Monthly Archives: February 2009

Shivoham..shivoham…(advaith philosophy)

Here is an English translation of one of the most famous Hymns composed by Adi Shankarachariyaji….{in our Janthries(Koshur Calender) you will find this hymn marked “Shivoham Shivoham”}.This is a very profound announcement made by Great Shankarachariya about our Real Nature as well:those who commit this hymn to memory & recite it are really the Blessed ones. Shiva in the hymn has to be understood as Brahman of Vedant doctrine or Param Shiv of Kashmir Shaivism :

Om, I am neither the mind, intelligence, ego, nor ‘chitta,’
Nor the senses of smell and sight, neither ether, nor air,
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am neither the ‘prana,’ nor the five vital breaths,
Neither the seven elements of the body, nor its five sheaths,
Nor hands, nor feet, nor tongue, nor other organs of action.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Neither fear, greed, nor delusion, loathing, nor liking have I,
Nothing of pride, of ego, of ‘dharma’ or Liberation,
Neither desire of the mind, nor objects for its desiring.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Nothing of pleasure and pain, of virtue and vice, do I know,
Of mantra, of sacred place, of Vedas or Sacrifice,
Neither I am the eater, the food or the act of eating.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Death or fear, I have none, nor any distinction of ‘caste,’
Neither father, nor mother, nor even a birth, have I,
Neither friend, nor comrade, neither disciple, nor guru.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I have no form or fancy, the All Pervading am I,
Everywhere I exist, and yet I am beyond the senses,
Neither salvation am I, nor anything to be known.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!
…………..Adi Shankaracharya
source:Mr.pushker n bhat

J&K Migrants!!!!!!!!(RECOMMENDATIONS OF PARLIAMENTARY STANDING SUB-COMMITTEE.)

RECOMMENDATIONS OF PARLIAMENTARY STANDING SUB-COMMITTEE.

1. The Committee is moved by the pitiable condition of the migrants. Over the years the conditions have only worsened as families have grown and there has been no addition to their resources. The unhygienic environment in which migrants live is extremely deplorable. The committee is, therefore, of the strong view that the Government should give a serious thought to the problems of Kashmiri displaced person and improve their living conditions.

2. The Committee also expresses its deep concern over the pathetic condition of about 4000 Kashmiri Pandits living in the Kashmir Valley. The Committee feels that there should be special budgetary provision for Kashmiri Pandits left behind in the valley for fulfilling genuine needs of housing, employment/self employment and improving living conditions.

3. The Committee notes with concern that in the absence of adequate and comprehensive policy for rehabilitation, the Kashmiri displaced persons are reportedly being compelled to live in shanty-like camps set up in places like Udhampur, Nagrota, Jammu and Delhi. The displaced persons had left behind their properties, household goods, business establishments, agricultural land and other means of livelihood and continuing to lead their lives in scarcity and insecurity. Neither the Central Government nor the State Government has adopted a holistic approach to tackle the problems being faced by the displaced persons. The Committee, therefore, recommends that there should be clear directions by Central Government to all the State Governments and Union Territories to provide relief and rehabilitation on a uniform and holistic basis to Kashmiri Displaced Persons living in those States and UTs. The Committee also feels that all State Governments should provide land to them for construction of houses under group housing schemes and for construction of cultural centres. To the extent possible, registration charges and stamp duty should be waived as per a uniform policy throughout India.

4. The Committee is of the view that recommendations of the high powered inter-ministerial team appointed by Prime Minister, regarding medical fund, immediate employment of 1000 persons and construction of two room flats at existing places of dwelling in Jammu based camps should be implemented without further delay.

5. The Committee feels that the Displaced Persons living out side the camps need enhanced relief commensurating with the cost of living index and to countervail the burden of rent payments and therefore, desires that the Government should take appropriate steps in that direction immediately. The Committee also desires that the Government should implement the recommendations of the Sushma Chodhury Committee Report on Kashmiri Displaced Person residing outside the camps for improving their condition of living.

6. The Committee feels that the Displaced Persons should be encouraged to undertake self employment and micro and small scale industries. For this they require loans from the banks. The Committee recommends that the Government should provide the Kashmiri displaced persons the facilities of seeking soft loans from the banks to enable them to take up self-employment projects for earning their livelihood.

7. The Committee understands that the purpose of monthly allowance given to Kashmiri Displaced Persons is to ensure that difficulties and hardships faced by them are minimized and the needy families are provided with a reasonable quantum of sustenance and support. Keeping in view the requirement for a decent living and the expenditure, needed to be incurred, the Committee recommends that the Government should consider increasing the monthly sustenance allowance from Rs. I000 per month per head to a reasonable amount commensurate to the current cost of living.

8. The Committee strongly feels that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Central Government should take the matter of the health care of Kashmiri Pandits with utmost seriousness and sanction them a reasonably enhanced medical allowance so that they do not die of any ailments due to lack of medical attention. It would be appreciated if the Government also make a provision for providing insurance coverage to Kashmir Displaced Persons who are leading a miserable life and many of them suffering from ailments.

9. The Committee is of the view that given the complexity of the situation, confidence-building measures among the displaced persons are necessary which needs utmost attention on the part of the Government.

10. The Committee expresses its serious concern about the criminal intent of vested interests to alter the demography in the State of J & K by not only forcibly ousting the minorities out of the State but also by changing the property rights in the revenue records, so that the migrants are left with no stake to return back to the valley. The Committee strongly feels that appropriate and effective action is required to safeguard the right to properties of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been compelled to flee the state, their homes and hearths for fear of their lives and dignity.

11. The Committee was given to understand that an Apex Committee on Relief under the Chairmanship of the Revenue Minister of the J&K, had assured that within a period of three months, all encroachments would be got vacated and the details of the Kashmiri Pandits’ properties, which had been taken over by the Divisional Commissioner of each District, would be posted on the Internet. However, no action appears to have been taken on this front. The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that the authorities should act forthwith with all seriousness, to remove the encroachments and instill the much needed confidence in the migrants by undertaking suitable action in this regard in a time bound manner.

12. The Committee recommends that all houses of Kashmiri Pandits lying in dilapidated condition should be rebuilt by Government or a liberal grant be offered to owners of the properties to rebuild them.

