Thursday, March 26, 2009


From tertiary care to JK biggest dispensary  

Naseer A Ganai 

Srinagar, Mar 25: In 1970s, when the former chief minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, used to visit PGI, Chandigarh, or the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for treatment, he would be moved by the sight of long queues of patients from Jammu and Kashmir waiting for their turn. He felt the need for a medical institution at par with AIIMS and the PGI in the state itself. 

 Back home, he discussed the plan with leading doctors of Kashmir. Dr Ali Jan, Dr Allaqaband and Dr Jehan Ara Naqashbandi were among them. Sheikh traveled to different states across the country to meet with leading doctors. The outcome of these efforts was the Sher-i-Kashmir Medical Trust for which he sought donations from anyone and everyone. 
 Since a lot of money and time was required to build and commission an Institute of Medical Sciences, small beginnings were made to provide improved healthcare facilities at Soura. The Sher-i-Kashmir National Medical Institute Trust was established to collect funds for the purpose. Its Trust deed was signed on May 19, 1973, and a 30-bedded Trust hospital was commissioned. In 1975, the state government decided to establish an Institute of Medical Sciences at Soura. In pursuance of this decision, the Trust offered 292 kanal eight marla land, then worth Rs 1,66,96,000, for construction of the Institute. The government of Jammu and Kashmir transferred 214 kanals and six marlas to the Institute.   
 The funds for constructing and equipping the Institute were provided by the state government under 5th and 6th plan grants earmarked for the Institute and the Planning Commission approved it as a plan project. The construction of the Institute building commenced in 1976 and though it was incomplete in many respects, the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences was commissioned on December 5, 1982. 
 Sheikh got Dr Nagpal from the PGI Chandigarh to head the prestigious Institute. The then director of the AIIMS had asked the Sheikh that Dr Nagpal would be a great asset to the Trust. Young Dr Nagpal was then the deputy medical superintendent at the PGI, Chandigarh. And, he lived upto the Sheikh’s expectations. 
 Those who have worked with him describe Dr Nagpal a bright doctor with great administrative abilities. He held hundreds of meetings with the young faculty in Kashmir and discussed each and every plan about the Institute. Not a single brick was laid without a plan. In every ward, there is a fire exit, not used now. For in-patients, there was system in place near the bed to call the nurse. The international and the national experts in different fields were called to give final touches to every plan. Then started the struggle to mobilize resources for the Institute.
 Dr Nagpal and his team held scores of meetings with the Finance Department, government of India. The present governor, N.N Vohra, was in the Finance department. Instead of portraying the SKIMS as a Trust, Dr Nagpal convinced the authorities that be that it was an Institute. “He would always present larger than life image of the Trust,” says a former director. 
 The central government asked the state whether it wanted the SKIMS to be a national institute directly under the government of India like AIIMS and PGI. Sheikh put his foot down. He said it would come up as a state institute but with the central funding. This settled, the governing body of the SKIMS was formed. The director of the Institute was designated as the ex-officio secretary to government with unlimited administrative and financial powers. There were in-house purchase committees to facilitate procurement, apical selection committee to find and choose best faculty, material management department to pursue and streamline local, national and foreign purchases, a number of committees to search, employ and promote staff and a governing body headed by the chief minister to define policies and pursue SKIMS growth. 
 This reduced the red tape and facilitated expeditious decisions. And, Dr Nagpal ensured that the SKIMS remained free from red-tape. He had proposed the idea of committees for purchasing, recruitment, constructions and other fields. The SKIMS was planned to have four major specialties. These were neurology/neurosurgery; cardiology/cardiovascular surgery; nephrology/urology and cancer therapy (oncology, radiotherapy and surgical oncology). All other clinical departments were made as supportive services. There was no place for general physicians and surgeons as secondary level medical care was not envisaged in SKIMS. Emergency department to cater to 24 hour casualties was never conceived in SKIMS, as all patients whether elective or emergency would be referred to SKIMS and received accordingly.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

World Water Day

Chenab power projects

Is it an arrangement by Delhi to exploit JK water resources? 

