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Realistic Prognoses

B.G. Verghese

Edited by Amitabh Mattoo, Kapil Kak, Happymon Jacob
K.W. Publishers, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 306, Rs. 840.00


J&K is very much the flavour of the day and there have been many publications on this theme in recent years. This compendium of 21 essays, put together by the Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies of Jammu University, constitutes a useful addition to this body of literature. Together with the Introduction and Conclusion the volume is divided into four sections: the Regional Dimension; Indo-Pakistan Relations, From the Past to the Present; Peace Building in J&K; and Indo-Pakistan Relations and The Way Forward.   Amitabh Mattoo sets the framework of discourse as the interplay of three forces in the backdrop of Indo-Pakistan relations: the subedars who wish to take a hard line, the suadagars who favour a policy of benign neglect, and the sufis, who would proactively promote peace. Jasjit Singh argues that since hostilities are always a possibility, by weaponizing India and Pakistan have established (an uneasy) nuclear stability. The limits to conventional war have been explored through Kargil type incursions and cross border terrorism. China too will need to adapt to a wider nuclear environment that includes India. He concludes that the sensible way forward therefore would be to heed the lessons of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty which aims to reduce offensive weapons’ capability through a negotiated agreement, leaving the ratio of forces essentially unaltered but at lower levels, and allowing for strategic defensive reserves to create a firebreak against nuclear escalation.   Some of the history narrated in the volume needs a re-look. Thus, in discussing the territorialization of identity, Devika Sharma writes in the context of Siachen that the conversion of the cease fire line in J&K to the LoC in 1972 ‘never accurately delineated’ the terminal coordinate NJ 9842. This is not so, as a reading of the mother CFL Agreement of 1949 will make clear. The delineation was precise, ‘thence north to the glaciers’, with an added injunction barring any no man’s land. Once obfuscation on this point is allowed by setting aside history and geography, then it is open season for everybody to push their own pet theories. And this is what has happened, powerfully aided by the gratuitous exertions of the United States in making India the aggressor in Siachen by unilaterally altering its own maps of the CFL around 1967. Again, she argues that ‘in Pakistan’s view, J&K’s Hindu King’s accession to India did not reflect the commonly ...

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