13. The Committee is also of the opinion that he Government should explore the possibility of declaring all the properties, movable and immovable, sold by the displaced persons after 1989-90, as “Distress Sales” and declare the sales as null and void and accordingly restore possession of the properties back to the respective Kashmiri Pandits who were the recorded owners through the custodian of properties duly constituted.

14. The Committee strongly feels that there should be a blanket ban on the acquisition of the properties of Kashmiri Pandits by the State Government. The Jammu & Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint on Distressed Sales) Act, 1997 should be implemented in letter and spirit.

15. The Committee is of the considered view that the word ‘migrant’ used in the context of the Kashmiri Displaced Persons is not an appropriate expression because the affected persons had been forced to give up their homes and hearths against their own will due to the mayhem caused by the militants. The Committee is also of the view that those persons cannot wait endlessly for normalcy to return to the valley and there is no harm if some such people refer to settle outside the valley for the sake of their lives and livelihood. The Committee therefore desires that the Government should consider this aspect and announce suitable and appropriate policy measures.

16. With the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, they not only lost their homes but also means of livelihood which aggravated their agonies and miseries. The Committee, therefore, recommends the Ministry of Home Affairs to explore all avenues for providing employment to them under the package announced by Prime Minister in 2004 with a time -bound programme.

17. The Committee was given to understand hat the direction of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir to provide relief to the Jammu Migrants at par with the Kashmiri Migrants has not been implemented either by the Central or State Governments. The Committee also notes the order dated July 12, 2006 of the Supreme Court that the Relief Commissioner may ensure whether Jammu Migrants were provided with all relief measures to which hey were entitled as per the policy and any arrears to be paid to the migrants should be made available to them at the earliest. The Committee expresses its anguish that no step have been taken to provide relief to the Jammu Migrants. The Committee recommends that immediate steps may be taken to implement the directions of the Supreme Court.

18. The services of Kashmiri Displaced Persons who have been appointed as Teachers on ad hoc basis in MCD and Government of NCT of Delhi Schools, should be regularized. The Committee was given to understand that there are cases where Kashmiri teachers have been working on contract for the last thirteen years. The Committee is of the view that all such cases should also be regularized as soon as possible.

19. The Committee recommends to the Government to examine the demand made by the Kashmiri Displaced Persons for providing constitutionally guaranteed schemes for their social, political and economic upliftment and come out with appropriate measures.

20. The Committee takes a serious note of the fact that the actual expenditure on account of implementation of rehabilitation programmes for J&K displaced persons during 2006-07 was only Rs 69.31 crore as against the allocation of Rs. 120 crore and against Rs. 120 crore kept for 2007-08 in BE, only Rs. 100 crore was provided at RE 2007-08. The Committee once again took serious note that as enough claims were not received from the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, only Rs. 110.00 crore was kept in the BE 2008-09. The Committee in its successive Reports, i.e. 119th, 126th and 130th Reports, urged upon the Ministry to impress upon the J&K Government about the necessity of sending schemes expeditiously and implement them in time so that all the J&K Displaced Persons are rehabilitated without further delay. Inspite of those recommendations, it is unfortunate that the Government of J & K has not taken requisite action.

At the same time, the role and responsibility of the Ministry of Horne Affairs do not end by merely requesting and advising the State Government. It has to play a proactive role in the matter and vigorously pursue with the Government of J&K at the highest level so as to convince the latter the need for formulating rehabilitation schemes and sending them on time to the Central Government for further action.

Kashmiri Pandits fear dream may turn sour

Seema Sharma
Tribune News Service
Jammu, February 17
Expectation is running high among around 10,000 migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who filled in consent forms to return to their homeland in the Kashmir valley in April last year under the Prime Minister’s package for their return and rehabilitation, amid fear whether conditions are conducive.

The three families, which returned to the valley and tried to live in their homes there, had to return humiliated by people and authorities.

Yogesh Kandhari, who took voluntary retirement from Deccan Aviation to settle down in his home in the Habba Kadal area of Srinagar a year ago, returned to Jammu unhappy and dejected within a year.

His dreams got shattered when he found a part of his house and a shop encroached.

Kandhari says, “Last year, I went back to Habba Kadal with my family in a hope to spend the remaining part of my life at my birth place. But I was shocked to see a large part of my house encroached upon by my neighbour. Somebody also broke open one of my three shops and occupied it. It took me one year running from one office to another to retrieve the rights of my properties. I was able to get my house vacated, but my shop was handed over to the intruder. Aghast over the sickening attitude of people there, I returned to Jammu to find peace of mind.”

Pushkar Razdan, a retired teacher at Pulwama, has not been even that lucky. He saw his house taken over by the state police and farms invaded by local people.

He lamented, “Expensive walnut trees in my orchards were felled and stolen by some people. A 32 feet road was drawn across my fields without my permission. My house was taken over by the state police, which created a police post there after the infamous Vandhama mass killing case. The police even refused to pay me rent. Now, the matter has got stuck with the Home Ministry. Ultimately, I had to leave my home in the valley.”

Equally distraught is Triloki Nath Bhatt, a resident of Monghama, who is physically challenged with a twisted arm by birth, to see that his own people have become estranged to him.

“When I went back this year to reconstruct my ruined home in Monghama to make it worth living, I was restrained by people and the local administration. I was aghast to know that I can’t carry out construction at my place. This shows people who keep an eye on profitable properties never want us to return.” He too returned empty-handed and disheartened.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090218/j&k.htm#3

The new proselytizers

10 Feb 2009, 1921 hrs IST, Tarun Vijay

Nandita Das created a stir by scripting and directing “Firaaq”. It’s a soul-stirring movie. Nandita, the director and scriptwriter, has tried to be as honest and candid with the celluloid as her deep-rooted commitment to her political ideology. Terrifyingly impressive is the way she uses silence as a tool to etch her message on the viewers’ minds. The actors live the characters they represent. And she admits frankly, “It’s a political movie.”

As a filmmaker and journalist, I would give her full marks for a political statement that has been registered so strongly that this film is going to have better effect than a hundred thousand people’s gathering.

Surely, more than a movie it’s a political statement. She is a person with strong colours of ideology and she has done what she thought she must do. “Firaaq” will certainly get rave reviews in the Indian media. She has already received some international awards, and like “Slumdog Millionaire”, the film has passed the test through “firang” eyes and hence must be all the more acceptable to the “progressive secular, peace loving” people here who have a large, global heart and express their feelings in English.