Srinagar, Mar 21: Formation of a Joint Venture Company, Chenab Power Projects (Pvt) Limited, to tap the hydel potential in Chenab basin is seen by experts, industrialists and the common man as yet another attempt by the centre to exploit the state’s resources. Calling the arrangement one-sided and discriminatory to JK’s interests, they have sought scrapping of the deal.
 The company, that would develop 2120 MW of power, was formed after the state government signed a MoU with National Hydro-electric Power Corporation in October, 2008. 
 The then managing director, Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation, Shant Manu, had told Greater Kashmir that once the popular government returned, the Chief Minister would be nominated as the ex-officio chairman of the company. But that is yet to happen even after an elected government is in place for more than 70 days past.
 The NHPC will have a share of not less than 51 per cent and the PDC not more than 49 per cent of the total share-holding in the company.
 The business fraternity has reacted sharply to the MoU, saying the state’s water resources were being ‘sold out’ to Delhi. The president of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, Shakeel Qalandar, termed the arrangement as one-sided. He said there was no need for the government to sign the MoU with the NHPC that has already ‘taken seven projects and is known for its inefficiency.’ “It took NHPC 30 years to complete Dulhasti and Salal projects, and the company has not compensated the state for the excess time. One wonders why the government goes for deals with the NHPC?” he asked, urging the state government to scrap the MoU.
 He said Baglihar was a success story and despite financial hassles and other hurdles, the state completed it in nine years. He said the state could have developed the projects in the Chenab basin on its own. 
 Some senior officials said on condition of anonymity that “less than 49 per cent” provision for the State was a mockery. “The deal needs to be re-looked at as it amounts to be playing with the interests of the State,” says an official.
 The biggest project to be built on Chenab is Pakal Dul, a reservoir-based scheme on river Marusudar, the main tributary of river Chenab, in Kishtwar district. The project envisages an underground powerhouse of 1000 MW, 4 units of 250 MW each. Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi would be major beneficiaries of the project.
 “For Delhi, JK is a colony and its water resources are to be looted. The central government has no concern if JK starves for power while feeding entire north India. It first blocks JK’s move to built its own projects by refusing to give counter-guarantee to the interested foreign investors, then makes the state sign discriminatory deals with NHPC,” said Javed, a university student.
 In 2000, the NHPC ‘took away’ seven projects from the State. They include 240 MW Uri II, 330 MW Kishanganga, 120 MW Seva II, 1000 MW Bursar, 44 MW Chitak, 45 MW Nemo-Buzgo. The State government tried to develop these projects itself but the central government stalled the move by not giving counter-guarantees to foreign firms which were interested in developing these projects, forcing the then chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, to handover the projects to the NHPC.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Killings embarrassed government

Says Guilty Would Be Punished, Army To Be Made ‘Invisible’


Srinagar, Mar 20: The chief minister, Omar Abdullah, today acknowledged that the government was put to an embarrassment by the recent killings of civilians by troops and said that steps would be taken after the parliamentary elections to strengthen Jammu and Kashmir Police and make the army ‘invisible’ in the state.
 “Our government that took oath on January 5, had promised the people zero tolerance to human rights violations. But the recent incidents have embarrassed the government as these had belied our promise that such incidents won’t take place,” Omar said while addressing a press conference here this evening. 
 However, he said the government didn’t indulge in sloganeering when two persons were killed in Bomai. Instead, it was quick to order a magisterial probe. “The government ordered magisterial probe, police registered an FIR and the army ordered Court of Inquiry,” he said, adding that in a short period of time the probe was completed.
 Omar said the army had accepted the “lapses in command, judgment and misuse of service weapons that led to murder in Bomai.” 
 Asked about the army claims of cross firing, he said, “When they say it was a murder it means there was no cross firing.” He said the army had agreed to club the government’s inquiry report with the findings of its Court of Inquiry.
 He said the Court of Inquiry in Bomai incident had indicted three soldiers, including a JCO, and in Pakherpora incident, where CRPF shot dead a carpenter, 4 paramilitary personnel had been suspended. 
 “Justice shouldn’t be only done but it should be seen to be done. Human rights violations would not be accepted and severe action would be taken against armed forces personnel involved in the killings,” Omar promised.
 Dispelling the impression that his government was in confrontation with the army, Omar said in the entire course of action after the Bomai incident there was full coordination between the army and the civil administration. However, he said, in both Bomai and Khaigam incidents, the army and the paramilitary forces didn’t follow the Standard Operational Procedure and this led to the murders.
 The chief minister said he had talked to the GOC 15 corps about relocation of Bomai camp as demanded by the people. He said the camp would be located after government would find alternate site within six or seven days. 
 Usually, he said, the army and paramilitary forces followed the SOP and rules. “But, some elements perceive themselves above the law and violate the SOP,” he said. The chief minister, however, insisted that army was not interested in covering up incidents of human rights violation. 
 “The human rights violations undermine the image of army and it is not interested in covering up the incidents like Bomai,” he said. He said they ordered the Court of Inquiry and within days came up with the report.
 Omar said after the parliament elections the government would continue “the process to minimize the close contact of the armed forces with people.” He said the army would be shifted from hospitals, agriculture lands, schools and other public places. 
 His government, Omar said, didn’t politicize the incidents but straightaway ordered time-bound probes and fixed the responsibility to discourage their recurrence. “There were no photo-ops to distribute cheques among the next-of-kin of the victims but time-bound, transparent probes,” Omar said.
 About the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, Omar, in an apparent reference to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, said out of power some people had woken up to the demand of its revocation. He said in contrast to them he has sought its revocation on the floor of Assembly. He favoured the withdrawal of AFSPA, saying the situation was returning to normal. He said there was a window of opportunity that was opening up for the state after the parliament elections. He hoped that the Act would be revoked in NC-Congress coalition government.


