By Susan Rice
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Lugar, and distinguished Members of the Committee, I am deeply honored to appear before you as the President-elect's designee to be the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations. I want to thank the President-elect for his confidence in naming me to this vitally important position.
Mr. Chairman, my warmest congratulations to you as the new Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. You have been an ardent champion and advocate for a principled U.S. foreign policy to ensure this country's security and prosperity. There is a great tradition of probity on this Committee, dating back to Senator Fulbright. The man seated next to you, Senator Lugar, continued that great tradition through his years as Chairman, and I know you will, as well. I am very grateful to you, Mr. Chairman, and to Senator Lugar, for convening this hearing swiftly to consider my nomination.
I would like to take a moment to introduce and thank my family. I am so pleased and proud to be joined today by my mother, Lois Rice, my father, Emmett Rice, my wonderful husband Ian Cameron, and our greatest blessing, our children, Jake and Maris. Without their unfailing wisdom, love and support, I would not be here today, nor could I imagine taking on this great responsibility.
In addition, I want to express my gratitude to Senator Susan Collins and Senator Evan Bayh for their generous introductions of me and for their extraordinary service to our nation. I am very appreciative of their support.
Mr. Chairman, like many Americans, I first heard of the United Nations as a child of about Maris' age. My initial images of the UN were not the blue helmets of its peacekeepers or the white vehicles of its life-saving humanitarian workers but the orange and black of the UNICEF boxes I carried door to door each Halloween. I grew up trick-or-treating for UNICEF - a tradition my children continue today. The concept is simple and powerful - children the world over helping other children. UNICEF and the UN embodied to me then, as it does still today, our shared responsibility to one another as human beings and our collective potential and obligation, to forge a more secure, more just and more prosperous future.
As I grew up during the Cold War, I then saw the UN frequently paralyzed by geopolitical and ideological showdowns between the United States and the Soviet Union. Later, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, I joined millions in hoping that the vital mission of the UN could be advanced through enhanced cooperation. Serving in the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, I had the opportunity -- first as the official on the NSC staff responsible for UN affairs and later as Special Assistant to the President and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs - to gain a first-hand appreciation of the organization's strengths and understanding of its weaknesses.
In the wake of the Cold War, the UN was modernized in important ways and did substantial good -- from Namibia to Mozambique, from El Salvador to South Africa and Cambodia. At the same time, there were clear failures, witnessed in the unimaginable human tragedies of Somalia, Rwanda and Srebrenica, and the inability to effectively deal with crises in Haiti and Angola. We saw the difficulties and limits of UN action when conflicting parties are determined to continue fighting, as well as the imperative of mobilizing broad-based support behind UN efforts. We were disappointed when the UN occasionally served as a forum for prejudice instead of a force for our shared values. Finally, we learned that mismanagement and corruption can taint the dedicated work of skilled professionals, and that the reprehensible actions of a few can undermine the goodwill of many towards an institution, which most Americans nonetheless continue to support.
Mr. Chairman, I believe we stand now at yet another defining moment - one in which the peoples and nations of the world must find both the will and more effective means to cooperate, if we are to counter the urgent global threats that face us all. Terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, civil conflict, climate change, genocide, extreme poverty, and deadly infectious disease are shared challenges that no single nation can defend against alone. They require common action based on a common purpose and vision of shared security. I welcome the challenge and am humbled by the opportunity to serve our country at the United Nations. If I am confirmed, I will work to promote and implement President-elect Obama's commitment to "strengthening our common security by investing in our common humanity."
Advancing America's Interests in the United Nations
More than 60 years ago, in the aftermath of the destruction and devastation of World War II, the United States provided the leadership and vision that led to the founding of the United Nations. Our leaders understood then that a global institution that brings all of the world's countries together would enhance - not diminish - our influence and bring more security to our country and the world.
Today, with our security at home affected by instability, violence, disease, or failed states in far corners of the world, the President-elect has affirmed America's commitment to the United Nations as an indispensable, if imperfect, institution for advancing our security and well-being in the 21st century. He has made it clear that we must pursue a national security strategy that builds strong international partnerships to tackle global challenges through the integration of all aspects of American power - military and diplomatic; economic and legal; cultural and moral. The goal of our diplomacy at the United Nations must be to make it a more perfect forum to address the most pressing global challenges: to promote peace, to support democracy, and to strengthen respect for human rights.
There is no country more capable than the United States to exercise leadership in this global institution, and to help frame its programs and shape its actions. My most immediate objective, should I be confirmed, will be to refresh and renew America's leadership in the United Nations and bring to bear the full weight of our influence, voice, resources, values, and diplomacy at the United Nations.
The Obama Administration will work to maximize common interests and build international support to share the burdens of collective action to counter the most pressing threats Americans face, while working to help tackle the poverty, oppression, hunger, disease, fear and war that threaten billions around the world every day.
We will make our case to the UN, and press for it to become a more effective vehicle of collective action. We will also be prepared to listen and to learn, to seek to understand and respect different perspectives. The task of our diplomacy must be to expand both the will and ability of the international community to respond effectively to the great challenges of our time.
I know that the UN often frustrates Americans, and I am acutely aware of its shortcomings. But that is precisely why the United States must carry out sustained, concerted, and strategic multilateral diplomacy. Many countries invest heavily in deliberations on what they view as the "world's stage." That in part explains why diplomacy at the UN can be slow, frustrating, complex, and imperfect. But that is also why effective American diplomacy at the United Nations remains so crucial.