Apart from its technical qualities of cinematography, editing, direction and script it almost convinced me that barbarism begins with Hindus.

There would be a couple of critical articles or comments, if any, criticizing the movie on ideological points or for the depiction of the events, which may be found completely wrong and devastatingly hateful. These critics may forget that this is a political movie that would sell because the West needs a Jamal or a Mohsin to be rewarded to help it cover the feelings that emerged after 9/11. Having heard Nandita on the movie and seen the clips, I too would have converted to her views if the Godhra incident was not vividly clear in my mind.

I would have turned to take Nandita’s autographs with a sense of admiration if I had not heard the cries of Seema, whose father, mother and brother were slaughtered with a butcher’s knife in Doda, before her eyes, when she was barely seven, in the name of a jihad my secular friends interpret differently. I tried to ask a question: who were those Hindus killed and brutalized during the Gujarat riots? It’s impossible for me to keep mum or justify what happened after Godhra, which saw innocent Muslims being killed so ghastly that no words are enough to express the hurt. The colour of the tears of a mother, whether Hindu or Muslim, is alike. But dividing dead bodies and deciding levels of mourning on the basis of their faith should be as unacceptable as the killings of innocent citizens. Killing truth and colouring facts must also be called a pogrom of civility.

In fact, the secular messengers of the new gospel of hate have turned into aggressive proselytizers setting their worldview as a prerequisite to enter any socio-political or literary regime. They have successfully monopolized the world of various media establishing English as the only vehicle of intellectual discourse and thus keeping the doors to the higher echelons of elite and decision makers shut to those who belong to the Indian-language groups and represent the real ethos of the land. Although to make profits, these very secular groups would sell bhajans and show religious serials while attacking the very spirit of and the protective shields to such traditions in the very next programme. They can’t imagine winning votes with speeches in English or going to the common voter with a wine glass or a beer bottle in their hands. Yet, in their social circuit, they would raise the flag of “pub culture” and look with contempt at a person speaking an Indian language.

Just have a look at the loan forms of the banks. The last paragraph says “those blind, illiterate or signing in a vernacular language must get their signatures attested by someone who knows English”. Can this kind of instruction be tolerated in the UK or the US for their national languages? Even the use of the word “vernacular” for the national languages is a derogatory, colonial hangover. But who cares? They look at Indians as slumdogs, are alien to the threads that weave a fabric called India and treat the “natives” like Kipling’s Ramu. So when a western royal or head of state comes, he is made to cuddle a slum child with a running nose or taken to an orphanage for a photo op to show western compassion for the unprivileged. An Indian Prime Minister is never asked to give alms to the homeless sleeping on the stairs of St James in London or offer grants to an NGO in New York working for the victims of child abuse or teen mothers. Compassion must remain a virtue of the rich and powerful.

It is this English-speaking elite that determines what India must be reading or thinking or how Hindus must be behaving. They read about Hindus through Oxford or Cambridge publishers and show the temerity to sermonize those Hindus who have imbibed their dharma in their genes and lived every bit of it, making Kumbh melas possible and taking dips in the Ganga on the chilling mornings of Kartik and Magh. The secular proselytizer visits Kumbh, not as a devotee but as a photographer to take pictures of bathing Hindu women and sadhus using mobile phones, as if being sadhus they ought to live as cavemen. The pictures they wire to press agencies essentially depict the weird, intoxicated, obscene and the unacceptable face of uncivilized Hindus to the west.

They don’t know a bit about our faith, or what Magh, Amavasya or Saptami means. They take Sanskrit degrees in English and tell us, what’s the use of such knowledge in today’s world? To be futuristic means denouncing all that you have preserved since ages. That’s an alienated crowd of people with an accent, detached from the Indian reality.

They tell us, you bad guys, you demolished our Babri. Yet, not a single political party can dare to promise in its election manifesto that if it is voted to power, it would rebuild Babri over the present makeshift temple of Ram in Ayodhya. Their influence on the Indian masses is hardly worth noticing, yet their control on the media and political power centres makes them important. Their intellectual terror is so overpowering that today most of the national parties in India execute their proceedings in English. Poor and often unauthorized translations are dished out in Hindi and other Indian languages. The language, idiom and attitude of this “secular” English-speaking elite, controlling the media, advertising and governance remain alien to the indigenous fragrances which they dismiss as folk or ethnic contours, only to be enjoyed in a Suraj Kund mela.

The secular code is: abuse and misrepresent the facts about the opponents, use a pub incident in Mangalore more importantly than the anguish and pains of the soldiers demonstrating at Jantar Mantar, turn every news desk and edit control station into Godhra, throttling the other view point.

One isolated incident of the Hindu right would become a globally circulated representative of the Hindu intolerance and terrorism. None of us accepted the way Mangalore happened. Who cares whether Valentine’s day is celebrated or not. If someone says to me “Happy Valentine’s Day”, I will just smile and say “same to you”. That’s it. Those who find it a nice way to feel joy must be free to do so. But why I must say “yes, Valentine’s Day is the biggest symbol of love, amity and happiness” and feel elated seeing obscenities on the streets to prove I am an educated modern person?

To each one, his own. I must be ready to accept every happy occasion of any colour or faith or stream to smile and send compliments, but should it become mandatory as a fatwa?

But my questions to those who use incidents like Gujarat riots for awards and rubbing salt on Hindu wounds was: why forget Godhra and Doda and Anantnag and Kishtwar? In the case of Kashmiri Hindus, the “seculars” won’t like to earn displeasure of the jihadis.

I think it’s self-defeating to crib about such situations. If you feel injustice has been done, prepare to counter the wrongs through legitimate instruments.

Nandita did what she felt was right and did it quite courageously without bothering what the other side would feel. What did you do to present Doda or Godhra to the world? Who stopped any other Indian to make a movie on the pains and sorrows of Seema or to document the desecration of temples in Kashmir and record the woes of Hindus who had to pass through weird massacres like the one we saw at Wandhama?

