Kashmir is by far the most disputed territory in the world. India and Pakistan have arrived at agreements many times over but there has been no concrete solutions to quell these disputes once and for all. The political agendas on both the sides of the territory has kept this piece of land in utter chaos. Forgotten Kashmir by Dinkar P. Srivastava is my latest read on Kashmir narrative.

The other books based on Kashmir that I have read in the past are –

Paradise at war

The lion of Kashmir

Our moon has blood clots

Kashmir’s untold story

The tree with thousand apples

A quest for spring

The far field

Even before you delve deeper into this book, the author pens, “Much has been written about Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). However, very little is known about the other side of the Line of Control (LoC). The purpose of writing this book is to look at Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in terms of aspirations of its people and the policies of Pakistan.” What follows is a thorough analysis of Pakistan’s commitments towards the people of PoK, it’s international commitments, the wishes of the citizens, understanding the so-called “azadi” or freedom, fallacies it has committed over the years, it’s stifled relationship with India, strategic relationship with China, and a look at these issues in the contemporary context.

The book begins with the ascension of Kashmir to India and the wars that led to unendless chaos. To understand these policies and fallacies, the author divides the book into 7 parts. Year by year and through a thorough research the author shows us how Pakistan has failed the citizens of PoK and the diplomacies it has employed throughout these years.

“There were no elections for the first twenty-six years, when PoK was ruled by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas. Curiously, elections in PoK usually result in the victory of the party in power in Islamabad,” observes the author.

The author has conviction in his words which makes a reader think. “The problem is not the absence of constitutional provisions, but political will on the part of Pakistan.”

The author has studied the writings, speeches, news and every available documents by or about Pakistani leaders, and about Pakistan and PoK, which makes the narrative of this book doubly strong.

“Sheikh Abdullah mentions an interesting anecdote in his book, Flames of the Chinar, ‘One of our activists, Ali Mohammad Tariq, asked Jinnah if future of Kashmir would be decided by the people of Kashmir. Pat came the reply, “Let the people go to hell.” When the people learned about this, they were quite hurt.”

The writing is understandable enough. However, if you are already adept vis-à-vis the policies pertaining to J&K you are more likely to gain an in-depth knowledge of the proclamation of Pakistan’s so-called, ‘Kashmir cause.’

The author also speaks about Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the Indian state of J&K. “While denying freedom and democracy to the people of PoK, Pakistan was keen to promote azadi in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
….Pakistan used JKLF to start a campaign of terror in J&K as the war in Afghanistan wound up. The aim was to exploit alleged irregularities in the 1987 elections in the former state. This was ironic, given that Pakistan did not hold any elections in PoK for more than a decade till 1970.”

The review of this book may go on forever as this book touches upon multiple aspects related to Kashmir, especially PoK. However, my last word for this book is – Eye-opener.

This book needs to be patiently read and comprehended.

*Note – The author, a seasoned diplomat, provides a wealth of information that comes from his stint in Karachi, involvement in the Jammu and Kashmir issue at the Ministry of External Affairs, discussions in the United Nations, and as a member of bilateral working groups to counter-terrorism with the US, EU, UK, and Canada. (Taken from the blurb)

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