Vocational Training for Rural Women

posted Dec 14, 2018, 3:26 PM by PFP Admin   [ updated Dec 24, 2018, 3:58 PM ]

Rural communities are the heart of everything Press For Peace (PFP) does, mainly when it comes to women development and empowerment initiatives. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of opportunities, social and cultural adversities etc. are few factors which hamper women to play an equitable and progressive role in developing societies. Enhancing women abilities and raising their voice at the policy level is an essence of our ‘gender development project’ which revolves around social and economic development of women.

The aim of this project is to provide basic vocational training for women to improve their livelihood. The project encourages rural women to engage in social entrepreneurial activities, which boosts their confidence and enhances their business skills. Through this project, we also focus on educating women about good parenting practices and healthy lifestyles. A lot of activities around this project focus on the mobilization of rural women at the social, political and economic level.
Online Tefl Scholarship
The vocational training project in Bagh specializes in developing necessary skills for women from a disadvantaged background. The project activities are developed to equip them with social and professional skills to improve their lives. For instance, the project provides vocational training for women of rural communities by educating basic skills of tailoring, embroidery etc. 

Press For Peace (PFP) has developed a 6-month training curriculum which develops women vocational skills and also incorporates civil rights education to raise awareness among women about healthy lifestyle, good parenting, conflict resolution, community cohesion, peacebuilding, and other concepts. Press for Peace (PFP) in collaboration of Hope for Life organization, has established a number of ‘Girls Vocational centers’ (GVCs) in far-flung areas of Bagh, Azad Kashmir.
A unique cost-effective and participatory approach has been adopted to execute this project where mobile vocational centers are set-up in various areas on a need basis. After the successful completion of the courses trainee women are encouraged and mentored to start their own businesses for their livelihood, thus, the project has transformed the lives of many needy but enthusiastic women of rural communities.

‘Vocational education Vital for Women Development’

posted Feb 17, 2015, 4:47 AM by PFP Admin   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 7:34 PM ]

Vocational education is very important for women to transform their lives. Skilled women can bring constructive changes in the socio-economic conditions of their families and in society. Civil society has played a pivotal role in raising awareness as well as upbringing status of women through various interventions. These views were expressed by various speakers during the certificate distribution ceremony at Women Vocational Centre organized by Press For Peace (PFP), which is a non-government development organization working for the betterment of rural communities. Under this project, women from marginalized groups are equipped with social and professional skills to improve their lives. The project provides vocational training for women of rural communities by educating basic skills of tailoring, embroidery etc. 

Senior official Yousaf Kashmiri said that PFP has developed a the month training curriculum which develops women vocational skills and also incorporates civil rights education to raise awareness among women about healthy lifestyle, good parenting, peacebuilding, and other concepts. Imran Gillani District Coordinator said that the PFP in collaboration of Hope for Life organization has established a number of ‘Girls Vocational,’ (GVCs) in far-flung areas of Bagh, Azad Kashmir. He said that some trained women have started their businesses and contributing organization an increase in their family income. Social workers and community leaders Jannat peacebuildingShokat Tamore, Zahid Gillani, Rubina Naz and other spoke on this occasion and hoped that such measures would help in the upbringing of livelihood of rural women.

Fundamental Rights and the Kashmiri Refugee Vote

posted Oct 1, 2014, 2:17 PM by PFP Admin   [ updated Feb 17, 2015, 4:20 AM ]

The current situation of fundamental rights of people in Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan poses news challenges. The Supreme Court of the region has initiated a scrutiny of legal and constitutional implications of the proposed abolition of 12 refugee seats in the house of 49 members.

In last June, a petition was filed for the cancellation of the refugees’ seats in the Legislative Assembly of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The petitioners claimed that the symbolic representation of people from Indian Jammu and Kashmir through those who migrated from there to Pakistan was in utter disregard of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan Administered Kashmir.

The part of Jammu and Kashmir that is under Pakistan’s control has a parliamentary democratic system.  Prime Minister of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (commonly known as Azad Kashmir) is the executive head and President is constitutional head. The parliamentary democratic setup in this part of the disputed region was introduced in 1970 on the basis of adult franchise.

The Pakistan Administered Kashmir Legislative Assembly comprises of 41 directly elected and 8 indirectly elected members, bringing the total number to 49. Of the 41 directly elected members, 6 are elected by people who had migrated from Jammu region, 6 by the refugees of Kashmir region and 21 by the people of Pakistan Administered Kashmir.