Indeed, in some places the UN is the only capable institution trying to make a difference. Around the world, the United Nations is performing vital, and in many areas life-saving, services. Last year, the World Food Program fed 86 million people in 80 countries who would otherwise go hungry or even face starvation, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Indonesia, and Congo. Thanks to the efforts of UNICEF and the World Health Organization, smallpox and polio have been nearly wiped out. UNICEF alone vaccinates about 40% of the world's children each year.
The choices we face in addressing global challenges can often be difficult: allowing conflict and suffering to spread, mobilizing an American response, or supporting a multi-national United Nations effort. The UN is not a cure-all; we must be clear-eyed about the problems, challenges and frustrations of the institution. But it is a global institution that can address a tremendous range of critical American and global interests.
The support of others can never be viewed as a prerequisite for U.S. action, but our actions are strengthened with the support of friends, allies and other stakeholders. Achieving the backing of an institution that represents every country in the world can give added legitimacy and leverage to our actions and facilitate our efforts to garner broad support for our policy objectives.
From the Balkans to East Timor, from Liberia to Kashmir, from Cyprus to the Golan Heights, the United Nations has, for more than six decades, played a critical role in forestalling renewed fighting, helping to resolve conflict and repair war-torn countries, providing humanitarian aid, organizing elections, and responding to threats to international peace and security. Countless lives have been saved. And when it works, the UN has helped promote the very democratic values that lie at the center of what the United States represents.
Indeed, the flaws and disappointing actions within the UN are rooted in its potential to serve as an engine for progress. All nations understand the importance of this institution. That is why countries like Sudan, North Korea and Cuba work so hard to render bodies like the UN Human Rights Council ineffective and objectionable. It is why efforts to pass Security Council resolutions on abuses in places from Zimbabwe to Burma occasion such fierce debate, and don't always succeed. It is also why many try to use the UN to willfully and unfairly condemn our ally Israel. When effective and principled UN action is blocked, our frustration naturally grows, but that should only cause us to redouble our efforts to ensure that the United Nations lives up to its founding principles.
As in the past, there will be occasions in the future when deadlocks cannot be broken, and the United States and its partners and allies will nonetheless have to act. Yet, what our leaders accomplished over 60 years ago was to help establish an inclusive global institution that, by its very existence, provides the potential to enhance collective security, while affording a powerful platform for American leadership -- leadership that can increase our own and others' security and prosperity.
Nature of the Challenges and UN Role
Today, there is more on the agenda of the United Nations than ever before, and with that full agenda comes increased expectations and increased need to shed inefficiency and implement management best practices. Nearly 90,000 UN peacekeepers - more than ever before -- are deployed in 16 missions around the world. The UN is also playing vital roles in Iraq and Afghanistan -- working to strengthen governance, foster democracy and development, and meet pressing humanitarian needs. The United Nations is also at the center of global efforts to address climate change, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, stabilize weak and failing states, prevent and resolve conflict, reduce poverty, combat HIV/AIDS and halt the spread of other infectious disease, assist and resettle refugees and the internally displaced, feed the hungry and promote food security, and confront genocide and crimes against humanity.
If confirmed, I will work to strengthen the UN's effectiveness to fulfill its many important missions, and working closely with the Secretary of State, I will devote particular attention to four areas:
First, we must make renewed efforts to improve the capacity of the United Nations to undertake complex peace operations effectively. We need to weigh new UN mandates more carefully and review existing mandates as they are renewed. Indeed, the gap between number and complexity of the missions the Security Council has committed the UN to perform, and its ability to do so, has arguably never been greater. The fact that more than one year after the force was established, the crucial UN mission in Darfur is only at half its authorized strength is unacceptable. We should work to build global peacekeeping capacity and help streamline the UN as well as our own procedures for deploying and supporting UN missions. We must also no longer allow host nations to dictate the composition of - and thwart the effective deployment of - Chapter VII UN operations.
Second, the Obama Administration will provide strong leadership to address climate change and welcomes the UN Secretary-General's strong interest in this issue. Under President-elect Obama, the United States will engage vigorously in UN-sponsored climate negotiations while we pursue progress in sub-global, regional and bilateral settings. To tackle global warming, all major emitting nations must be part of the solution, and rapidly developing economies, such as China and India, must join in making and meeting their own binding and meaningful commitments. We must help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and seize opportunities to accelerate their development by investing in supplying renewable energy and participating in emissions trading mechanisms. If confirmed, I look forward to advancing the diplomatic and development elements of the President's climate change agenda.
Third, preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons is an enormous security challenge that deserves top level attention. Thanks to the bold leadership and vision of Senator Lugar and others, enormous progress has been made, but the threats are daunting and must be addressed. There is no more urgent threat to the United States than a terrorist with a nuclear weapon. Nuclear weapons materials are stored in dozens of countries, some without proper security. Nuclear technology is spreading. Iran continues its illicit nuclear program unabated, and North Korea's nuclear weapon's program is destabilizing to the region and an urgent proliferation concern. President-elect Obama will work on multiple levels to address these dangers. It is essential to strengthen the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime, dealing with those states in violation of this regime, and upholding our obligations to work constructively and securely toward the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The United Nations plays a significant role in this regime, particularly through the Review Conferences held every five years under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The next Review Conference in 2010 is an opportunity to strengthen all nations' adherence to the global non-proliferation regime for the 21st century. Our objective for the 2009 Preparatory Committee is to lay the groundwork for a successful Review Conference in 2010 - one that advances the world's nonproliferation and disarmament regime and decreases the chance that nuclear weapons will end up in the hands of terrorists.