Killing for sport
Khaigam (Pakharpora), Mar 19: Despair and gloom is writ large on the faces of every single individual in this sleepy hamlet near the famous resort of Yusmarg as hundreds of people from adjoining villages headed to join the funeral procession of Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Malik (37), killed by paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force personnel on Wednesday evening. 
Crying bitterly, Shahnawaz, the 12-year old son of slain Malik, who is in his 6th grade, asks everyone around to “bring back his Papa” knowing little that he had departed for a place wherefrom nobody has ever returned. “I was sitting with my grandfather when the CRPF troopers came and enquired about guests. They closed the door on us and asked us to flee. We went to our aunt’s house. Later, we learnt our father had been martyred,” said Shahnawaz, adding he did not want anything except the return of his father.

Going by the sequence of events, there was no compelling reason for the troopers to go for the kill. It seems to be a murder for sport.
Malik has never been a militant in his life. In fact, this village has not contributed a single person toward militancy, or witnessed a gunfight, real or staged, in the past two decades. A carpenter by profession, the deceased had tremendous responsibilities on his shoulders. He was the only breadwinner of his family comprising his pregnant wife, four children, ailing 70-year old mother, and deaf 78-year old father. 
The carpenter was giving finishing touches to a single story house he had been constructing for the past three years, while living on the largesse of a neighbor who had given him a house to live in, and in which he was brutally shot dead. He was not caught up in a gunfight--real or staged--between the troopers and militants that he could be labeled as collateral damage. Police records have nothing against him. There is nothing that could remotely establish a connection between his murder and the incursion of the CRPF troopers into his house on Wednesday evening.

The village chowkidar, Nazir Ahmad Magray son of Muhammad Abdullah, witnessed it all. He says:
“A group of CRPF men came to my house and ordered me to accompany them for a search operation. Before going for search, one of them told me how many Akbars live in this village. I said three. But they didn’t ask me about their specific details. Instead, they led me straight to the house of Ghulam Mohiuddin. There I found several troopers had already cordoned off the house. 
“A Kashmiri speaking trooper called by his colleagues as Pandit went with me inside and they asked Mohiuddin’s father, ‘Was there any guest in the house?’. He told them there wasn’t any. Then they searched the rooms. The ground floor is used for rearing cows. In the second story, we found Mohiuddin’s mother resting in one of rooms, and his son and father in the other. 
“Then the Kashmiri speaking trooper and his partner went to the space under roof where the family stores fodder and grains. But from the landing itself they shot a volley of fire toward the right side of the Kanee (the crawl space below the roof) where Ghulam Mohiuddin was shuffling grass bundles.
“I rushed down, taken by the fear that since I saw everything they would kill me now. So I went into a room and sat with Mohiuddin’s father but not for long as I was very restless. I came out of the house and went to a CRPF hawildar. I asked him did you kill a militant there? Was he a militant you fired at? He said ‘gapla hogaya (it was a blunder), there were no militants there.’ Just then I received a call from my wife. She had heard gunshots and my family was feeling worried. That is when I noticed the time. It was 7.22 PM.”
Asked if there was cross-fire in the house as claimed by the CRPF spokesman, Nazir said, “It is a big lie. Would he have fired with grass? The only fire I heard was theirs.” Nazir said he returned to the house with Mohiuddin’s cousin he met in the village. “When we came back we found the troopers were leaving from the spot like thieves. We took a gas lamp and went straight to the roof space. We found Ghulam Mohiuddin’s body among bundles of grass. His chest was riddled with bullets,” Nazir said.

The area of the crawl space doesn’t exceed more than 150 sq feet. It is packed with bundles of paddy and corn straw, the fodder for cattle. Three big wooden boxes filled with rice occupy the rest of the space. Ghulam Mohiuddin had gone there to fetch the fodder for the cattle. His body was found in the right corner of the space. 
This morning, police recovered a live bullet of INSAS rifle (used by Indian armed forces) and several cartridges near the spot where he fell to the bullets of the troopers, suggesting he had been shot from very close range. 
The landing, from which the troopers fired, according to eyewitness Nazir, is nearly two and half metres away from the spot. 
Police marked with chalk the portion of a wooden pole pockmarked with bullets. Mohiuddin had fallen close to this pole. Concentration of bullet marks on a nine inch space of the pole indicates the troopers fired toward him, the policemen said. Police also found bullet marks on the wooden planks, all on the right corner of the space. They didn’t find a single bullet mark in any other direction. 
Policemen who were collecting forensic evidence said that killing was targeted, as they didn’t find a stray bullet mark on the tin roof or the planks in any other direction except the right corner where Malik was picking up the bundle. Cross fire, they said, is random, not directed like this case. Besides, the troopers had fired at least 19 bullets into his chest, an unlikely case in cross fire, the policemen said.
The villagers said that while fleeing from the house the troopers fired some shots toward the house to make it look like cross fire.