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Columnists/Tarun-Vijay-The-new-proselytizers/articleshow/4107647.cms

Kashmiri Pandits and saraswat Brahims

by P.N.K. Bamzai
Koshur Samachar

The Valley of Kashmir is known among the Kashmiri Pandits or Saraswat Brahmins of Kashmir as Saradapeeth or the Abode of the Goddess of Learning and Fine Arts. During their five thousand years of history, they have made colossal contribution to world civilization in the field of Religion, Philosophy, Sanskrit literature, medicine, history, aesthetics, etc. As models of non-violence, they have never handled lethal weapons or spoken harsh words. Devoted to the study of Vedas and other Sastras in all their aspects, the essence of these studies has been coursing in their blood-stream from generation to generation. In peaceful or turbulent times they were protected under their spiritual umbrella by a large number of highly advanced saints and sages who flourished in the Valley from time to time.

No wonder they preferred death to change in their religion and withstood stoically the ruthless masters for five hundred years of Muslim rule. And when pushed back to the wall, they migrated to places of safety in the hot plains of India.

This process has been repeated in 1990 but on a vaster scale. Threatened with annihilation by Islamic Fundamentalists and gun-toting terrorists, the hapless Brahmins migrated en masse to Jammu and other places in the hot plains of the rest of India, leaving behind their hearths and homes, movable and immovable properties, their jobs and business, even the education of their children. The treatment they received from the State and Central Governments is perhaps the most bitter instance of this nature in the world. As refugees in their own country, their governments treated them with disdain. Instead of giving them comfort and solace, their attitude towards them was callous and inhuman.

How and wherefrom did the Kashmiri Pandits or Vedic Aryans enter and settle in the Valley is an interesting episode in the early movement of people from place to place.

The main theory about the Aryan settlement in Kashmir as advanced by Dr. Grierson was that they formed a part of the stream of Indo-Aryans from Central Asia, but did not share the migration to India via the Kabul River Valley to settle in the Punjab. They broke away from the mainstream while crossing the Hindukush and entering the Valley via Dardistan settled there.

But after deep research for the last 15 years the writer has come to the conclusion that Dr. Grierson’s Theory was erroneous. Actually they came to the Valley from the Punjab centuries after the first settlement of Aryans there.

Briefly speaking, the earliest stream of Aryans who entered India, found the banks of the River Saraswati in the Punjab fertile and conducive to easy cultivation, and settled there.

Described in the Rig Veda as “the mother of rivers”, scholars have debated for centuries whether Saraswati is a myth or has been a reality at some distant point of time.

Fortunately a team of archaeologists, geologists, geographers and historians led by the famous archeologist Dr. V.S. Wakankar, began their quest of the river in 1985. Armed with high-tech facilities like landsat and multi-spectoral scanner (MSS), the team began the quest from the believed source of the river at Adi Badri in the Shivalik Hills in Ambala They sieved through the whole area notably 150 prominent sites along the route in the Thar Desert ending at Somnath in Gujarat.

At the end of it all they had solid evidence to prove the existence of a highly developed culture on the banks of a mighty river which they say was Saraswati.

Apart from this evidence, the existence of a mighty river, matching the Vedic description of Saraswati, has been scientifically proved. The multi-spectoral scanner (MSS), a widely used and relied upon equipment in archaeology, indicates various channels of the river in the region.

According to MSS observations of various channels, Sutluj was the main tributary of Ghaggar (the present name for Saraswati, now in Pakistan). But tectonic movements forced Sutluj to flow in different direction (at right angle to its original channel), thus leaving Ghaggar dry.

A study of the landsat imagery of Ghaggar (Saraswati) reveals that the river had a constant width of six to eight kilometres from Shatrana in the Punjab to Marot in Pakistan.

The waters of the river spread prosperity all around and the settlers passed centuries there in peace, building well-planned towns and cities to live in. The Aryan society was by and by stratified into classes according to the kind of their work and profession or varna. But as ill-luck would have it, the life-giving river changed its course several times and ultimately dried up. Known as Saraswat Brahmins, Kshatryas and Vaisas, they left the Punjab in search of equally good if not better land in the rest of the sub-continent. An enterprising batch went back to the mountains in the north to reside in the Kashmir Valley of whose beauty and salubrious climate they had heard from their forefathers who used to go there during summer. They sought the protection of Nila, the Lord of the Nagas and begged his permission to settle in the Valley permanently as his subjects.

Nila listened to their tale of woe sympathetically, but promised the requested permission on condition that they conformed to the social usages and customs of the Nagas. The Saraswats agreed to these conditions when the Naga chief permitted them to reside permanently in the Valley.

Aryan Entry Into The Valley

At what point of time this important immigration into the Valley of Saraswat Aryans (comprising Brahmans, Kshatryas, Vaisas and Sudras) took place is not possible to say. However, the beginning of the Saptarishi or Laukika Era seems to be the time when the Sarswat Aryans entered into and settled in the Valley, after getting permission from Nila, the lord of the Naga tribe who were already settled there. The beginning of this era nearly coincides with Mahabharata war. The date of the coronation of King Yudhishtra is given as Kaliyug Samvat 653. Kalhana too begins the Rajatarangini from this time as is evident from the description of the installation by Lord Krishna of Queen Yasomati on the throne of Kashmir as the guardian of her son King Gonanda II.

The Saptarishi or Laukika era is still in current use among the Brahmin population of Kashmir. Buhler was the first to prove from the extant tradition of Kashmiri Brahmins and other evidence that the commencement of the Laukika Era is placed on Caitra Sudi 1, of Kali Samvat 25 (expired) or the year 3076-75 B.C. Since his discovery correct accounts of the Laukika reckoning are to be found in all handbooks of Indian chronology.

That the Kashmiri Brahmins have held on to and followed this calendar tenaciously for the last 5066 years is a strong point in favour of assuming their entry in the Kashmir Valley round about the beginning of this era.

The various exigencies of time and division of labour gradually differentiated the priestly Brahmins from other castes. And when the Saraswat Aryans entered the Valley, the Brahmins were in a dominating position and laid down rules and regulations for the other castes to follow in accordance with the agreement with Nagas. From that time begins the emergence of the Kashmiri Pandits or the Saraswat Brahmins of Kashmir as a distinct community in the all-embracing comity of people called Hindus.