Fourth, President-elect Obama has called for us to "invest in our common humanity." Billions of the world's people face the threats of poverty, disease, environmental degradation, rampant criminality, extremism, and violence where states and public institutions cannot provide security or essential services to their own citizens. Conflict-ridden and fragile states also can incubate these and other threats that rarely remain confined within national borders. Indeed, some of the world's most dangerous forces are manifest in or enabled by precisely these contexts. President-elect Obama has long stressed the importance of working with others to promote sustainable economic development, combat poverty, enhance food and economic security, curb conflict and help strengthen democracy and governing institutions. The Obama Administration is also committed to supporting broad-based and sustainable economic development, including making the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) America's goals. This is a broad but crucial agenda for the United States that will enhance our own security in an interconnected world. It is one that requires engagement from many different elements of the international community but where the United Nations has a unique and critical role to play.
Regional political and security challenges will inevitably remain a central element of the U.S. agenda at the United Nations. Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon will continue to demand the urgent attention of the UN Security Council. Multilateral pressure will continue to be needed to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program. A strengthened UN role in Afghanistan and Iraq will promote governance, support elections, strengthen political institutions, improve coordination of development, and enhance regional security. The ongoing genocide in Sudan, the persistent violence in Eastern Congo, and the persecution and repression of innocents in Zimbabwe and Burma all require much more effective action by the international community. And, recent events remind us yet again of the importance of working to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve their goal of a peaceful two-state solution that achieves lasting security for Israel and a viable state for the Palestinians. I will work to enable the United Nations to play a constructive role in pursuit of this goal.
The Obama Administration will promote democracy, understanding that the foundations of democracy must be grown beyond elections, and those foundations are best seeded from within. We will stand up for human rights around the world mindful of our deep and abiding interest in ensuring strong global mechanisms to defend these rights. Thus, we will work closely with friends, allies, the UN Secretariat and others to seek to improve the performance and the prospects of the Human Rights Council, which has strayed far from the principles embodied in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and too often undermines the very rights it must defend.
The United States will address all these challenges unencumbered by the old divisions of the 20th century. We cannot afford to be burdened with labels such as "rich" or "poor," "developed" or "developing," "North" or "South," or "the Non Aligned Movement." In the 21st century, these false divisions rarely serve anyone's interests. In facing challenges of the scale that lie before us, all peoples and nations should focus on what we have in common: our shared desire to live freely and securely, in health, with hope and with opportunity. Those are the interests and aspirations of the American people, and they are shared by billions around the world.
Strengthening the United Nations
Mr. Chairman, the United Nations must be strengthened to meet 21st century challenges. None of us can be fully satisfied with the performance of the UN, and too often we have been dismayed. The United States must press for high standards and bring to its dealings with the UN high expectations for its performance and accountability, and that's what I intend to do. In cooperation with other governments, we must pursue substantial and sustained improvements across the full range of management and performance challenges, including financial accountability, efficiency, transparency, ethics and internal oversight, and program effectiveness. Important work on all of these issues has been undertaken, but we have much further to go. Progress and reform are essential to address flaws in the institutions, to meet the unprecedented demands made on it, and to sustain confidence in and support for the UN. I pledge to you to work tirelessly to see that American taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and effectively.
To lead from a position of strength, the United States must consistently act as a responsible, fully-engaged partner in New York. To do so, we must fulfill our financial obligations while insisting on effective accountability. In the past, our failure to pay all of our dues and to pay them on a timely basis has constrained the UN's performance and deprived us of the ability to use our influence most effectively to promote reform. President-elect Obama believes the U.S. should pay our dues to the UN in full and on time. I look forward to working with you and other Members of Congress to ensure that we do so, as well as to pay down our newly mounting arrears and to support legislation to permanently lift the cap on U.S. payments to the UN peacekeeping budget.
Leading USUN
If I am confirmed, I will have the privilege of leading our hardworking and dedicated team at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Successful diplomacy requires top-notch people. If confirmed, I intend to work with the Secretary of State to attract and support our best and brightest diplomats to serve at the Mission. Current tax laws and policies make service at the U.S. Mission a comparative financial sacrifice for Foreign Service officers. This is a situation that together, we should review and address to strengthen America's global leadership. In addition, a secure, modern work environment is critical to maximizing performance. The best businesses in America understand this point. If confirmed, I will work to ensure that the new U.S. Mission building is completed as expeditiously as possible and provides our diplomats with the tools they need to be safe, effective and successful.
Early in my career I was a management consultant. I know that strong leadership and sound management supports effective action. We must enhance our capacity to press for a more efficient and effective UN. Heading a well-run mission will be an important priority for me.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, if I am confirmed, I will work energetically to help renew America's leadership in the world. I will ensure that the United States is represented powerfully and effectively. I will be an unflinching advocate of our interests and values, as I seek to maximize cooperation to address the most serious global challenges we confront. I will listen. I will engage. I will collaborate. I will go to the UN convinced that this institution has great current value, even greater potential, and great room still for improvement. I commit to being direct and honest in New York and always forthright with Congress. I will welcome the advice and support of the Members of this Committee; I look forward to working closely with all of you; and I invite each of you to come to New York to contribute directly to our shared efforts to strengthen and support this important institution.
Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, it will be my highest honor to support our country's interest in renewing our global leadership and effecting critical and lasting change. In the 21st Century, we can and we must transcend old barriers, build new bridges, strengthen our common security and invest in our common humanity.
Thank you.