Photo Courtesy: Daily The Express Tribune 

For feedback: 

In electoral process, refugee seats play a pivotal role as they are easier to win. In order to secure a government in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, the contesting parties consider it vital to get a sweeping victory on those seats.

However, every election highlights the anomalies and violations of civil liberties in electoral system of the region. There has been a growing concern in various segments of society that allocation of seats in Pakistan Administered Kashmir Legislative Assembly is highly disproportional.  For example, it is believed by some of the key political players that Jammu is under represented while Kashmiri refugees are over represented.

A US researcher Cabeiri deBergh Robinson suggests that refugee seats in Pakistan Administered Kashmir Legislative Assembly represent an important symbolic claim, which gives legitimacy of on-going political system over all the people of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole.

Her research also highlights that the legal provisions that created the presumption of return arose out of a specific historical context. There is nothing inherently unalterable about them. Such representation is more like a gesture of goodwill aimed at showing solidarity with Kashmiris in Indian Jammu and Kashmir than actually addressing their social and political issues.

Initially, the Kashmiri refugees were kept in temporary settlements in various cities of Pakistan pending the final decision of the Kashmir dispute. However, later, they got permanent settlement in different cities and towns in almost all over Pakistan.  There were further phases of refugee movement in 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. Another significant arrival of Kashmiri refugees was witnessed after the insurgency movement in late 80s.

Photo Courtesy: Daily The Express Tribune 

Those settled in interior Pakistan have got dual voting rights. They can vote in Pakistan’s national and provincial assembly elections and also in Pakistan Administered Kashmir Legislative Assembly elections. However, the representation of people of Pakistan Administered Kashmir and refugees, who are housed in camps in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, is believed to be inconsistent with the size of the population.

Mobilizing social and economic resources in the aftermath of a conflict is a key factor in re-establishing sustainable communities. Despite of issues of governance, malpractices of local politicians in allocation of resources and controversies about Pakistan’s role in Kashmir affairs, people of this region are strong believers in democratic values. Equally, the Kashmiri refugee participation in local political system symbolically and materially demonstrates and reinforces the continuity of political role of various segments of Kashmiri society.

Division after division and decades of forced migration have created a plethora of complex manifestations all around the world. Kashmir is not aloof from such tyranny of history.

Those settled in interior Pakistan have got dual voting rights. They can vote in Pakistan’s national and provincial assembly elections and also in Pakistan Administered Kashmir Legislative Assembly elections. However, the representation of people of Pakistan Administered Kashmir and refugees, who are housed in camps in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, is believed to be inconsistent with the size of the population.

Mobilizing social and economic resources in the aftermath of a conflict is a key factor in re-establishing sustainable communities. Despite of issues of governance, malpractices of local politicians in allocation of resources and controversies about Pakistan’s role in Kashmir affairs, people of this region are strong believers in democratic values. Equally, the Kashmiri refugee participation in local political system symbolically and materially demonstrates and reinforces the continuity of political role of various segments of Kashmiri society.

Division after division and decades of forced migration have created a plethora of complex manifestations all around the world. Kashmir is not aloof from such tyranny of history.

(This article was first published in Foreign Policy Journal )


Civil Society Seminar Highlights Importance of Peace in Kashmir

posted Sep 21, 2014, 10:14 AM by PFP Admin   [ updated Oct 1, 2014, 2:00 PM ]

Press Release://MUZAFFARABAD:(21-09-2014): Speakers at a seminar, held here Sunday on the occasion of the World Peace Day, highlighted importance of peace in Jammu & Kashmir. They also urged India and Pakistan to urgently respond to alleviating the sufferings of flood-affected people of Jammu & Kashmir. The seminar was organised by Press for Peace, a civil society organisation working for the establishment of permanent peace in conflict zone Kashmir.

Press for Peace urged that a generous help of flood-affected people of Jammu and Kashmir by both India and Pakistan would create an atmosphere of trust, harmony and pleasant relationship, which was a pre-requisite for the establishment of peace in a conflict region.  

Renowned journalist and human rights activist Ershad Mehmood said that the humanitarian crisis after massive floods in Jammu and Kashmir could be availed as an opportunity for peace building through softening the borders in disputed state. India should allow access of aid workers to send relief supplies to the flooded areas of Indian administered Kashmir.