Asked if the CRPF troopers violated the Standard Operational Procedure that makes it mandatory for the armed forces to inform the local police prior to a counter-militancy operation, and also take police along during such operations, the deputy inspector general of police, Rajesh Kumar, told Greater Kashmir, “They didn’t inform police prior to the incident. Yes, they have violated the SOP again.” 
After the killing of two civilians in Bomai, Sopur, last month the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, had asked the armed forces to follow the SOP, but army violated it in Bomai murdering two civilians, the CRPF violated it in Khaigam, murdering the carpenter Ghulam Mohiuddin.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Probes in Kashmir

Army Has Always Objected To State Probes, Say Legal Experts


Srinagar, Mar 18: The Bomai killing is not the first incident where the Army has objected to the inquiry ordered by the state government. In several earlier cases, it had questioned the validity of such probes. 
 In Bomai case, a magisterial inquiry ordered by Omar Abdullah on February 22 blamed army personnel for not verifying the claims of their informers before shooting down the two men. The district magistrate had reportedly asked the army to present the troopers involved in the killing. But the army wrote back saying such an inquiry was invalid, sources said.
 On September 22, 2006, the state government had ordered a probe vide its order No 3185-LD (A) of 2006 into the killing of four cricket playing boys allegedly by the army personnel. In its terms of reference, the inquiry officer had to find out the cause and circumstances leading to the killing, identify the persons who fired at the boys, fix responsibility and recommend the action against the personnel involved. 
 However, the army had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the state government to order the probe into the matter “regarding the armed forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.” The army argued the state of Jammu and Kashmir could not make any law with regard to the matters falling under the entry-2 and 2(a) of the list-1 and the matters which had been excluded in entry-1 of list III of the 7th schedule of Constitution of India. It sought withdrawal of the notices against army personnel.  
 The state government, through the then Advocate General, Altaf Husain Naik, and the High Court Bar Association, resisted the application. The HCBA president, Mian Abdul Qayoom, filed objection to the army’s application before the inquiry officer describing it as “illegally conceived that deserves to be dismissed.” 
 He argued that Article 246 of the Constitution applied to the state with certain exceptions. “Neither entry 2A of the Union List nor the State list or else the concurrent list is applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” he argued. That, he said, meant the legislative power of Jammu Kashmir extended to all matters including the one of appointing a Commission of Inquiry to conduct enquiry into any incident involving the army. 
 After 42th amendment, Qayoom argued, the legislative power of parliament in respect of deployment of armed forces in aide to civil power flew from the entry 2-A of the Union list. “As the 42th amendment itself is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, the application is legally untenable,” he said. 
 He said similar objections were raised by the army when the state government ordered an inquiry into an incident. The matter went to the Supreme Court which dismissed the army’s objections.
 In his objections, the HCBA president cited the “Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights versus Union of India” saying that the Apex Court had “authoritatively held that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act did confer arbitrary and unguided power to the army to do whatever they want in a disturbed area.” He said the Apex Court held it was necessary if any compliant accusing misuse or abuse of power conferred under the Act, should be thoroughly inquired into and if it is found that there is substance in the allegations, the victim should be suitably compensated and requisite sanction should be granted for prosecution and civil suit or other proceedings against the persons responsible for such violations. 
 Interestingly, after the objections filed by the state government and the Bar, the army withdrew the application. But at a later stage of the probe, it again raised similar contentions. The inquiry officer, Syed Tariq Ahmad Naqashbandi, who was then the district and sessions judge, observed that the army could not be allowed to approbate and reprobate at the same time and dismissed the application.   
 However, in Pathribal case, the army has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court as well as the lower courts’ decision that the accused army personnel be tried in a civil court or made to face court-martial. 
 The case deals with the alleged abduction and murder of five unarmed civilians in Pathribal, Islamabad, in March 2000. The CBI indicted the army personnel in the case and produced challan against them in the court. The High Court, the sessions and lower courts had ruled that the personnel involved in Pathribal killings should be tried in a civil court or made to face court-martial. 
 However, the army said that its men named in the CBI charge-sheet were protected under para 7 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, and before challenging them, permission of the central government had to be sought. 
 The army had filed appeals in the additional sessions court on behalf of the five officials and GOC 15 Corps, challenging a lower court’s order asking the Army for its opinion on whether the accused should face court-martial or be tried in a civil court.
 On November 30, 2006, the additional sessions court rejected the army’s plea that the accused couldn’t be tried before sanction to prosecution from the Home Ministry. Six months later, the J-K High Court too rejected the army’s petition, though it asked the chief judicial magistrate, Srinagar, to give the army fresh chance to file its opinion. 
 The additional solicitor general, Anil Bhan, told Greater Kashmir that the case was pending in the Supreme Court which had stayed the proceedings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Listen to Musharraf


Listen to Musharraf when he speaks, there is a huge scope for dialogue, comments Naseer A Ganai.