Hurriyat, Mehbooba welcome Miliband’s statement

Naseer A Ganai
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called Thursday for a rethink of the strategy against terrorism, saying the notion of a “war on terror” was misleading, and said resolution of Kashmir dispute was important for peace.
Miliband’s comments, days before U.S. President George W. Bush hands the keys to the White House to Barack Obama, implicitly criticized aspects of the “war on terror” by Bush after the September 11 attack on World Trade Tower.
“Resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders,” Miliband wrote in an opinion piece for the Guardian newspaper.
India was quick to react to it. It said it does not share London’s views and does not need “unsolicited advice on its internal issues.”
“We do not need unsolicited advice on the internal issues of India like Jammu and Kashmir,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters yesterday.
However, the Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the United Kingdom has role in Kashmir and has moral responsibility facilitate the resolution of Kashmir dispute. Earlier, he said, the US President Barack Obama has also called for resolution of Kashmir dispute and “I think that time has come they should now act.” He said that the international situation was such that Palestine and Kashmir dispute requires intervention. He rejected the Government of India’s response to the British Foreign Secretary’s suggestion and said that India should accept the ground situation. “It would have been far better had India taken the advice in positive sense,” Mirwaiz said adding that Miliband stated nothing wrong but brought the reality to the fore. He said India has overreacted to the proposal and accused India of “taking refuge in the elections politics.” But, he added, the world realizes the real threat and considers that elections couldn’t be alternative to the settlement of Kashmir dispute. Mirwaiz said that International community should break their silence on carnage in Gaza and intervene.
The president Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti said “David has stated something that has been felt by many people.” She said there was reason in his statement and “we need to address Kashmir dispute.” “Kashmir is an issue and issued should be settled,” she said. She said the Government of India was free to respond in whatever manner it thinks but “there is urge for the solution of Kashmir issue.” The chief minister Omer Abdullah and the NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah were not available for the comments.

India frets whenanyone in the West talks about Kashmir. Here is the article by the David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary published in the Guardian

Unfortunately instead of heeding the advice, India as usual has rejected it it saying “Unsolicited Advice Not Needed”.   