The leader of Opposition in AJK Legislative Assembly Raja Farooq Haider said that increased violence and aggression around the world has created a sense of alienation and deprivation among the oppressed communities of the world.  He also stressed the need of a concentrated effort from global community to dissolve the longstanding Kashmir issue.  Without giving consideration to the aspiration of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, world cannot be a peaceful place to live, he urged. 

The speakers highlighted that the governments of India and Pakistan should expedite the repair work of infrastructure in flood-hit districts and immediate measures should be taken to resume normal civil life. Amid a lack of tangible progress on important civil affairs; whether it is the development of infrastructure or equal sharing of resources among local people, Kashmiri peoples’ dreams of permanent peace in the region cannot be fulfilled. They also pressed the need of lifting of barriers at the crossing points and allowing the transportation of relief items to flood-stricken areas in Indian Jammu & Kashmir.

The seminar, which was organised to celebrate the World Peace Day, sought to stimulate public debate and keep alive the prospect of dialogue on the peace process. It was attended by local politicians, peace activists, journalists, students and members of various civil society groups in Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Prominent among speakers were Patron Press for Peace Begum Tanvir Latif, Executive Director Press for Peace (AJK) Raja Wasim, Leader of the Opposition in AJK Legislative Assembly Raja Farooq Haider, Renowned Human Rights Activist Ershad Mehmood, and prominent Pahari Poet from Indian Jammu & Kashmir Raja Nazar Boniarvi.

Pakistan expels ten international delegates from conference venue

posted Sep 11, 2014, 11:49 AM by PFP Admin   [ updated Sep 11, 2014, 11:52 AM ]

By Mazhar Iqbal // On 10 September 2014, while quoting security reasons, Pakistan expelled 10 international delegates from a science conference which was being held at Rawalakot in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, a local newspaper daily Dharti has said.

Press for Peace, a peace advocacy organisation based in Jammu & Kashmir has expressed grave concern over shocking treatment of visiting international scholars.

According to sources, seven delegates from Indian held Jammu & Kashmir and three from Bangladesh were attending a conference at the University of Poonch in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. They all were disgracefully expelled from within the territorial limits in the region of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The three-day conference titled ‘Food Security and Climate Change’ began on 9th September and the overthrown delegates had already attended the first session of the conference.

The sources said that the ousted scholars had all met the visa requirements to enter into Pakistan; however, the security agencies escorted with local police raided their hotel in Rawalakot on Tuesday night and ordered them to immediately leave the Pakistani side of the disputed state. Rawalakot is 115 Kilometeres from Islamabad. The university management attempted to intervene but were told not to interfere in the work of security staff. Till Wednesday night the official version by the government was not available.

The delegation of university teachers from Indian held Jammu & Kashmir, who entered into Pakistan from Wahga border near Lahore, comprises of Prof. Haroon ur Rasheed, Prof. Zahoor Ahmed, Prof. Dil Muhammad, Prof. Rafique Ahmad, Prof. Manzoor Gul Rahim, Prof. Mussarat Khan, Prof. Azad Khan, whereas Prof. Salman Ali, Prof. Muhammad Burhan, & Prof. MA Rahim are from Bangladesh. According to the management of the host university all the visiting scholars had mentioned in their visa documents that their intention to visit Pakistan was to attend the science conference. Over 300 local and international delegates were invited to attend the significant event.

Pakistan Administered Jammu & Kashmir is virtually a police state where visitors from mainland Pakistan are officially advised to keep their identity with them. Foreign nationals, despite having met the visa requirements to enter Pakistan, are not allowed to visit the disputed territory without prior permission from several ministries and security agencies in Islamabad and Muzaffarabad, the capital of tiny state. In past, a joint India-Pakistan study of the Kashmir dispute, funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) had argued in favour of making borders between two parts of the disputed territory irrelevant. However, Pakistan has always maintained a tight security apparatus in the area to monitor the activities of foreign visitors. People on both sides have continuously been victim of such sanctions.

About Author:

Mazhar Iqbal is a peace and human rights activist and member of Press for Peace, a rights advocacy organisation working in Jammu and Kashmir. 