Recently the former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf addressed India Today Conclave in New Delhi. Responding to questions, Musharraf, in his speech, linked Kargil and Siachen to Kashmir dispute. He warned that if the “story went on” there would be more Kargils and Siachens. He said Kashmir remains the key dispute and core point. “We had a freedom struggle since 1947. The non-violent movement turned into militancy because of the public sympathy in Pakistan for the people of Kashmir which gave rise to dozens of freelance Mujahideen groups.” 
“Terrorism and extremism are a state of mind.  If we have to kill terrorism and extremism, we have to change our state of mind. We need to address terrorism and extremism in long and short term perspective,” Musharraf urged.
In a way Mushraff described Kashmir as the mother of all disputes in the sub-continent. 
The National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is infamous for shooting his mouth off, heard Musharraf patiently. 
The silence of Dr Farooq was admission of reality of the Kashmir dispute. And it is this reality that India should come into terms with. New Delhi’s and its media’s perpetual state of denial would bring nothing to the region except chaos. It would strengthen the forces inimical to the peace and stability. It would give room to what Musharraf says extremists, who are averse to ideas, like freedom, liberty, peace, justice, secularism and democracy. 
India has accepted Kashmir as a dispute but then it forgets its promises when it presumes even the slightest change in situation. On August 7, 1952, Nehru told the Indian Parliament: “As the House knows, we have decided right at the beginning that we are agreeable to a plebiscite in which all the people of Jammu and Kashmir will take part. We are resolved not to dishonor this pledge we have given to the people of India and therefore, we shall pursue policy accordingly… We do not want to win the people against their will and if people of Jammu and Kashmir want to part company with us, they can go their way and we shall go ours.” 
In 1995 when situation was tense in Kashmir and Dr Farooq Abdullah had not offered his services to be part of democratic farce enacted in the State in 1996, former Prime Minister of India Narasimha Rao famously promised people of Kashmir from Burkina Fasco, a little known Island in West Africa “anything short of Azadi.”  
Now 13 years down the line, New Delhi doesn’t even consider Kashmir as a dispute and it doesn’t even discuss demilitarization of Kashmir. There are no Taliban in Kashmir and the demands of the political parties of Kashmir are not non-negotiable. The pro-freedom camp is not asking something that is alien. They are asking for something that has been accepted by India. That is resolution of Kashmir dispute. 
No one in Kashmir espouses the exclusivist ideology. Even the US that went for war in Afghanistan and Iraq obviously to impose its ideals of democracy and liberty is ready to talk to Taliban. 
A year ago, Taliban were pariahs. But now the president Barack Obama has declared that the United States is not winning the war in Afghanistan, and it opened doors for reconciliation process. Now the US says that it would talk to moderate Taliban. In future, the reconciliation will be the new strategy of USA in Afghanistan.
The West is ready to negotiate with Taliban. They have given them even new name now: Moderate Taliban. In Kashmir there are no Taliban. But here you have unrest, frustration, anger and a bottled up resentment. Every day when an incident of human rights violation takes place here, youth come out to give vent to their anger by pelting stones knowing well that in retaliation bullets would be fired on them and they can get killed. And many of them got killed. But it continues unabated.
Today we have the leadership in likes of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and in Syed Ali Shah Geelani. And they have publicly said no to stone pelting. In present day Kashmir, no one is hardliner. Those who even object to the stone pelting and call for peaceful struggle shouldn’t be branded as the hardliners. There is enough room for dialogue and the resolution. 
In fact, there is more. In the Muslim world, every one rejects the West and its interventionist policy. But Kashmir welcomes any intervention of the West. Isn’t it strange? 
The Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is the chief pontiff of Kashmir or the religious head. And when Kashmir was not in the mandate of Richard Holbrooke, Mirwaiz expressed dismay and anger.  
If Pervez Mushraff is to be believed, Islamabad is ready for demilitarization and making borders irrelevant. He exhorted India to make the borders ‘’irrelevant’’ and ‘’tear down the Line of Control’’ and said ‘’this (the LoC) is another Berlin Wall it needs to be torn down.’’
No one in Kashmir is against the “making borders irrelevant and demilitarization.” These steps would bring an era of peace and development in Kashmir and in the whole region. 
Kashmir has now become essential for peace in South Asia. Shabir Shah, the Hurriyat leader who has been described by the Amnesty International as “prisoner of consciences” always says “South Asia would burn if Kashmir is not solved.” Many people in Kashmir would laugh at it. This cliché of “South Asia would burn” has frustrated many and they would ridicule it. Some would say we are already burning, and we don’t care whether South Asia remains or burns. 
But in reality subcontinent is really burning and it is at the brink of another war. And war between India and Pakistan could be their last war given their nuclear capabilities and India’s complacently jingoistic media. So time has come for New Delhi to respond to what Mushraff has stated in New Delhi. “Bury the past, and settle the core issue.” Musharraf insisted that it should be done urgently. The word “urgently” might have been used by him taking the fast changing geo-political realities in consideration. India is confident and an emerging power and Kashmir the pain in its neck. If the dispute is settled, nothing would happen to the nation state of India. Disputed regions don’t make nation states strong. Yes their settlement makes them more powerful and more respectful.