Profoundly learned, it was only the Kashmiri Pandits who were capable of expounding the Vedas, the Vedanganas, the Itihasas, the Puranas and the Mimamsa. They were well-versed in various orthodox and heterodox philosophic systems. Jurists, astrologers, mathematicians, poets and philosophers were from this community. Even the less educated among them did fairly well, for they could act as Kathavacaks or reciters of sacred stories and performers of various domestic rites. Sanskrit was their mother tongue and both men and women spoke it fluently.

Society took good care of the Brahmins, for they received land gifts and money. There is mention of many grants or agraharas in literature and epigraphs. Villages were transferred to the Brahmins with pastures for cows, with lands, water and trees, fruit bearing or otherwise.

A class that helped in the preservation of Dharma and contributed much to cultural progress, naturally enjoyed some privileges in a society dominated by it. Smritis and the Puranas speak of the Brahmins as being exempt from taxation and capital punishment. The ancient Dharmasastras lay down that a Brahmin should not be given any corporal punishment. Many other Smritis speak of exile as the maximum punishment for a Brahmin.

Education

The Saraswat Brahmins of Kashmir were models of simplicity, purity, truthfulness, ascetic tendency and compassion. All these traits of the highest human culture were built-up by Rishis and Maharishis who, in their secluded Ashrams performed austere penances and at the same time taught a large number of students who stayed in the Ashrams and led a life befitting Brahmin Brahmacharin. Thus the Guru-Shishya Parampara was established. The children of a house-holder lived with Acharyas (teachers) in the latter’s home. There they used to serve their teacher by gathering fuel for homa and offered morning and evening prayers. The recitation of the Vedic hymns with their proper accents, preceded by the syllable OM took place at day-break. Early morning was the time set apart for studies.

Consequently, Upanayan Sanskara, which literally means taking the child to the Guru, was the most important in one’s life. The Brahman, the Khatriya and Vaisa boys were initiated when they were 8, 11 and 12 years respectively. This initiation of a boy into the three R’s took place on an auspicious day in a festive atmosphere. Gods were propitiated, feasts arranged and presents offered to the teacher before entrusting the student to his care. A very disciplined life was laid down by the medieval digests for students receiving Brahmanical education. By the time the boy attained the age of sixteen years, he was expected to be the master of all sciences and arts.

The educational course naturally differed according to the needs of the student. A Brahmin learnt the four Vedas, the six Angas, the various scripts, Mimamsa, Smritis, Puranas, Karmakanda, Jyotish, Ganita, Music, Sciences, etc.

The education of a student did not end here. They took inspiration from the Rishis and Paramrishis who in their ashrams and seats of learning propagated gems of philosophy, art, literature and history. Apart from imparting education to hundreds of Kashmiri students, they instructed numerous scholars from distant lands, who braving long and arduous journey came to Kashmir to drink deep from the well of knowledge at the feet of the masters. No wonder that from remote ages Kashmir became the seat of learning, and earned for itself the appropriate name of Saradapeeth or the seat of Sarada, the Goddess of Learning and Fine Arts.

Apart from performing rites and rituals as prescribed by the Sastras, the Brahmin householder worshipped the Hindu Triad, namely Siva, Vishnu and Brahma and their Consorts – Parvati or Uma who has a variety of other names such as Kali, Durga, Mahadevi (the Consort of Siva); Sri or Lakshmi (the Consort of Vishnu) and Vagheswari or Saraswati (the Consort of Brahma)

In later times a special sect who were devotees and worshippers of Sakti – the manifestation of power and energy of Siva – came into prominence and were known as Saktas. Their rites and rituals and the mode of their performance differed basically from the mainstream of the Kashmiri Pandits.

The snow-capped mountain peaks around the Valley evoked the image of Siva with Ganga coming out of His locks and gushing down in streams to the plains below, spreading life all around. Hence, Kashmir has, from time immemorial, been known as the Land of Siva (Sivapuri). The worship of Siva and the study of Saivism is, therefore, a predominant theme in the religious and philosophic practices of the Kashmiri Brahmins. Though the Trikka philosophy popularly known as Kashmir Saivism took shape in the 8th Century A.D., Sivasana or Sivagama, that is Saivism as such, is far older than this date. Indeed we can trace its beginning in the Vedic Revelations.

The origin of the earliest works on Saivism in Kashmir is lost in antiquity. It is said that originally there were sixty-four systems of philosophy covering every aspect of thought and life, but they all gradually disappeared and the world was plunged into spiritual darkness. Then Siva, goes the legend, moved by pity for the ignorance and sufferings of mankind, appeared on the Kailasa mountain in the form of Srikantha. He commanded the sage Durvasa to spread true knowledge among men. Durvasa created three sons by the power of his mind and to one of these, Tryambaka, he imparted the knowledge of monistic philosophy.

So Brahmanism diluted with the animistic faith of the indigenous Nagas and influenced by the Saivite faith, formed the religion of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley from their settlement there till the appearance of Emperor Asoka in the middle of 300 B .C. along with a contingent of 5000 Bikshus whom he settled in the Valley to study and propagate Buddhism.

