Taniya ShahFebruary 15, 2021
ISLAMABAD-Throughout the history, stronger states have sought to establish an authority by dominating weaker nations.
The British Imperial ambitions were unique, as they triggered two devastating conflicts of the present times, Palestine and Kashmir.
The question of why India and Pakistan, two nuclear armed neighbours, despite fighting three wars remain in a standoff has spawned a vast literature but very few provide a thorough context of the issue in common man’s language.
Author Jamal Qaiser and Sadaf Taimur’s Simmering Kashmir is one of the rare books which skilfully portray past, present and future of one of the oldest unresolved international conflicts in a smart handbook of 100 pages.
Without clichés, or jargons, the book is a candid record of Kashmir related developments that took place during the last few centuries.
Simmering Kashmir, not only gives an understanding of the geographical importance of the area, but also argues the role of major players and the international community.
It discusses the severe political and social oppression which forced Kashmiris to pick up arms and how India’s furious reaction to a just demand turned into an immense humanitarian crisis.
In 2019, India abolished special status of Kashmir by revoking almost all of Article 370, which allowed certain amount of autonomy to the state. Kashmir had its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make its own legislation.
The new laws allowed Indian citizens to settle and buy land in the disputed territory.
For most of the average readers, it is difficult to understand the new Indian legislation and what it meant for millions of Muslim Kashmiris.
Simmering Kashmir gives the readers a historical perspective by taking them back to the 16th century, when European powers competed with one another to control the rest of the world.
It gives an insight of the internal and external circumstances under which East India Company came into being and started its overseas operations.
The book also mentions British economic interests in India and how they manipulated local economy and industry for their vested interests.
After describing the overall Indian political and social environment systematically, the authors narrow down to Kashmir.
From page 55 onwards, the book documents everything from the geographical significance to the major political and social events, which took place before and after 1947. It tells us about continuous standoff between Pakistan and India and the role United Nations played in resolving the conflict.
Simmering Kashmir discusses how both the countries are using their media as a proxy and how reporting has become an extension of India Pakistan war over Kashmir.
After presenting the whole picture of the conflict in a neutral tone, the authors offer a solution to the problem in the same unbiased way.
To resolve one of the oldest conflicts, the authors suggest a three tier approach. They believe if Pakistan and India fail to reach an understanding, International Court of Justice may intervene and solve the matter without violating the bilateral agreement.
Apparently, the proposal is very pragmatic but one may argue that it is an oversimplified solution to a compound dilemma.
The worthy authors have mentioned the immense energies both the states are applying to justify their right over the disputed territory.
More than a matter of pride, Kashmir is the only justification for the massive Indian and Pakistani armies. Would they allow their respective governments to reach any amicable solution and to slash their budgets, ending their monopoly and supremacy over the rule, it is a question which needs further discussion.
Since both the countries have failed to resolve the dispute, the third option, of international arbitration, seems more convincing.
Although Simmering Kashmir is a compact flawless work but an average reader may find the term ‘Civilizing Missions’ confusing.
Many scholars and historians have discussed how British used Christian missionaries, local religious and social movements, and freemasons for their advantage.
Professor Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacobs in her work discussed how British consolidated its empire through freemasonry, while J.N. Farquhar in his book “Modern Religious Movements in India” recorded Christian missionaries influence in state affairs and legislations.
It is more likely that the authors meant to point out the same nexus by the term civilising missions.
Indian massive media campaigns and diplomatic supremacy have misguided the international community about the Kashmir issue and has managed public sentiment in its favour.
Simmering Kashmir is a remarkable attempt to present an unbiased and true picture to the international community.
It’s a must read for people who want to understand the whole Kashmir issue without going into too many details.