NC, PDP’s politics on Kashmiri blood
Here is another reality of the Kashmir dispute. The chief minister Omer Abdullah promised exemplary action against the troops involved in killing of two innocent youth in Bomai Sopur in North Kashmir on March 6, 2009.  The chief minister elaborated the exemplary punishment. He said he would talk to the defense minister and the home minister of India. The report has been prepared by the concerned deputy commissioner. He has identified the persons responsible for the unprovoked firing. But still there is no action. Mehbooba Mufti, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party president raised the issue in the Assembly. The PDP didn’t allow the governor to continue his speech. He left the speech half way. Ali Muhammad Sagar is the Minister of the Rural Development. He termed the PDP’s ruckus in the House as a political gimmick.  
Here is another reality. In 2006 four youth were killed in Doodhipora. They were playing cricket and the troops shot at them. Ali Muhammad Sagar was in opposition then. In Assembly, he termed the incident as genocide. See the records of the Assembly to check out the veracity. He was not alone. The present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Dr Mehboob Beg, Sharief Din Shariq, Saifullah Mir were leading from the front. They boycotted the speech of the governor. The PDP didn’t oppose the governor’s speech. 
It shows when in power the human rights violation has different connotations for the Peoples Democratic Party and when out of power it does mean different. The National Conference too applies the same yardstick. These are the ‘representatives’ of people. They apparently speak about people when they are not in ‘power’. When in power they do nothing as they come to know that it is not in their jurisdiction. However both the parties would continue to befool people as long as Kashmir dispute is not settled. Kashmir dispute should be solved for the good of region as advocated by the president Pervez Mushraff recently while addressing the India Today Conclave.

(The author is senior correspondent Greater Kashmir)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From Mohra to Baglihar

JK electric potential, a story of feats and defeats

Srinagar, Mar 10: More than a hundred years back when the then Maharaja of J&K in 1905 commissioned a 3 MW powerhouse, Mohra, it was a remarkable feat. Remember, it was the time when states in the neighborhood of J&K were groping in darkness.
 By 1980 J&K had almost become self-sufficient in power with the successful commissioning of 105 MW lower Jhelum project. Officials in power ministry say the state was generating about 200 MW at that stage and exporting some power during summer periods.
 But then came the ‘slowdown.’ The successive governments didn’t develop this sector paving way for the centre government to exploit the water resources of the state.
 In 80s the officials say the state government one after another handed over three major power schemes – 690 MW Salal, 480 MW Uri and 390 MW Dul Hasti – to the centre government under the terms and conditions not known.
 Since 1996 the state tried to develop some major hydro power projects. The government had eye on seven projects. They were 240 MW Uri II, 330 MW Kishanganga, 120 MW Seva II, 1000 MW Bursar, 1020 MW Pakaldul, 44 MW Chitak, 45 MW Nemo-Buzgo.
 The government had got the concurrence of the internationally reputed agencies for funding. The agencies had given detailed project reports to JK Power Development Corporation (SPDC).
 The foreign agencies had agreed to provide 85 percent financial assistance to the state government in developing these projects. The state government had got concurrence for developing Kishanganga and Uri II power projects from the companies which had developed Uri I. And for Seva the concurrence had come from the Seva Power Consortium.
 However the government of India allegedly stalled the projects by refusing to give counter guarantee. The counter guarantee is sovereign guarantee with which the government of India declares to foreign company that it would clear the debt in case of default by the state government.
 The state government had worked hard to develop these projects on their own as they have manpower and capability “which is being deliberately undermined to pave way for others to exploit our water resources.”
 With the government of India refusing to give counter guarantee for the State to develop and use its own water resources, the then NC government led by Farooq Abdullah assigned the seven projects to Government of India.
 On July 20, 2000 an MoU was signed between the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah and then Minister of Power Government of India, Kumaramanglam. The State government however had insisted government of India should include BOOT (Built Own Operate and Transfer) basis in the agreement, which the GoI had reportedly agreed but in the MoU this condition was skipped.
 Under the BOOT, the project is transferred to the State after 35 years. The agreement instead stated that the details of transfer would be worked out later.
 The State government would get only 12 percent royalty from these projects and rest of the power would be allocated to different States by the Government of India which would purchase the power.
 In 2000 the state started working on the Baglihar project. The project despite hiccups and controversies was completed by the state government only in nine years.
 Shakeel Kalander is president Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir. He describes Baglihar as success story of the state government. “Despite objections from Pakistan and financial constraints the state government completed the project only in nine years. It took NHPC 23 years to complete Dul Hasti and 26 years to complete Salal hydro power project and they have not paid the state for the excess period,” he said, adding that it speaks volumes about their efficiency.
 He said the Baglihar experiment should have brought confidence in the state government and it should have made the SPDC as listed company at the pattern of J&K Bank.
 “The SPDC should be taken out of government control. It should function on the pattern of J&K Bank. It should have board and the chief executive officer with state government’s least interference and CEO should be highly professional in his field. He could be a national figure or international expert. I think we should not have any objection to pay him over a Rs lakh salary,” he adds.
 He said presently the SPDC has faced the same fate as other corporations and in present manner it can’t do any good to the State. “There is no doubt the State has man power and capability.  The State cadre officers are highly capable. But they need a listed company on the pattern J&K Bank to exploit water resources of the State for the benefit of the state,” he said.
 But here is the irony. Though the Baglihar project was developed in nine years, the state government for these years has failed to train SPDC staff to operate the project.
 “For nine years the government could have trained the staff. Even now the SIMENS has approached the state government asking it that they would train the staff in some months but the state government has made up its mind and has decided to give the operating contract to NHPC,” sources said adding that the state government has not accepted the offer of SIMENS though it is cheaper.
 A senior official of the power ministry told Greater Kashmir that the contract would be signed for two months only. He said in those two months the SPDC staff would be given training to operate the Baglihar power project. That means for now the project would be under NHPC.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day after his speech