He can be accessed via:


Sweeping victory in India orders UN about turn over Kashmir

posted Jul 20, 2014, 6:55 PM by PFP Admin   [ updated Oct 1, 2014, 2:44 PM ]

By Mazhar Iqbal  

The phantom of ‘sweeping victory’ and ‘phenomenal personality’ has suddenly jumped out from behind the garb of reconciliatory politics. For various reasons, the government of Narendra Modi appears in a hurry to either explode or defuse the dynamite in Kashmir. It could be a policy implementation matter for the Indian government to ask UN military observers to vacate their forty-year-old accommodation in New Delhi, but it cannot be denied that it has serious implications. With such a dramatic political initiative, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) led government could be expected to initiate a process to erase Article 370 of the Indian constitution – which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir – in a few months.

Though India has not reported any ceasefire violation to military observers since 1972, this does not mean that the Indian government can declare that the UN military mission in Kashmir has lost relevance. India’s involvement with the Mission is much more than what is conveyed to its citizens. The fact that the UN military observers have been stationed in a rent-free bungalow for over forty years is given more emphasis than their need to be there. Understandably, emerging Indian economy might be looking for efficient fiscal management and out-of-the-box revenue generating possibilities, but it should not turn a blind eye on its political misfortunes. One of these misfortunes occurred in 1947.

After Pakistan and India became independent in August 1947, the state of Jammu & Kashmir was free to accede to either one of these countries. Its accession to India by the then rulers became a matter of dispute, and fighting broke out later that year. Newly-created India was concerned over the rapidly increasing presence of armed tribesmen in the Kashmir region, and decided to take this dispute to the United Nations.

In January 1948, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 39 establishing the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate and mediate the dispute. The UNMOG was the brainchild of UNCIP. Though in later years India and Pakistan never agreed over UNMOG’s mandate and functions, the first group of military observers was appointed in January 1949. Their task was to observe the ceasefire situation and report any violence to the Security Council. To some extent, this was a temporary arrangement that enjoyed international backing.

These temporary arrangements remained in effect until the Karachi Agreement in 1949. This was the first bilateral contact between two countries over the Kashmir dispute. The military representatives from both countries met together from 18 July to 27 July 1949 under the Truce Sub-Committee of UNCIP. The ceasefire line was established and both countries formally accepted the UN military observers’ role in maintaining peace. The Indian delegation comprised of Lt. Gen. SM Shrinagesh, Maj. Gen. KS Thimayya, Brigadier Manekshaw and civilian observers of the meeting were HM Patel and V. Sahay. The Pakistan delegation was comprised of Maj. Gen. Cawthorn, Maj. Gen. Nazir Ahmed, Brigadier Sher Khan and civilian observers were M. Ayub and AA Khan. The members of the Truce Sub-Committee of UNCIP were also present.

On 30 March 1951, the UNCIP of the Security Council was terminated but the UNMOG was mandated to continue by adopting UN Security Council Resolution 91. Another ceasefire came into effect in 1971 under an accord between two countries. The UN Security Council met again on 12 December 1971 to guarantee a durable ceasefire in the disputed territories in Jammu and Kashmir. The ceasefire line was renamed as the Line of Control in 1972.

The personnel working in the MOGs are expert military persons who perform their duties unarmed and are strictly impartial. They are mandated by the Security Council to monitor the armistice, implement peace agreements, negotiate between the parties involved and prevent a dangerous escalation of conflict. They routinely patrol, observe any changes in the positions of militaries on both sides, talk to people, keep a close eye on military behaviour on sensitive borders and report to UN headquarters in New York. They act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the UN Security Council. Their disappearance would mean the Security Council has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to Kashmir.

The BJP government’s browbeating attitude towards UN military observers cannot be taken merely as a rent issue. In a politically turbulent atmosphere, a segment of the Indian press has highlighted it as a typical BJP political manoeuvre which involves Indian government’s attempt to show its resolve in implementing its agenda. In fact, it is a significant attempt to ask the world powers who support the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with UN Resolutions to pipe down their trumpets and be ready to march out from Kashmir. UN military observers might consider renting out other premises to continue with their mandated tasks, but their complete withdrawal from Kashmir would require more serious home work to defend a renewed Indian stance in New York.

International Peace Youth Group Organizes Wish for Peace in Kashmir Cricket Cup

posted May 4, 2014, 6:44 PM by Zafar Iqbal   [ updated Jul 20, 2014, 6:40 PM by PFP Admin ]

South Korea:

 The International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) launched the 4th Victory Cup with the theme of Wish for Peace in Kashmir and World Peace at Samrak Stadium, South Korea. 

