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Known Conflict, Unknown Problems

D. Suba Chandran

By D.N. Panigrahi
Routledge, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 265, Rs. 595.00

By Nyla Ali Khan
Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 185, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 8-9 August/September 2009

Sometime in the 1990s, mainly during Clinton’s period, Kashmir was perceived as the most dangerous place in the earth. In the last decades, numerous research works have been published in different formats—books, monographs, reports, and journal and newspaper articles. Depending on whose perspective authors look at the conflict, issues are highlighted, exaggerated or undermined. And of course, there were some excellent publications in the last decade. Despite all these works which viewed Kashmir in historical, political, sociological and anthropological perspectives, there are voices which have not been heard and stories yet to be told.   So much has been written, yet so much to write about. The recent works of D.N. Panigrahi and Nyla Ali Khan, should be seen in the above context. Panigrahi’s work is based on an international relations approach, trying to analyse how the Cold War influenced the West to (or not to) pursue policies and strategies vis-à-vis J&K. Nyla’s work is more a sociological approach, attempting to look into two important, yet less focussed issues—Islam and Women in Kashmir.   Panigrahi starts his research with the geopolitical and strategic position of Jammu and Kashmir and the involvement of the US and UK during the initial phase. Unfortunately, any new work is likely to be compared with great research that has been already gone into the subject by Prem Shankar Jha (1947: Rival Versions of History, Oxford University Press, 1996) and C. Dasgupta, (War and Diplomacy in Kashmir,1947–48, Sage Publications, 2002), which have exclusively focused on what happened before, during and after 1947. According to Panigrahi, ‘as events unfolded themselves, it was realised by the western powers, especially Britain and the United States, that Pakistan and Kashmir were of vital strategic importance in the context of Middle East defence and being adjacent to Afghanistan.’ He also refers to Sir Olaf Caroe’s thesis and his closeness to Pakistan; in Panigrahi’s words, Caroe was ‘considered close to Muslims and the Muslim League and biased in favour of Pakistan’.   Important questions that need to be addressed in this context are: Were the US and UK, really considered Pakistan, as of strategic significance during 1947? Did Caroe’s thesis (Wells of Power) influence these two countries? Both Jha and Dasgupta focus much of their attention on these crucial issues in their great works. If the US in particular saw this region as of strategic importance, why then was ...

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