'War on terror' was wrong 

The phrase gives a false idea of a unified global enemy and encourages a primarily military reply
David Miliband
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai seven weeks ago sent shock waves around the world. Now all eyes are fixed on the Middle East, where Israel's response to Hamas's rockets, a ferocious military campaign, has already left a thousand Gazans dead.
Seven years on from 9/11 it is clear that we need to take a fundamental look at our efforts to prevent extremism and its terrible offspring, terrorist violence. Since 9/11, the notion of a "war on terror" has defined the terrain. The phrase had some merit: it captured the gravity of the threats, the need for solidarity, and the need to respond urgently - where necessary, with force. But ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken. The issue is not whether we need to attack the use of terror at its roots, with all the tools available. We must. The question is how.
The idea of a "war on terror" gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate. Lashkar-e-Taiba has roots in Pakistan and says its cause is Kashmir. Hezbollah says it stands for resistance to occupation of the Golan Heights. The Shia and Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq have myriad demands. They are as diverse as the 1970s European movements of the IRA, Baader-Meinhof, and Eta. All used terrorism and sometimes they supported each other, but their causes were not unified and their cooperation was opportunistic. So it is today.
The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common. Terrorist groups need to be tackled at root, interdicting flows of weapons and finance, exposing the shallowness of their claims, channelling their followers into democratic politics.
The "war on terror" also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife.
This is what divides supporters and opponents of the military action in Gaza. Similar issues are raised by the debate about the response to the Mumbai attacks. Those who were responsible must be brought to justice and the government of Pakistan must take urgent and effective action to break up terror networks on its soil. But on my visit to south Asia this week, I am arguing that the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation. Although I understand the current difficulties, resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders.
We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guant√°namo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama's commitment to close it.
The call for a "war on terror" was a call to arms, an attempt to build solidarity for a fight against a single shared enemy. But the foundation for solidarity between peoples and nations should be based not on who we are against, but on the idea of who we are and the values we share. Terrorists succeed when they render countries fearful and vindictive; when they sow division and animosity; when they force countries to respond with violence and repression. The best response is to refuse to be cowed. Courtesy The Guardian
(David Miliband is British Foreign Secretary)

2 million stray dogs in Srinagar by 2015

Srinagar, Jan 16: The Bombay High Court judgment asking Mumbai and Goa Municipal Corporation to use discretionary powers to kill dogs ‘that are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’ has enthused Srinagar Municipal Corporation to go for the kill. 
 The Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been restricted from taking action against around hundred thousand dogs, that have bitten around 3772 persons in Srinagar city alone in 2008, by the animal rights activists who cite Cruelty Against Animals Act as reason and call for sterilisation instead. 
 The experts here are worried about the growing number of dog population. Dr Saleem Khan is the member Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India. He says “There will more than 20 lakh dogs in the City in next five years, given the population of dogs at this time is around one lakh.” “It means you have to do something now,” he said.
 A majority judgment of a three-judge constitutional bench- Justice S Radhakrishnan, Justices Dilip Bhosale and Justice Vijaya Kapse Tahilramani- of the Bombay High Court held that the civic chiefs of Mumbai and municipalities in Maharashtra and Goa could use their discretionary powers to kill ‘dogs which are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’. The term ‘nuisance’ was dealt with at length by Justice Bhosale. He said that in the canine context, it would mean “anything which endangers human life or is injurious to public health”. 
 The Court held that the civic chiefs in Maharashtra and Goa could use their discretionary powers to kill ‘dogs which are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’. Significantly, the majority view was that “no hard and fast rules can be laid down for what constitutes nuisance, but a continuously barking dog at night could well be called a permanent source of nuisance”. Significantly, under the BMC Act, even an abandoned pet dog of any pedigree, if not claimed within three days of ‘creating nuisance’ can be put to sleep under the discretionary powers of the civic chief. 
 In 2007 the Anti-Rabies Clinic of the SMHS hospital has reported 3772 dog bites. There are no statistical data available of dog bites and subsequent rabies deaths in Kashmir for last 20 years. 
 Dr Shafqat, the Health Officer SMC said even if you sterilize the dog, it doesn’t stop biting. “I think the Bombay High Court has given the direction and we must follow it if we want to save our children from the dog bites,” he told Greater Kashmir. He said the time has to come for eradication of the dogs. “The judgment is handy and time has come for the final decision,” he said.  
 The advocate general of the State, D C Raina, however has a word of caution. He said Bombay High Court judgment should be read with the provision of the Cruelty Against Animals Act and other Acts of the State. He said Jammu and Kashmir has its own laws and the Central Municipalities Act doesn’t apply in the State.  
 Though senior additional advocate general, Riyaz Hussain is in conformity with the views of the Advocate General, he has a caveat. He said the general principal in the Bombay High Court Judgment could be applied in case of Kashmir particularly when it comes to canine nuisance. He said even the Srinagar Municipal Act talks about dealing with the nuisance.   
 The additional advocate general said even in the Municipal Act of Jammu and Kashmir there is provision for disposal of mad and stray dogs and other animals in section 122 and 133 of the Act. The Act, he said casts a duty upon the municipal authority to destroy or cause to destroy stray dogs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

