Some new insights into Kashmir
Book review by Khaled Ahmed: Demystifying Kashmir by Navnita Chadha Beher

Author Behera is 'impartial' on a subject on which Indians and Pakistanis can't shake off their nationalist positions. Pakistanis have lost the international community on their cause and nothing they say is considered right; the Indians used to present a closed mind to what they thought was a world convinced of the Pakistani case, but now they can feel easy looking closely at the Indian warts. The logic of losing and winning has emphasised realism and the Pakistanis are lost when their nose is rubbed into it. The book still looks anti-Pakistan but what can one do if Pakistan has been mostly wrong?

The book begins by taking account of India's aim to gobble up the hundreds of states left unrealistically behind by the British in 1947. Pakistanis worked on the principle of 'Muslim majority' contiguous areas that could be roped in to swell up the territory inside Pakistan. India threatened the states with the label of hostile states till 551 of them acceded in three weeks. VP Menon and Sardar Patel pulled off the coup, but Kashmir remained on the brink, with a Hindu maharaja ruling uneasily over a majority Muslim population. Nehru was personally involved there because of the great Kashmiri Sheikh Abdullah who was close to the Nehruvian ideal of secularism.
Posted by: john frum 2008-08-10