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We can’t be happy

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On March 20 (Tuesday), International Day of happiness was observed all across the globe. On March 15, the United Nations issued a report on World Happiness. The report puts Pakistan well ahead of all its neighbouring South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries—India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan in the happiness table. It is matter of pride for us that despite, many social, economic and situational problems, the people of Pakistan have learnt the art of living a happy life. Since India has been shown at a low place in the table of happiness, the verdict over the happiness has already come. Happiness is not a choice, it is rather the result. Generally, it is the economic condition, education, health, jobs and progress in the fields of science and technology that determine the living conditions and the mental and physical state of the people. But Kashmir is different case. It is the sense of insecurity kills our happiness. How can a person be happy when death keeps on starring in his eyes round the clock? We are living under the shadow of guns, grenades and mortars, bullets and pellets. Death and destruction has become part of the lives here. No person, old, young, man, woman, even children are filled with the sense of insecurity. More than one lakh people have died thousands others wounded and maimed, thousands jailed and tortured, houses blasted, business hubs and market places torched. It is a continuous process. It has happened yesterday and it is happening now; father shouldering the son’s coffin, son shouldering fathers, mothers or sisters coffin. The worst affected is the younger generation. They are, in real, the children of conflict. None of them has seen the children. They have no stories of the childhood, the children usually have. They are at the sound of grenade blast or gun-fire. Guns, grenades, crackdown, Killings, Injuries, curfew, arrests, hartal, pellets, bullets, encounter, army, firing, shutdown, kabre (grave), Mujahid, Shaheed, Muzahiray (demonstrations), Ihtijaj (protests), Jinazah, Jaloos is the language and vocabulary children in Kashmir know. Some years back, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages held a painting competition for children in Srinagar. Some 495 children participated in the competition—all normal, school-going youngsters, of normal, conscientious parents. “My Valley” was the topic of the competition. While referring to Kashmir, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is the beauty of the valley. The snowcapped mountains, gushing water streams, clean water springs, lush green valleys and fresh air. The organizers had held the painting competition against this backdrop. But the results were shocking. There were paintings of encounters, paintings of explosions, paintings of killings, and paintings of fire — some sad, some satirical, some subdued, some aggressive, they all told the same tale. There were other paintings, equally violent, equally potent like ‘The Wounded Paradise’, ‘Let Us Play Firing’, ‘Firing’ ‘Save Our Valley’, The Distributed Fingers, My Valley Through Our Window, The Valley Is In Danger… and scores more. It proclaimed the reality of Kashmir. The violent colours the youngsters used in abundance corroborated it. Waking up to nocturnal knocks of gunmen in the middle of the night, and being bundled out of the house unceremoniously while they go ahead with the oh-so-frequent search operations, is a terrifying experience. This is not true about unformed people only. Kashmir is house of different gun-wielding people. It is anyone of them who can knock at your door. Kashmir is a small place with close societal links. Not a single family could be named that has not suffered in one or the other way in the past 30 years. How could a people be happy in this situation?