Kashmir Day: Hit and run

Shakir Husain
Kashmir Day is today, and people all over Pakistan are trying to figure out what to do with their Thursday. Nobody quite knows what they’re supposed to do on Kashmir Day other than sleep late, eat halwa puri, and maybe watch a few Indian movies. For the more involved, Kashmir Day provides a day for people like Qazi Hussain Ahmed to lead marches supporting the Kashmiris – Qazi Sahib is probably not too fond of halwa puri or Bollywood; and at his age sleeping in is probably not an option either. Most people that I have talked to find it absurd that Qazi Sahib and his friends never find the time to protest when militants decapitate fellow Muslims in Swat (and elsewhere in Pakistan) and blow up girls’ schools in the Northern Areas.
Most Pakistani citizens have more than enough problems on their plate to really care about Kashmir. I mean this in the most non-offensive way possible. But let’s be honest and look around us for a moment – our country is a mess. Politically, we have had to watch insecure pygmies with fragile egos duke it out without really caring about the people who voted for them. And for good measure our political leadership’s ability to sympathize with the “masses” is manifested by them acquiring luxury vehicles, VIP perks for themselves and their families, and the pursuit of VIP aircraft which can ferry them across our pure land. The greed and avarice that’s on display would put even the most brazen Citibankers to shame – I’ll exclude Shaukat the First from that list though.
Next up is our crumbling infrastructure about which the less said is better. Despite having mysteriously acquired nuclear weapons, Pakistani companies (both state and private) are unable to build a road which can withstand a rain or two. And then there is the power “situation”. There’s an acute shortage of power in a country which has no business having a power shortage given our geography in terms of natural water reservoirs. While far poorer countries than ours have resolved to reduce their dependence on oil as a primary source of energy for power, our bureaucrats and politicians remain clueless. For the past 9 years I have been hearing about CNG buses for Karachi as Delhi has done to reduce carbon emissions, yet nobody quite knows where these buses went to. We’ve been hearing about mass transport facilities for the citizens of our urban centers which have failed to materialize for all the wrong reasons – money. Yet there’s enough money to buy luxury vehicles for everyone and their grandmothers.
Law and order in Pakistan would be a good idea but the less said about it the better. Our crime fighting capability is still stuck in the 18th century and I was amused to read a statement by a police official in Karachi that the fingerprint unit was going to be “reactivated”. Yes, good idea officer especially since the technology is a couple of centuries old now. While senior officials wouldn’t be caught dead (no pun intended) in anything but the latest four-wheel drive, the average cop is untrained, outgunned, unfit, dangerously unmotivated and also understaffed with some of the lowest police/population ratios in the world. The few good officers that are left in the police force and other law enforcement agencies are transferred around on the whims of politicians and bureaucrats sitting on their high perches. So it’s not exactly a surprise as to why there has been a complete breakdown of law and order.
Most Pakistanis are under the misinformed impression that the Kashmiris under Indian rule want to join Pakistan. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hate to break this to you but the Kashmiris are way smarter than that. They have no desire to join Pakistan given the state of our nation; rather in the best case they seek independence as has been clearly stated by their leaders. They are even willing to settle for quasi-independence if push came to shove. But to join Pakistan is definitely not an option given what a royal mess we’ve made of our own four provinces. Indian occupation has been harsh as all occupations are, but before we go out to liberate Kashmir, Palestine, and every other Muslim land in the world let us first look within and sort the matters out in our house before we embark on these ambitious journeys. And let us stop the madness and stop declaring holidays – there are far better ways to express solidarity with a people than eating halwa puri and watching mindless television.
*(The writer is a Pakistani entrepreneur and business consultant).
-(Courtesy: The News)

Muslims of tibet

Muslims of Tibet

By Masood Butt
Tibetan Bulletin
January – February 1994
Tibet had pockets of Muslims entrenched within its borders although there is no documentary evidence on how Muslims first came to settle there. In fact, information on Tibetan Muslims in general itself is scarce. But the existence of Tibet appears to be known to the Muslim world from the earliest period of recorded history. Arab historians like Yaqut Hamawi, Ibn Khaldun and Tabari mention Tibet in their writings. In fact, Yaqut Hamawihas, in his book Muajumal Buldan (encyclopaedia of countries), refers to Tibet in three different ways Tabbat, Tibet and Tubbet.

During the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (717-720) of the Persian Empire, it is believed that a delegation from Tibet and China requested him to send Islamic missionaries to their countries. Caliph Umar is said to have sent Salah bin Abdullah Hanafi to Tibet. The Abbasid rulers of Baghdad also maintained re1ations with Tibet in the eighth and the ninth centuries.

Kashmir and Eastern Turkestan were the nearest Islamic regions bordering Tibet. It is said that Muslim migrants from Kashmir and Ladakh areas first entered Tibet around 12th century. Gradually, marriages and social interaction led to an increase in the population until a sizable community came up around Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. There was no large-scale conversion to Islam though. Thomas Arnold, in his book, The Preaching of Islam, published in the early part of this century says, “Islam has also been carried into Tibet proper by Kashmiri merchants. Settlements of such merchants are to be found in all the chief cities of Tibet: they marry Tibetan women, who often adopt the religion of their husbands…”

Tibetan Muslims trace their origin from immigrants from four main regions: China, Kashmir, Ladakh and Nepal. Islamic influence in Tibet also came from Persia and Turkestan.

Muslims are known as Khache among Tibetans. This appear to be because the earliest Muslim settlers to Tibet were from Kashmir which was known as Khache Yul to Tibetans.

The arrival of Muslims was followed by the construction of mosques in different parts of Tibet. There were four mosques in Lhasa, two in Shigatse and one in Tsethang. In recent years, one mosque in Lhasa has been renovated, with Tibetan Muslims from India sending religious inscriptions to it for use. Tibetan Muslims were mainly concentrated around the mosques that they constructed. These mosques were maintained well and were the centres of Muslim social life in Tibet.

Tibetan Muslims led a reasonably free life in a Buddhist environment. In fact, during the time of the fifth Dalai Lama, Tibetan Muslims received the following special privileges:

i) They were permitted to settle their affairs independently, according to the Shariat Laws. The government permitted the Muslim community to elect a five-man committee, known as ‘Ponj’ who looked after their interest. From among the Ponj, a leader – known as Mia to Muslims and Kbache Gopa – (Muslim headman) among non-Muslims – was elected. ii) Tibetan Muslims were free to set up commercial enterprises and were exempted from taxation. iii) Tibetan Muslims were also exempted from implementing the ‘no meat rule’ when such a restriction was imposed in Tibet every year during a holy Buddhist month. Muslims were also exempted from removing their caps to Buddhist priests during a period in a year when the priests held sway over the town. Muslims were also granted the Mina Dronbo (invitation to different communities) status to commemorate the assumption of spiritual and temporal authority by the fifth Dalai Lama.

In addition, Muslims had their own burial place. There were two cemeteries around Lhasa: one at Gyanda Linka about 12 km from Lhasa town and the other at Kygasha about 15 km away. A portion of Gyanda Linka was turned into a garden and this became the place where the Muslim community organised their major functions. Gyanda Linka is said to contain unmarked graves believed to be those of foreigners who came to preach Islam to Tibet. Kygasha was mainly used by Muslims of Chinese origin.

The above privileges were contained in a written document provided to the Tibetan Muslim community by the Tibetan government. These privileges were enjoyed until Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959.