Kashmiri leaders say: When Musharraf  smilies embrace him 

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, Mar 8: Day after the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, described Kashmir as the “key dispute” and “sore point” and called for its urgent resolution, leaders in Kashmir welcomed his statements, saying, “India should come out of the denial mode and accept the realities.”  

 “I watched the whole program. He spoke well. One thing I have seen in Musharraf is that he doesn’t beat around the bush, he is not a hypocrite, and his focus during the speech was on Kashmir. Kashmir resolution is must for stability of the region,” Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said. On Friday, while speaking in the India Today Conclave in New Delhi, Musharraf said India and Pakistan should seek to resolve their differences, end the dispute over Kashmir urgently and work toward peace to help uplift the poor in both nations. 
 The nuclear-capable South Asian neighbors, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947, should “disengage and demilitarize,” Musharraf said. The “Berlin Wall” of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir needs to be made irrelevant, he said. “We have to resolve Kashmir without loss of time because it is impacting negatively on both our societies,” Musharraf said. “Kashmir remains the key dispute and the sore point,” he said.  
 Mirwaiz said India should understand the reality and should join Pakistan to address Kashmir dispute. Mirwaiz said Mushraff has always been ardent advocate of Kashmir resolution. “I have recently heard an interview of the National Security Advisor of India M.K Narayanan who stated that Musharaff was better person to deal with. Time has come for India to reciprocate,” Mirwaiz said. 
 Mirwaiz said Musharaff has pointed out the root cause of mistrust repeatedly whether in power or out of it and Indians must act realistically. He said even in the hostile audience, Musharaff pointed out hard realities before India, and India must accept it and it should come out of the denial mode. “When Musharraf speaks, you should listen to him,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir.   
 The Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that Musharraf stated nothing new. “When he was in power he repeatedly asked that Kashmir dispute should be resolved and he has reiterated the same stand,” he said. However, Geelani said it has to be seen whether the Government of India was ready to accept Kashmir as dispute. He said since 1950s hundreds of rounds of dialogue has taken place with India and it has not accepted the reality. Geelani said now there were no gunmen in Kashmir only unarmed people who were being fired open for demonstrating peacefully.
 President Pervez Musharraf yesterday warned that there could be more Kargil like conflicts if the “key dispute” and “sore point” Kashmir remains unresolved for long.

Thus spake Musharraf

Resolve core issue of Kashmir: Musharraf

New Delhi, Mar 8: The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has called for resolution of the key dispute and core issue of Kashmir and end to atrocities against Muslims in India for rooting out terrorism and stressed the need for ‘’burying the past’’ for peace and development in the region.