War is no option: India Inc

Mallya for promotion of tourism, hops cultivation in Kashmir 
Naseer A Ganai 
Srinagar, Jan 13: Buoyed by recent turnout in elections, Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya today said he would start international flights from Kashmir, open an industrial plant in Zainakote, promote tourism by introducing Kashmir in Europe and re-start hops cultivation to generate employment in the valley. Mallya, who is also chairman of the UB Group- a multi-national conglomerate of over 60 companies- said India Inc doesn’t want war with Pakistan as it would affect the economy.
 Mallya, who is on a visit to Kashmir, while talking to reporters here on Monday expressed his views over a range of issues including Kashmir elections and cricket and said the turnout in Kashmir elections has surprised many people in India. “Every one of us was watching Kashmir elections keenly and the voter turnout surprised all of us. I think it is good beginning for promotion of tourism in Kashmir,” Mallya said.
 Vijay Mallya is the son of a famous industrialist Vittal Mallya. He talked at length about his family’s association with Kashmir and Abdullahs. He described Omar Abdullah as young and dynamic and hoped that the transition would augur well for the State.
 He said his airlines, Kingfisher, would apply to the Government of India soon to seek permission to open international flight to Dubai directly from Srinagar. Presently, the Kingfisher Airlines is connecting Srinagar to various cities of India including Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Pune, and Lucknow. He said at the Srinagar Airport today he saw Air India flight and inquired about it.
 “I was told that flight was carrying Kashmiri pilgrims who had gone to Makkah to perform Hajj. I thought if Air India can do it, why can’t we,” he said, adding that he has given directions for securing the necessary sanction from the Government of India to operate international flight from Srinagar to Dubai. The Kingfisher Airlines, he said, was also interested to start flights from Srinagar to Jammu, Leh to Jammu, and Srinagar to Chandigarh and hoped that it would commence preferably after April 2009.
 “Whatever commitments I have given to people of Jammu and Kashmir in past I have fulfilled them all and in future I would continue to do my best,” he said.
 Mallya said the State of Jammu and Kashmir has “tremendous potential for tourism” and he would project Kashmir in Europe. He said tourism specific packages would be given and his staff would be asked to sell Kashmir in Europe and other countries.
 Asked now when the situation in Kashmir has improved would he ask the government to repeal the Disturbed Areas Act, he said he was not competent to comment on it and has no interest in “getting into State politics.” He said after Mumbai attacks many countries issued travel advisories to their citizens cautioning them against traveling to India but it has not stopped tourist flow. Economic recession, he said, has made India and Jammu Kashmir State as cheaper places with good facilities as attractive options. 
 Tourism, Mallya said has not been marketed as it should have been and in the western countries people only know about Rajasthan and have no information about others parts of India including beautiful Kashmir valley.
 He said he would not deny that Mumbai attacks had an impact on tourism but “I should say it had no profound impact.” He said India offers quality at cheap price and it would continue to attract tourists. He said time has come when places other than Rajasthan should be introduced in the West. “Mountains of Kashmir are incomparable and I see lot of opportunities here for tourism and I would use my Airline to be carrier for promotion of tourism in Kashmir,” he said.
 Referring to his family’s ties with Abdullah family, he said his father had met Sher-i-Kashmir (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah) in 1972 and they had become good friends. His father had started hops cultivation in Shilvak area here. “It was successful project and Sher-i-Kashmir had taken keen interest in the cultivation,” he added. The hop (Humulus Lupulus) is a hardy, perennial plant which produces annual vines from a permanent root stock (crown).
 He said hop cultivated in Kashmir were greatly appreciated as it has high quality acid value and has great taste. He however said it was destroyed by insurgents when militancy erupted in Kashmir. He would re-start the cultivation, he said. He said he will also see whether pharmaceutical plant that was producing optrix in Zainkote industrial area could be restarted. He said the plant was providing employment but it was closed down due to uncertain conditions. He said if the plant would restart it will generate employment for Kashmiri youth and only Kashmiris will be employed in the plant.
 Commenting on present India-Pakistan stand-off, Mallya said that India Inc doesn’t want war with Pakistan. He reiterated that war is not an option and even the Foreign Minister has stated it. He said no one is for war as it affects the economy but he hastily added that he has no comments on the government decision of cancelling Indian cricket team’s tour to Pakistan. “Why should I comment on the wisdom of the government,” he added. He said there were many players in the Indian Premier League from Pakistan.
 Mallya described Satyam episode as unfortunate. However he said the incident shouldn’t be used as an example to look at suspiciously on all companies of India. Mallya said his group has set highest standards.

Monday, January 5, 2009

For visiting other Kashmir at the age of 10 in 1965, 55 year old put on deportation list


Srinagar, Jan 5: In October 2008, Abdul Wahid Bhat, a resident of Khanyar in old city of Srinagar Kashmir, was relaxing in his home when policemen conveyed to him that he is on deportation list. He was asked to leave India in 15 days. 

 “I was shocked at first,” Wahid says. “My family is here, my children are here, relatives here and still I am told to leave Jammu and Kashmir, my birth place in 15 days. At this age where will I go? ” he asks.  

 In 1965, Abdul Wahid Bhat, then ten years old, along with his aunt went to Azad Jammu and Kashmir on a valid document. He said his aunt had children in AJK who had left Kashmir in 1947. He stayed there for three months. And soon, on September 5, 1965 India-Pakistan war broke out and continued till September 17, 1965. 

 During the war he had reached Wagah border to cross to India but he was pushed back. He stayed back in other Kashmir. His aunt died there. Later, he said, his father and mother traveled to AJK and brought him back here after he obtaining Pakistani passport for traveling to Kashmir.

 Back home, he surrendered Pakistani passport before the Indian authorities and started living as a bonafide citizen of Jammu and Kashmir. 