Tibetan Muslims confined themselves mainly to trade and commerce. Hardly any of them indulged in fanning. As the community grew, Madrasas (primary schools) were set up in which children were taught about Islam, the Koran and the method of offering namaz (prayers). Urdu language was also part of the curriculum. There were two such Madrasas in Lhasa and one in Shigatse.

After finishing their stuthes in these Madrasas, students were sent to India to join Islamic institutes of higher learning such as Darul-U1oom in Deoband, Nadwatul-U1ema in Lucknow and Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. The annual report of Darul-U1oom for the year 1875 mention the presence of two foreign students there: a Burmese and a Tibetan. Jamia Millia Islamia received its first batch of Tibetan students in 1945.

In those days, transportation within Tibet was a problem. Students were sent along with Muslim merchants making their annuals trip to India. This took months as they had walk or ride on yaks for most of the way. Therefore, once the students got admitted to institution in India, they usually did not return to Tibet until the completion of a stage of their education.

Quite a few Tibetan Muslims have successfully completed their stuthes in India, with many being well versed in Arabic, Urdu and Persian. The most famous among them could be Faidhullah who undertook the ambitious task of translating into Tibetan Gulestan and Boastan, Persian poetry of Sheik Sadi. Faidhullah’s is well known among Tibetans for his popular book aphorism Khache Phalu (few words of advices from a Muslim). Even today, Tibetans continue to quote from his book, (an English translation of Khache Phaluh as been done by Dr. Dawa Norbu and published by the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives).

Tibetan Muslims were able to preserve their community’s identity while at the same time absorbing their traditional Tibetan social and cultural traditions. They elected a Ponj committee to look after their affairs. The Tibetan government approved the formation of this committee and gave it a free hand to undertake its activities and to decide on matters concerning the Tibetan Muslim community. Tibetan Muslims have also made significant contribution to Tibetan culture, particularly in the field of music. Nangma, a popular c1assica1 music of Tibet, is said to have been brought to Tibet by Tibetan Muslims. In fact, the very term Nangma is believed to be a corruption of the Urdu word Naghma meaning song. These high-pitched tilting songs, developed in Tibet around the turn of the Century, were a craze in Lhasa with musical hits by Acha Izzat, Bhai Akbar-la and Oulam Mehdi on the lips of almost everyone.

After the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959 His Holiness the Dalai Lama went into-exile in India followed by a significant number of Tibetans. However, a majority of Tibetan Muslims, particularly those residing in Lhasa, could go out of Tibet only a year later. In between they had to suffer extortion, terrorism and cruelty under the hands of Chinese occupation forces, like their fellow Tibetans. During this critical period, Tibetan Muslims organised themselves. They approached the Indian mission in Lhasa to claim for Indian citizenship, referring to their Kashmiri ancestry, to escape Chinese tyranny. Mr. P.N.Kaul was the head of the Indian mission then. At that time, the head of the Ponj of Tibetan Muslims was Haji Habibullah Shamo. He was, however , under Chinese detention along with other leaders like Bhai Addul Gani-la;.Rapse Hamidullah, Abdua1 Ahad Hajj, Abdul Qadir Jami and HajiAbdul Gani Thapsha under various charges. While Bhai Abdu1 Gani-la was charged with the putting up of anti-Chinese posters, Rapse Hamidullah was arrested on account of his connection with a senior Tibetan official. The initial response of the Indian Government was lukewarm. It said only those whose Permanent domicile remained in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and who visited India from time to time, whose parents or one of whose grandparents were born in undivided India, are potential citizens of India”, and it would , only accept them. But some time later, in later 1959, the Indian Government suddenly came out with the statement that all Tibetan Muslims were Indian nationals, and started distributing application forms for Indian nationality among them.

Chinese illtreatment of Tibetan Muslims continued Chinese authorities duped Tibetan Muslims into selling their property to them in return for the freedom to emigrate to any Muslim country. Seeing this as a possible way of saving their religion and culture, many Tibetan Muslims willingly parted with their property. But having acquired these property, 1ibetan Muslims were not allowed to emigrate. Instead, restrictions were imposed, and a social boycott declared. Nobody was allowed to sell food to Tibetan Muslims. Many old and weak Tibetan Muslims as well as children thed of starvation.

Those Tibetan Muslims who were able to cross over into India in the border towns of Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Gangtok in late 1959 gradually moved to Kashmir , their ancestral homeland from 1961 to 1964. They were accommodated in three huge buildings in Idd-Gah in Srlnagar by the Indian Government. At that time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama had sent his Representative to inquire about the conditions of Tibetan Muslims.

During the first two decades of their life in exile, Tibetan Muslims attempted to rebuild and re-organise themselves. Lack of proper guidance and leadership proved to be an obstacle in their development. Also, housing in Idd Gah was inadequate to meet the requirements of a growing family. In the process, Tibetan Muslims began to scatter, emigrating to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Nepal as well as moving to other parts of India in search of better opportunity .

His Holiness the Dalai Lama continued to keep in touch with the situation of Tibetan Muslims. Knowing their problems, His Holiness, during his visit to Srinagar in 1975, took up the matter with the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir. He also encouraged the formation of the Tibetan Muslim Refugee Welfare Association. This Association began to chalk out projects for the economic and educational upliftment of Tibetan Muslims. With an initial financial assistance by His Holiness, coupled with assistance received, later from Tibet Fund, New York, a handicraft centre, a co-operative shop and a school were established. A group of young Tibetan Muslims were given training in Carpet making in Dharamsala.

The Association was able to get some land for resettlement. Saudi Arabia provided funds for the construction of 144 houses and a mosque in the new settlement. Construction was completed in 1985 and the houses distributed among the people. Not all people could be accommodated and some continued to reside in the old settlement.

A primary school had been started in 1975 in a rented building to provide modern as well as traditional education to Tibetan Muslim children. Although the school was shifted to a comparatively better place in the new settlement, it still faces problems: it is run on donations and does not have a separate compound. However, some students are being sent to Central Schools for Tibetans elsewhere in India. To date, 22 Tibetan Muslim children have been admitted to Central School for Tibetans in Shimla and Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh state.

The Association has eight office bearers who look after the affairs of the community . There is a Tibetan Muslim Youth Association which plays an important role in social upliftment of the community . This youth association is in contact with the Tibetan Youth Congress. The Department of Health in Dharamsala has set up a primary health care centre to look after the medical needs of the settlers.