 In a hard-hitting valedictory address at the ‘India Today Conclave’ here last night, Gen Musharraf said outfits Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba had come into being because of their sympathies for the Kashmiri people who had been waging a non-violent struggle since 1947, which took the form of militancy in 1989.
 ‘’Kashmir remains a key dispute and core point. We had a freedom struggle since 1947. The non-violent movement turned into militancy because of the public sympathy in Pakistan for the people of Kashmir which gave rise to dozens of free-lance Mujahideen groups. Terrorism and extremism are a state of mind. 
 If we have to kill terrorism and extremism, we have to change our state of mind. We need to address terrorism and extremism in long and short term
 perspective. Long term is to see why there is terrorism and extremism. It is a deep issue. Don’t take it lightly,” he said.
 Alienation of minorities in India was also leading to terrorism and this needed to be attended to by the political leadership here. “This needs to be taken cognizance of by political leaders here,” he said.
 To a question on Dawood Ibrahim Musharraf said he did not know where he was. He, however said, that relations between India and Pakistan would not improve even if Dawood was deported to India. “This is a small issue. I do not know if he is there. I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us. Individuals are a small issue. We need to look at strategic issue. I do not think handing over Dawood will change anything. I know it will not help in easing tensions between the two nations, if that happens then you will have to handover Dawood back to Pakistan,’’ he said in reply to a question after his address.
 Responding to a question on Pakistan’s involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he said Pakistan government should treat a terrorist as a terrorist and bring the perpetrators to justice. 
 Calling for ‘’burying the past and the burden of history,’’ he said the situation demanded reducing trust deficit and elimination war hysteria. On Kargil, he said it was a sensitive issue and a link in the chain of Kashmir issue. He declined to elaborate.
 Seeking to demolish the common belief in India that ISI and the Pakistan Army were responsible for all anti-India activities, he said they, in fact, were in favour of peace between the two countries.
 He, however, accused Indian external intelligence agency RAW of being involved in Jalalabad and Kandahar in Afghanistan and said both ISI and RAW should stop acting against each other.
 Exhorting India to make the borders ‘’irrelevant’’ and ‘’tear down the Line of Control’’ Gen Musharraf said ‘’this (the LoC) is another Berlin Wall it needs to be torn down.’’ 
 He called for stopping ‘’Pakistan bashing, Pakistan Army-bashing and ISI bashing’’ in India for peace in the region. Describing terrorism, under-development and hostility against each other as the three main challenges facing the two countries, Gen Musharraf said the situation demanded bold and affirmative steps to ‘’overcome the burden of history,’’ reduction of trust deficit, through genuine Confidence-Building Measures and avoiding hysteria.
 He said he had given a formula during his Presidency for resolving the Kashmir conflict which included making the LoC irrelevant, disengaging and demilitarisation and giving maximum self governance to the people of Kashmir.
 ‘’Resolution of disputes involves give and take. There cannot be only take and take and there is a demand on political leaderships in both countries to take bold steps. If you don’t, it (terrorism) will go on and on.we must not open new fronts,’’ he added.
 Blaming India for slowing down the peace process and ‘’wasting’’ four years, Gen Musharraf said at the Agra Summit, he, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and India’s External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh had almost reached a joint declaration.
 ‘’Unfortunately, some force behind the scenes sabotaged the attempt and we could not reach an agreement. We lost two and a half years after the Agra Summit. We re-started the peace process and back-channel diplomacy there was a purposeful dialogue on Kashmir. But we lost another one and a half years,’’ Gen Musharraf said.
 ‘’Terrorism and extremism have to be defeated. But how? We have to have a realistic and clear understanding of the root causes and critical issues. If you don’t it will carry on and on, there has to be a holistic approach towards eliminating terrorism, consider some ground realities...we need to address them Kashmir remains the key dispute and core point,’’ he said.
 Gen Musharraf also blamed India for whipping up war hysteria following the attack on Indian Parliament, saying ‘’after your troops build-up, we reciprocated...Hysteria was whipped up in India by media and political leadership...On our side, we tried our best to cool tempers.’’ 
 Calling for stopping the ‘’blame game,’’ he said ‘’look at the reality, forget the past and look ahead. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I can tell you I tried my best for peace between India and Pakistan. I was never negative when the opportunity for peace came to me.’’
 The former President said the important thing was confidence building by greater people-to-people affinity. ‘’Once the confidence is there, we should move towards resolving the core issues, and stop meddling with the internal affairs of each other’s country.’’
 Asked for his comments on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he said, ‘’Let’s stop the war hysteria. Just a day into the investigations, the Pakistani army and the ISI was blamed for it.’’ 
 Gen Musharraf said he was for a considered and matured response to these issues and as far as the investigations were concerned, Pakistani government should fully cooperate and the guilty should be punished.
 Asked if there were any terrorist camps in Pakistan, he said both countries had done enough damage to each other.
 ‘’I am aware of what the Indian Embassy is doing in Jalalabad and Kandahar. A terrorist from Kabul has been received by Indian intelligence agencies in India and looked after. I have documents to show this. Let us stop the blame game. India is a big country. You try to do damage to us, we will do damage to you. We should address the trust deficit between the two countries. The ISI does the same thing as the RAW does. There is no distinction.’’
 To a question on Taliban taking over Pakistan, he said areas in North West Frontier Province where the problem is, account for less then one per cent of the population. ‘’There is no danger of Taliban taking over Pakistan politically.’’
 Gen Musharraf stressed the need for looking at strategic issues and addressing the water issue and the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.
 It would develop into a new conflict between the two nations, he warned and said ‘’we have to stick to the Indus Valley treaty’’.
 Gen Musharraf, the architect of Kargil war, declined comment when asked the war began when Mr Vajpayee travelled to Lahore by bus for friendship.
 ‘’I would not like to comment on this issue. I have dealt with this matter in my book,’’ he added.
 Describing the region as a ‘’nuclear flashpoint,’’ he said he stood for peace in South Asia, particularly between India and Pakistan, and said extremists and terrorists should not be allowed to create obstacles.
 Gen Musharraf called upon the political leaderships in both the countries to ‘’grab the fleeting opportunities’’ for peace and warned that such opportunities would not last.

● Alienation of minorities in India was also leading to terrorism
● I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us
● Pak govt should treat a terrorist as a terrorist
● Bury the past and the burden of history
● ISI and RAW should stop acting against each other
● Tear down the Line of Control
● Terrorism, under- development and hostility main challenges 
● Resolution of disputes involves give and take
● Some forces sabotaged Agra summit 
● JeM and LeT came up to sympathies with Kashmiris