 Not only foreigners in Korea but also from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka showed interest in this tournament, so they sent the congratulatory message to IPYG

 A cricket league that was hosted by the IPYG Busan branch in Samrak Stadium had a special meaning since the tournament was held for the hope of reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir districts where intense conflicts are still continuing.

 The league has focused especially on cricket while other branches were having soccer tournaments since it is the most popular sports game in India and Pakistan. 



The Victory Cup is a peace themed sports tournament which lasted two weeks and be played at various stadiums around South Korea.

 The purpose of the tournament was not only to content for the position of victor, but also for the players, staff, and spectators to demonstrate through their mutual love of sport - in particular, soccer, cricket - that unity and peace is possible. 

 The opening match was played at the Osan stadium on 5 April. On 6 April, more than 500 participants gathered in different areas such as Seoul, Gyunggi, Incheon, Gangwon, Daegu, Busan, Gwangju as fourteen teams composed of players from South Korea, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, 

Canada, Italy, England, Ireland, Sweden and North Korean refugees competed for the winning place. 

The opening of the 4th Victory Cup, was a day of festivities: face painting, flash mobs, games, and other cultural activities accompanied the first match played on 5 April. Over 200 IPYG volunteers astonished the spectators with a spectacular peace themed flash-mob.
 Press for Peace (PFP), which is member of International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) has congratulated the officials of IPYG and hoped that such unique initiative would help strengthen seeds of hope, peace and harmony in the region.

The irresistible lure of Gilgit Baltistan’s ‘killer mountain’

posted May 4, 2014, 5:45 PM by Zafar Iqbal   [ updated May 4, 2014, 6:05 PM ]

AFP photo

Gunmen shot dead 10 foreign tourists at its base camp last year, but for serious mountaineers, the allure of Pakistan’s “killer mountain” remains irresistible.

Militants stormed Nanga Parbat base camp on the night of June 22, 2013, dragging the climbers out of their tents and shooting them point blank along with their local guide. 
The massacre badly hit tourism in Pakistan’s wild, mountainous north, which is home to some of the world’s highest peaks and most challenging climbs.
But three winter summit attempts have brought fresh hopes for the industry, crucial to the local economy, as it gears up for the summer climbing season.
Nanga Parbat, Pakistan’s second-highest peak at 8,125 meters, has never been climbed successfully in winter because of the treacherous weather conditions.
Its fearsome Rupal Face, rising more than 4,000 meters from base to top, presents one of the most difficult — and tantalising — challenges in climbing.
Simone Moro, one of the world’s leading Alpinists, was among those to return unsuccessful from Nanga Parbat this winter.

The Italian has now made two attempts to climb the peak in winter and the mountain is drawing him to make a third.
“I have felt strange feelings there, feelings that I have never felt before at the foot of a mountain,” he said.
“Nanga is not just a mountain, it is a whole world on its own to be discovered and explored — a planet apart from the Himalayas. The Rupal Face is incredible, its like a giant planet standing in front of you, seducing you to climb it.”
Nanga Parbat earned its grisly nickname after more than 30 climbers died trying to conquer it before the first successful summit in 1953.
The events of last June gave the name a new, more sinister overtone but Moro says the incident was a blip and he wants to encourage others to come to Pakistan.
“I consider Nanga Parbat as the most safest place in Pakistan,” he said.
“What happened last year was just a tragic episode, accidents can happen anywhere in the world but that never means it will always repeat itself.”
David Goettler, a German member of the expedition led by Moro who has twice attempted K2 — Pakistan’s highest peak and the world’s second-highest — said he was astonished by the attack.
“I could not believe it, I was like ‘how on earth did the terrorists come there?’” he said. “I have visited Pakistan six times in the past and I have a super good relationship with the people there.”

The regional government in Gilgit-Baltistan has slashed the fee for climbing in winter by 95 percent to $270.
But Moro said it was very difficult for mountaineers to get visas for Pakistan — a common gripe from tourists who face seemingly endless bureaucratic hurdles to visit even for a short time.
“You have to literally fight for six to seven months to get a visa for Pakistan — you need to open your doors in order to let people come in,” said Moro.
Ashraf Aman, the first Pakistani climber to scale K2, says the government is making no serious effort to encourage tourism.
Nestled between the western end of the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush mountains and the Karakoram range, Gilgit-Baltistan houses 18 of the world’s 50 highest peaks.
It is also home to three of the world’s seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions and hundreds of its mountains have never been climbed.
But it is the lure of Nanga Parbat that draws Moro back, the famous names that have climbed it in the past — Reinhold Messner, Steve House, Tomaz Humar.
“Climbing Nanga Parbat is like crossing an ocean or a desert, heading to the peak with the idea of joining two points across a treacherous nowhere,” said Moro.    source: Arab News http://www.arabnews.com/news/565666

