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#Current Affairs

Ravaging Floods – A Voice From the Kashmir Valley




By: Iftikhar Ashraf

Kashmir is no stranger to natural disasters and from time to time it has had to face the wrath of Mother Nature, be it through earthquakes or floods.

Some years back Kashmir (both Indian Occupied and Pakistan Occupied; henceforth Kashmir will refer to Indian Occupied Kashmir) was devastated by a powerful earthquake which razed to ground cities, towns, and villages, killing thousands of people. A couple of days back another natural disaster, a flood, came to pay a visit, the worst in six decades.

Though both these disasters were natural, human interference played an amplifying role. Had the people stayed within their limits, the damage caused could have been less.

Torrential Rains

On the evening of September 2nd, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed torrential rains which turned into a flood-like situation as soon as September 3rd. The situation became dire on September 4th; many localities in south Kashmir as well as in the capital city of Srinagar were submerged and needed to be evacuated. By the evening of the 4th circumstances became even worse, leading to loss of life and property in many areas of Kashmir and Jammu. On the 5th, the situation had gotten out of hand; the administration was groping in the dark trying to take charge and praying to Allah for ease. Two of the Valley’s major hospitals had to be evacuated and the Valley’s land connectivity with the rest of the world was washed away (the Jammu Srinagar and Srinagar Muzaffarabad Highways had been closed), many far flung areas were cut off from the rest of Valley.


The Jhelum River in old city Srinagar, just a few inches far from drowning the old city.

The rains briefly stopped on the afternoon of September 5th but destruction continued. Landslides became more frequent, killing people and destroying property; the overflowing rivers and streams continued to flood residential areas (rains have resumed since then). Most of the Valley is now also facing a drinking water shortage, as around 500 water supply schemes (stations) have been damaged. Phone connectivity and electricity supply are either shut down or, in areas not as badly hit (mostly North Kashmir), erratic. Radio has proven to be a blessing in these testing times. Since September 4th, Radio Kashmir Srinagar has been running special live programs sharing information about floods, and is acting as a bridge between the people and the authorities.

Calamities do tend to bring the best out in people – with the administration finding it hard to cope with the situation, the people, especially the youth, have taken it upon themselves to provide help wherever needed. Youngsters have used social media to spread information about the flood, coordinated rescue missions, and even provided food to the needy. Some have even kept their cars available for the public, free of cost, for any emergency.

Environmental Impact

Three days of rains is not unprecedented in Kashmir, it rains and snows here heavily. So then what was different about these rains, that they were able cause havoc and destroy most of the crops (fruits, vegetables, and paddy).


The area around the hill of Sukh–Nag, taken about 4 months ago.

Firstly, it doesn’t usually rain this much in the months of July and August and secondly, the water retaining capacity of the land has greatly been reduced due to deforestation. This time, the majority of damage was done by fast running streams, coming downhill from deforested hills, like Sukh-Nag and Rambyar. The streams were flowing with such ferocity that they uprooted massive walnut and chinar trees along their path! Besides this, what complicated things even more, is the reduced area of water bodies to hold the rain water. Almost all the water bodies be it Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake or Wular Lake, have been encroached upon, and some are even on the verge of extinction.

One might think that these are local issues of Kashmir and do not have any immediate or far-reaching effects, but that is not the case. Whenever the Jehlum, Chinab, or Tawi rivers are flooded, these waters are not restricted to the geographical boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir. They continue to cause destruction far beyond geographical boundaries, effecting millions of lives. These rivers, when flooded, have caused massive damage in Azad Kashmir and even the Punjab province of Pakistan. So it is imperative that people of the region collectively put pressure on the Indian government to take concrete and sustainable steps to safeguard the fragile environment of the region. The Indian government is putting the Valley at risk of a Kedarnath, Uttarakhand-like crisis  – the town suffered extensive destruction during June 2013 from flash floods at a time when thousands of pilgrims were there visiting the Kedarnath Temple. Yet, the government continues to promote unrestricted religious pilgrimages or yatras (people think it is being done to strengthen their occupation) without proper safeguards in place. Studies have shown that the annual Amarnath Yatra has pushed the fragile ecology of the area to the brink. Environmentalists are concerned that the number of people making the pilgrimage is having a negative impact on the area’s ecology and support government regulated limits on the number of pilgrims. 