 But in 1980, police registered an FIR under Foreigners Act against him in the police station Khanyar. Subsequently, in 1983 a challan was presented before the Court. He pleaded in the Court that he didn’t acquire Pakistani passport voluntarily. He faced the trial and after eight years, the Court acquitted him. 

 Wahid says for past 29 years he has run his family business and has not violated any condition of citizenship of being permanent resident of the state. He is also enrolled by the Election Commission of India as permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir.   

 But still in October 2008, he was shocked when secretary Home Department Government of India through CID informed him to leave India and the Jammu and Kashmir state. “I went to Home Department but they didn’t handover the deportation order to me,” he says. 

 Forced by the circumstances he went to the High Court challenging the order of the Home Department through his counsel Mir Shafaqat Hussain. The Court has issued the orders to the state not to disturb the present status of Wahid. “Why I should be deported. I have my roots here and the Court has already acquitted me,” he says.

Meanwhile, in a significant ruling the High Court has directed the State government to issue passport to a doctor who was denied it by the State on grounds that his mother is heading a separatist organisation in Kashmir. Reports said there are thousands of such cases in Kashmir where passport are being denied, salaries and intelligence clearance for jobs withheld, to persons on grounds that they are relatives of separatists. The relatives of ex-militants, separatists, and even human rights activities are being denied the passport. 

The State had argued that if given the passport the doctor would establish links with the separatists outside the country as his mother is herself a separatist. But the State has averred that there is no adverse report against the petitioner Dr. Massarat Maqbool. After he was denied a passport he filed a petition through his counsel Mir Shafaqat.

In the Court State pleaded that it refused the passport on grounds that his mother is chairperson of a separatist organisation. The state argued that due to “her militancy background” she is indexed in the CID records. 

But there was nothing against the petitioner Dr Massarat. Still in view of the adverse family background his case was not recommended to the passport officer for issuance of passport in his favour. The state argues that there are apprehensions that the petitioner might establish links at the “behest of his mother” with the separatists abroad.

The High Court dwelled upon the issue and observed that the question is whether petitioner could be denied passport on the ground that his mother is chairperson of the separatist organisation when the State says there is nothing against the petitioner.

The Court cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in a case Satwant Sawhney verses D Ramrathnam. In the case the Apex Court has held that no person can be deprived of his right to travel except according to the procedure established under the law.

The High Court said the same views have been expressed by the Apex Court in case Maneka Gandhi versus Union of India. The Court referred to another case of the High Court that has held that it is not permissible under the law that when ‘A’ has committed a crime ‘B’ should be punished for it. 

In the present case, the Court said, the State has taken a definite stand that there is nothing adverse in the CID records against the petitioner. 

Therefore, the Court observed that the State move to deny the passport to Dr Massarat is illegal and in violation of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Court directed the State to issue the passport to the petitioner within four weeks.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Solidarity march for Gaza victims stopped in Kashmir, 17 injured

Srinagar, Jan 2: Hundreds of Kashmiris were out to  express solidarity with people of Gaza. But police didn't allow them to carry forward solidarity march. 17 people were injured when protesters in Kashmir clashed with the police. 
After offering funeral prayers to those martyred in Gaza at Kashmir’s grand mosque Jamia Masjid, hundred of people including women marched on the streets of Srinagar, shouting anti-Israel slogans. They burned Israeli flag as well.  
 “We want to show Israel that people of Palestine are not alone in their fight against oppression and discrimination. We share a common objective with the Palestinians and pledge our support to them by staging protests against Israel and reaffirm our commitment to free Kashmir from chains of bondage,” Zahoor Ahmad, a protester told a correspondent of a local daily. 
 The prayers were led by chairman of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who linked the Palestine issue with the Kashmir dispute urging the international community to respect sentiments of people of the territories and help them to attain the right of self-determination. Hurriyat considers Kashmir as disputed and seeks its solution according to UN resolutions. 

As more youth joined the protests, police blocked the road at Khanyar by placing concertina wires and barricades. The protesters attempted to remove the blockades but police fired several tear smoke shells toward the protesters and chased them away. 
Protester pelted stones at police and paramilitary CRPF troopers. During the clashes the CRPF troopers once again severely thrashed several photojournalists, including GK photographer Mubashir Khan. The troopers beat up the journalists who were taking photos and filming the troopers detaining some youths. The clashes continued for several hours.
Earlier, while addressing the Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid, the Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz condemned the Israel’s onslaught on Palestine and expressed concern over what he termed as criminal silence of international community, including Muslim countries. 
 “We can understand the pain and suffering of people of Palestine as we are ourselves victims of terrorism and oppression by the Indian occupation troops. History bears testimony to the fact that Kashmiris have always raised their voice whenever inhuman acts were committed upon the Palestinians,” Mirwaiz said as devotes reciprocated by pro-freedom slogans.  
 Saluting the courage and resilience of Kashmiris and Palestinians, Mirwaiz said no force can suppress their sentiments. “Despite facing powerful countries, unarmed Kashmiris and Palestinians have been offering sacrifices and valiantly fighting against discrimination and the right of self-determination. What has added insult to injury of Muslims is the criminal silence of United Nations, Organization of Islamic Countries and Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia over the massacre of innocents in Palestine,” Mirwaiz said. 