Considering Kashmir: A Radical Possibility

posted Mar 24, 2014, 2:55 PM by PFP Admin   [ updated Jul 20, 2014, 6:44 PM ]

Despite regional concerns, stability in Kashmir remains contingent on local realities///

By Michael Vurens van Es///

Street-talk is often boorish. Graffiti scrawled across Srinagar’s dilapidated buildings, many charred and derelict from 25 years of sporadic insurgency and often brutal repression, is telling. Reading “welcome Taliban,” the message provides some evidence to suggest analysts and Indian officials are correct in predicting a troubled year. The extent to which the sentiment resonates is, however, questionable.

Speaking to The Diplomat, Raashid Maqbool, a senior journalist and scholar at Kashmir University explained, “The Taliban is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is a concept more than anything.” He added, “People that are agitated need a banner, a slogan, an identification. Politics, as much as anything, is symbolic.”

Given NATO’s pending Afghan “withdrawal,” few gestures, however symbolic, could be as provocative.

Statements made earlier this year by Pakistan-based militants have compounded anxieties. Whilst a West Point paper released in May reported that 94 percent of militants in Lashkar-e-Taiba – widely believed to take its orders from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence – consider Kashmir a frontline struggle, claims by a senior Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen fighter that Afghan militants owe Kashmiri’s “a debt” have circulated widely.

In an oft-repeated statement made in August, Syed Salahuddin, Chairman of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organization of more than 13 militant groups, threatened to “flood Kashmir with fighters.” Of somewhat less interest has been Salahuddin’s subsequent assertion that his group has no physical links with the Taliban, nor does he want the Taliban operating in Kashmir, labeling the discourse an attempt to “malign the Kashmiri struggle.”

Despite high-level discussions between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in September, in excess of 200 ceasefire violations in 2013 have ensured that relations between the nuclear-armed countries remain tense.

As talk of a “deadly” Indo-Af-Pak triangle fashioned by the Kashmir conflict provides consolation for ISAF’s modest achievements in Afghanistan, reports warning of the threat posed by “thousands of armed, violent, radicalized” militants have gained traction.

Speaking to The Diplomat under house-arrest, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the hardline separatist Hurriyat Conference (G) emphasized that, “This dispute is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, this is a dispute of 13 million people. Whether they are Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Christians, all the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir have a right to self-determination.”

“We are telling the people that we should continue the struggle on the basis of peaceful ways. But India is not taking any notice.”

He further warned, “At this juncture we are fighting as far as the Jammu and Kashmir people are concerned, but if anybody is coming to help the suppressed nation, it is also natural.”

In a recent statement to Kashmir Dispatch, Asiya Andrabi, leader of the hardline separatist women’s movement Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Faith) said, “We have to think that our brothers are coming to help us, to liberate us from India.”

She clarified, “When Afghan Taliban or al Qaeda comes to Kashmir we should keep in mind that the road-map or agenda should be ours.”

Though separatist leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir have fallen shy of advocating a return to arms, there appears little appetite to thwart its onset.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the politically committed Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, dismissed talk of the Taliban as “vague.”

He told The Diplomat, “When in 2008 millions of people came onto the street the Indian state again used military force to corrupt that non-violent movement. Rather than respect this transition they used military force and the whole international community was watching as mute spectators. They have not broken their criminal silence.”

“In Afghanistan the whole world under the command of NATO used military force against the Taliban. Ultimately they realized that the military option is not a solution so they started a negotiating process. The same people who used to bomb the Taliban opened an office for them in Doha and have engaged them in negotiating a settlement.”

“So what is the message of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, not only to Kashmir but to all the conflict zones across the globe. Is the message that only violence can deliver?”

Though increased militancy seems plausible, and foreign elements may play a supporting role, the catalyst for any outbreak is almost certain to be local.

Given reports of a new breed of educated, committed militants operating in the valley, recent events at Kashmir University (KU) are ominous.

The December 4 attack on a cafeteria waiter, allegedly committed by Junaid Javid Mir, the president of the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), has caused outrage. Though Chief Proctor Naseel Iqbal described it as a “minor scuffle,” many see the incident – which left the victim in intensive care – as indicative of a broader institutional policy.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a representative of the banned Kashmir University Student Union (KUSU), remarked, “These hooligans get every kind of support.”

