Demystifying Kashmir by Navnita Chadha Behera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Despite being an Indian, I knew very little about Kashmir, when I started this book. I was primed to think of it only in ideological terms, and always viewed it as a problem where if India showed enough rectitude and military might, we will win decisively. And this book has proved me wrong, in so many elegant pages.
The first chapter seeks to bust the myth that Kashmir is a bone of contention on ideological, or religious terms. There are enough evidences to point that at times, Kashmir didn't even figure on the plans of Jinnah, not as a constituent state of Pakistan.Jinnah at many occasions, wanted states to be independent or accede to Pakistan, not because they wanted to or Jinnah himself wanted them, but because he thought that would weaken Indian Union.
The level of detail in this book can be overwhelming, but it can also leave you clueless at times, through references to major events in just passing. This is a decidedly academic work, and seeks to look at political developments only inasmuch as they serve to further the debate on Kashmir.
This book also makes you realize the reality of the situation and introduces the forgotten trio, Ladakh, Jammu, and the PoK, which never figure in the debates about Kashmir. Azad Kashmir and the Northern provinces' treatment by the Pakistan, strip it off any legitimacy to the claim that Pakistan can provide a better governance to the people of Kashmir.
The international angle to this problem is analyzed well and the author doesn't shy away from categorically stating that Pakistan has failed to bleed the Indian state. Without mincing words, she paints Pakistan to be the aggressor it is.
The book is extraordinarily enlightening, but is not a panacea about the Kashmir issue. But then, nothing ever is a panacea.
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