Nothing much is known of the present condition of Tibetan Muslims inside Tibet. According to one report there are around 3000 Tibetan Muslims and around 20,000 Chinese Muslims. Since the opening up of Tibet, some Tibetan Mus1ims outside Tibet have been able to visit the country while quite a few have also come out.

The total population of Tibetan Muslims outside Tibet is around 2000. Of them, 20 to 25 families live in Nepal, 20 in the Gulf countries and Turkey. Fifty families reside in Darjeeling-Kalimpong areas bordering Tibet in eastern India. Tibetan Muslims in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Nepal have a joint Tibetan Muslim Welfare Association based in Kalimpong. Its present general secretary is Mr. Amanulla Chisti. During His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Darjeeling in April l993. Tibetan Muslims there dressed in their traditional garments participated in a ceremony. There are around 1200 Tibetans in the new settlement in Srinagar consisting of 210 families.

Tibetans in general have suffered greatly under Chinese occupation. Tibetan Muslims have undergone great mental and physical strain on account of their peculia situation. They continue to look upon their Muslim brethren throughout the world to support peaceful solution of the Tibetan problem so that the, too, like their Tibetan Buddhist brethren, can return to their homeland. When asked whether he would return to Tibet in the even of a solution, a young Tibetan Muslim responded, “It is better to live under the bridge in one’s own homeland than be a refugee in an alien land.”

Nightmare in Paradise,Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities.

Nightmare in paradise

By Irfan Husain

IT was around this time of the year when I last visited Swat over a decade ago. An old friend from Turkey was with me, and we shivered in the cold at the archaeology department rest house where we stayed.

The peaks overlooking the valley were covered in snow, as was the countryside as we drove along the partly frozen Swat river. Recalling various trips to the magical valley over the years, I am sorry for all those who can no longer venture there. But apart from the many tourists who are forever denied the beauty of the place, I pity the people of Swat who have been so badly let down by the Pakistani state. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes as Swat descends deeper into chaos and despair.

‘Mullah Radio’ was the name given to Maulana Fazlullah for his daily FM broadcasts in which he called, among other things, for people to stop their children from getting anti-polio shots. According to him, the government teams going around immunising kids against this dreaded disease were actually making them sterile. Terrified, the paramedics halted their efforts in Swat.

I wrote at the time that the government should immediately put a stop to the maulana’s illegal broadcasts. But this was before 9/11, at a time when Musharraf was wooing the mullahs and the jihadis. So Mullah Radio and his kind gathered strength and gained supporters, confident that the authorities would not lay a finger on them. And now that push has finally come to shove, the army has discovered that it does not have the muscle to displace the militants who have taken over Swat.

In a sobering piece on this page last week, Zubeida Mustafa underlined the plight of the people of Swat, and asked why there were no large protests against the killers who were terrorising the valley. Why not indeed? It is a sad fact that while we Pakistanis are (rightly) incensed over the recent assault on Gaza, and other attacks on Muslims by non-Muslims, we choose to turn a blind eye by even worse Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities.

Thus, most editorial writers, columnists and TV commentators reserve their fury and invective for western targets, while glossing over what Muslims are doing to their fellow Muslims. In Swat, there have been grisly beheadings and public executions. Every evening, Shah Doran broadcasts names on the militant hit-list, presumably on Mullah Radio’s old FM frequency. Nearly 200 girls’ schools have been blown up or torched. Scores of video rental shops and hair-cutting establishments have been attacked and forced to shut down. Women dare not leave their homes, and 80,000 girls have been deprived of an education.

Currently, some 4,000 militants are battling 12,000 troops for control of the valley, and thus far, the terrorists are winning. According to reporters who have been covering the conflict, our army has been reluctant to engage the enemy, preferring to lob artillery shells in the general direction of militant redoubts in the mountains. As soon as night falls, our soldiers retreat into their camps while the jihadis rule the valley. In their ranks are a large number of fighters with Central Asian features.

If this situation has been allowed to develop in Swat, an integral part of the Frontier Province, and not a tribal area, imagine what things must be like in Waziristan and Mohmand agencies. Clearly, things are rapidly spinning out of control, and the government cannot establish its writ over large parts of the country. Many efforts have been made to engage the terrorists in a dialogue. Each one has failed as the jihadis, sensing the weakness of the Pakistani state, and thriving on the support they get from so many TV talk-show hosts and their guests, go for the jugular.

Without wanting to cast doubts on the courage of our soldiers engaged in a difficult battle, I must question the tactics being deployed. Counter-insurgency operations are now a central part of the training many armies impart. But we have stuck to conventional warfare training, based on the assumption that our enemy is India. This one-dimensional approach has failed to equip our officers and soldiers with the tactics to beat the irregular but well-equipped forces they now face across the northwest.

But more than the inadequate military preparations that have handicapped us in our fight-back against the jihadis is the lack of a political consensus. With the country’s two biggest political parties, the PPP and the PML-N, locked in a bitter power struggle, those in power have little time to focus on the real danger facing Pakistan.

For its part, the media seems to be united on only one thing: hostility towards the West, and specifically, on criticism of the American drone attacks against militant targets in Fata. The truth few Pakistanis are willing to face is that almost every such missile attack has killed and wounded militants, both foreign and home-grown. And while there have been a number of civilians killed and hurt, this is the unfortunate price for providing shelter to terrorists. If this sounds callous, ponder over the alternatives: who else would go after these killers? As our army has demonstrated time and again, it has neither the capability, nor the intelligence, to rid us of these killers.

Our leaders, both in and out of uniform, have repeatedly said such attacks are ‘counter-productive’. So how about launching some ‘productive’ attacks that would convince the Americans (and us Pakistanis) that we are capable of fighting these jihadis on our own? Again, without wishing to belittle the courage or the sacrifices of our soldiers, we must recognise that so far, the war is going very badly for us.

At this stage of the battle, it is too late to pin the blame on the individuals and institutions responsible for having allowed this situation to develop. If we wish to turn the tide, different tactics are needed. One thing that might focus minds is for the army to organise trips to the battlefield for politicians and journalists. Let them share what the people of Swat are going through, even if for a couple of days. Perhaps then they might see where the real danger lies.

irfan.husain@gmail.com