“The cafeteria owner was being told ‘no you don’t file a First Information Report (FIR) we have pressure we cannot file an FIR’.”

He added, “We still don’t know if there is only an internal report there or an official FIR. Nobody knows what happened.”

Though the cafeteria owner filed a complaint with the police, no formal case was registered.

Despite an official ban on student politics at the university, Mirwaiz Abdullah Farooq, who heads the moderate Hurriyat Conference (M), recently accused authorities of making KU a “hub of mainstream activities,” arguing that “Deliberate attempts are being made to muzzle the popular sentiment of Kashmir of which youth and the students are major stakeholders.”

The Higher Education Minister, Mohammed Akbar Lone, labeled these allegations baseless and unfortunate, claiming that “there is no political activity going on at Kashmir University.”

“Whether they give a space or don’t give a space we will still go on with protests, peaceful protests, even though knowing the repercussions,” the KUSU representative asserted.

(Source: The Diplomat, January 2014)

Villagers in remote Neelum Valley setup small hydro electric project

posted Mar 16, 2014, 4:54 PM by PFP Admin   [ updated Mar 16, 2014, 5:01 PM ]

NEELUM VALLEY: As Pakistan grapples with a crippling energy crisis, people in one corner of Kashmir have taken matters into their own hands, using small-scale turbines to generate electricity from streams and rivers.

The country is plagued by power cuts, lasting up to 22 hours a day in the blistering summer in parts of the country, blighting ordinary people’s lives and hampering the economy.

Government moves to tackle the problem have so far yielded little success and have largely focused on moving from expensive imported oil to cheaper coal.
But in Kashmir’s upper Neelum Valley – part of the disputed Himalayan territory known to locals as “Heaven on Earth” for its unspoilt beauty – hundreds of families have chosen a more environmentally friendly option, setting up small-scale hydro projects to produce electricity for a few hours a day.
“The turbine was paid for with contributions from 50 families and cost us Rs300,000 in total,” said Rahimullah, 35, who operates a turbine machine.

Some were moved by necessity – less than half of the Neelum Valley’s 200,000 inhabitants have access to electricity from the grid.
Small turbines are driven by the flow of water to work generators to produce power, and the 200-kilometre Neelum river that forms the picturesque valley, as well as its tributaries, give the area great potential for hydroelectric generation.

Shafiq Usmani, the deputy director of the Hydro Electric Board of Neelum Valley, says up to 3,000 MW could be generated, while the area’s demand is only 15 to 20 MW.

The growth in hydropower has an important knock-on effect – with an electricity supply, there is less reason for residents to cut down trees for cooking and heating.

“All the beauty of the Neelum Valley is dependent on those forests and streams, and this can only be sustained if we give them clean energy,” Usmani told the media.

One local, Mushtaq Ahmad, said the move to electricity had made a huge difference to his family’s health.

“When we had no electricity for lighting there was always smoke in our house, as we used wood for heating and cooking which causes different kind of diseases,” he told the reporters.

“Since we installed this small hydro project for the past three years, thanks be to God, we have got rid of these diseases and also got some other benefits.”

He also called on the government to expand hydro projects in the region so that more people could enjoy their benefits.

Pakistan faces an electricity shortfall of around 4,000 megawatts in the summer, leading to lengthy blackouts, that have strangled economic growth.

To combat the crisis, Pakistan has sought Chinese help in building power generation projects across the country, including coal, nuclear and hydro.

Chinese engineers are also busy in the construction of a Neelum Jhelum hydropower project in Kashmir, estimated to be complete in November 2016, which will generate 969 MW of electricity.

Chaudhry Latif Akbar, the territory’s finance and hydroelectric power minister, said the long-term plan was to export power to the rest of Pakistan on a large scale.

“The total identified hydro energy potential in Kashmir is approximately 8200 MW and we are currently producing 1130 MW,” he said.

“The total need is approximately 400 MW. We will try to use our resources to produce electricity to help out Pakistan to overcome its ongoing energy crisis.”

Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan upon independence from Britain in 1947, has been a continual thorn in relations and the countries have fought two wars over the territory.

Hydropower has also been a source of friction between the two sides, with India objecting in the past to major dam projects on the Pakistan side. (PFP News) 

1-10 of 89