March 29, 2020
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Mixed Bag

A strategic analysis, no more

Mixed Bag
Wars And No Peace Over Kashmir
By Maroof Raza
Lancer Publishers Rs 395; Pages: 179
WHAT really is the Kashmir tragedy? The three wars fought between India and Pakistan over the Valley, which had once been ecstatically described as heaven on earth? The few thousand Indian soldiers who have lost their lives in the battle to keep it an integral part of the country? Or does it have something to do with the hellish existence of thousands of Kashmiris who find themselves sandwiched between India and Pakistan on the one hand, and between the security forces and the militants on the other?

Maroof Raza's rather well-researched book, one of the new offerings on Kashmir, does not attempt to answer these questions. For that matter, it does not even attempt to understand the dimensions of the tragedy of the Kashmiri people. Actually, Raza's emphasis is strategic, fairly understandable given his defence background.

Of particular interest is Raza's analysis of the educational factor in the rise of militancy. Raza rightly points to the role of the madrasa in the rise of fundamentalism and militancy in the Valley, making it rather easy for Pakistan to exploit the situation.

But the internal political factors which caused the imbroglio have been glossed over. Most of the political landmarks have been mentioned, but the analysis lacks depth. For example, Raza mentions the rigging in the 1987 assembly elections in which the Congress and the National Conference were alliance partners. He also mentions the large number of Kashmiri youth who, in disgust, went across the border for arms training. But he does not quite put his finger on the political vacuum visa-vis an opposition voice which was created by the Rajiv-Farooq accord; and the fact that militants initially began by filling that space.

One only wishes Raza had the luxury of more space in his book to be able to provide the same depth of analysis to the politics of Kashmir, as he has managed in relation to the strategic aspects of the turmoil.

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