What Can You Do

In addition to contacting the Indian Government, immediate financial assistance is needed in the region. Donations can be made to any international organization that is working in the region. Please avoid donating money to individuals who come to mosques or on the street, unless you are sure about the person. In the past decade people have been collecting money in many European countries in our name, but that money never reaches the people! If you want to donate money, it is your responsibility to verify that the money reaches the people on whose name it has been collected. To the international organizations who are still deciding whether to come to our rescue or not, I would like to tell them that the situation is beyond the local authorities grasp; there is a shortage of boats, tents, and drinking water. There is a need to take steps to stop the spread of water-borne diseases. Above all, we need your prayers.

Iftikhar Ashraf is a Management Professional and Freelance Writer from the town of Sopore in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. He currently works for the Ride A Cycle Foundation. He wrote this amidst power and internet outages due to the floods. His blog can be found here.



  1. Avatar


    September 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    I think you mean September 2nd. Not august.

  2. Avatar


    September 9, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    What idiocy.. putting the blame on amarnath and other Yatras on the ecological problems. What a communal post..!

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

    • Avatar


      September 9, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      I don’t think there is any communal angle in this blog. First he mention abt the calamity took place during the kedarnath yatra. And then he says that the govt still hasn’t learnt anything. Then he point out that the similar yatra also happens in Kashmir. Now this is one event when thousands of people arrive at a given time and they are at risk. Also if no guidelines are put in place for the people althen ur damaging the ecosystem more every year. I think you are being communal.

  3. Avatar


    September 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    I think this is simply an anti India post and nothing else. Indian newspapers and even the Dawn from Pakistan have reported this much better,with excellent analysis from environmental experts.A helpline website went up in Bangalore within 24 hrs,it’s the Indian Army that has done exemplary rescues. So please keep your personal bias aside on which part of Kashmir is “occupied” and which is not.The Pakistan side is still referred as POK by the UN since 1948.Almost 30% of Kashmir actually is Hindu,and as usual we have Muslim writers who forget existence of non-muslim minorities to their populism convenience.
    If you want a stop on yatras, perhaps you should tell kashmris to have a 1 child policy too? Because they have doubled their population in 50 years, obviously there is pressure on land with thick population,there is civilian construction,tourism is the main economic factor, so there is heavy construction and deforestation. This difficulty is experienced in every developing region across the globe, south america for example.THere were landslides in Pune which is close to Mombai,which yatra are you going to pick on for it?That China,India and Brazil have a heavy greenhouse footprint is an indication of what development costs brings in with population pressures.So much for “there is no concept of family planning in Islam” brigade to hide behind the veil of
    Prejudiced articles like this now.
    When did we stop Hajj when stampedes happened at an inhospitable desert? Muslims need to be very careful when they call for censure of other
    Religion’s rituals in particular without sensitivity.

  4. Avatar


    September 12, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    No mention of rescue operations of Indian Army. Biased article.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      September 15, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      This article was written on the 6th and then the blogger was unable to be online. I am sure there were relief operations done by the Indian army, please link to them in comments.

  5. Avatar

    O H

    September 12, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Jazak Allaahu Khair for the informative article. Alhamdulillaah we have been saved from such trials & tribulations which are being faced by our brothers & sisters there.

    It’s good to avoid using the phrase “Mother Nature” due to the paganistic origins & baggage it holds.

  6. Pingback: Ravaging Floods of Kashmir | AlhaquMurun (Truth Is Bitter)

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir



“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: and

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From ….

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#Current Affairs

Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.




israel, occupied Palestine

Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?

This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:

1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens

When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.

Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.

This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.

2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower

The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.

While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.

3)  Military aid and complicity of tax-payers

US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.

4) The Israeli lobby

The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.

5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history

This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.

Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.

The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.

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Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari



For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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