Mirwaiz said, “If Israel with support of its god-father US has attacked Palestine its next target could be Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim Countries. It is a challenge for Muslim leadership to come forward and stop Israel from committing acts of terrorism. At least let the Muslim countries be united on the grave issue and impose sanctions on Israel to force it to stop killing more Palestinians,” he said.   
 Reports said protests against Israel were also held in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district. Mirwaiz Islamabad, Qazi Yasir managed to escape from the house arrest and lead the funeral prayers in absentia of Palestine victims. 

6-years after, PDP says it has no compatiblity with Congress

'Had Jamaat voted for PDP, We would have won in Sopur'
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, Jan 2: Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed today hinted towards scrapping ties with United Progressive Alliance, saying that the political agenda of his party is not compatible with the UPA and the Congress.
“We have to choose our own path. The political agenda of the PDP is not compatible with Congress party,” the PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed said in his first interaction with the media after recent elections in which the PDP emerged as second largest party but failed to form the Government as Congress entered into an alliance with the National Conference.
Though he stated it was not for him to decide about the party’s future course of action regarding the UPA he said the party’s working committee would take decision about whether the party would snap ties with the Congress and UPA or not.
Asked why the party felt the “incompatibility” after being in alliance with Congress-led UPA Government for six years, Mufti said his party is a regional party with self-rule, demilitarization and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act as its mains political goals and these political goals wouldn’t obviously go well with the Congress and UPA. He said for last six years the PDP has raised the political issues with the UPA at all forums. “The self-rule document is an open book for all to see. I have given it to the prime minister when I met him,” Mufti said.
Mufti described the Congress claim that PDP had extended unconditional support to it for forming the Government in the State as “bundle of lies” and said there was not an iota of truth in the Congress statement. He said the PDP would play the role of effective opposition and would endeavor to take its self-rule agenda forward.
Flanked by MLA Syed Basharat Bukhari, Mufti said he has no problem with the Congress-National Conference alliance. “And the PDP has no grudge against the Congress for entering into an alliance with the National Conference. I wish Omer Abdullah well for being nominated as the chief minister of the State,” he said.
Accusing the National Conference of not allowing any other regional force to grow in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the alliance with the NC would not have been prudent. He said even for the constituent assembly, the NC didn’t allow anyone to contest against them. He described the PDP as only alternative regional party to the NC.
To a question on the alleged Jama’at Islami support to the Peoples Democratic Party, Mufti said had Jama’at voted for the PDP, the party would have won in Sopur. However he said if Jama’at has voted it should not raise eyebrows and the participation should be welcomed.
Mufti said there was need for development and his party has always strived for the development of the State.” But he had a caveat: “The development would not yield the desired result as long as basic problem of Kashmir issue is not resolved.”
Mufti cautioned New Delhi against misconstruing the “large voter turn-out” as “end of Kashmir problem” and said instead of getting complacent, the Government of India should seize the moment and revive the Kashmir resolution process, with renewed resolve, both on the bilateral and internal fronts.
He said it is the opportune time for New Delhi to re-initiate an inclusive dialogue process involving various shades of the political opinion in the State to find amicable solution to the State’s political and economic problems.
Mufti said the people have given mandate to the PDP agenda that reflects their true aspirations. “Emerging as a strong regional force, there is a decisive role ahead for the PDP in charting out a new destiny for the State and its people,” he said.
He said the “PDP has laid a clear roadmap for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue in its self-rule document that has been substantively endorsed by the people across the State.”
He said in recently held elections the PDP has lost almost six seats by a very low margin. In Sonwar with 94 votes, Langate 210, Rajouri 216, Kulgam 236, Rajouri 233 and it shows the voting percentage of the party, Mufti said.
“It would be now PDP’s mission to work towards the implementation of its J&K-centric agenda that clearly illustrates a way forward for the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he said, adding that the emerging post-election reality is that PDP is a rising political force extending rapidly its area of influence across the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. “PDP’s tryst with the destiny of Kashmir has been endorsed by the masses and it would be now our moral responsibility to voice the urges and aspirations of its people,” he said.
He said “having rejected violence, people of Jammu and Kashmir have reposed their faith in peaceful and democratic means for the resolution of their problems and this momentous transformation has to be respected and responded with substantive measures by New Delhi.”
“The country’s leadership must now respond to this new opportunity and rejuvenate the Kashmir resolution process with fresh resolve,” he said and added that any overt or covert effort to depoliticize Kashmir would have dangerous fallout.
“I assure the people that PDP would fortify this mandate by representing and safeguarding their aspirations and just concerns as a responsible political party,” he said.