21 January, 2021

Burnt Leaves Of The Chinar

A comprehensive study of Kashmir looks at its history, the conflict, the irretrievable tangle of interests and casts a gimlet eye on political bungling

Photograph by PTI
Burnt Leaves Of The Chinar

This is the most apt book to read at present, with the faceoff bet­ween India and Pakistan over Kashmir at a dangerous new level.  This conflict-ridden tale has been playing out since insurgency started 30 years ago, or perhaps since Kashmir was first invaded by Pak­istan 71 years ago. As the oldest unresolved issue on the UN statute book, the Kashmir story is narrated with precision by Radha Kumar; she calls it a “labour of pain as much as of love”.

The Kashmir dispute has two intertwined strands: internal and external. As an academic and practitioner of conflict resolution, Kumar covers the full spectrum of the Kashmir imbroglio, encompassing its historical roots, troubled legacy and convoluted internal politics, couched in evolving geo­politics and marked by the failure to find any durable meeting points between New Delhi and Srinagar and New Delhi and Rawalpindi. Except, as Kumar points out, in late 2006, with a Musharraf-led government in Pakistan and UPA government in India, when the Lambah-Aziz bac­k­channel produced the 4/5...



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