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Happy New Year 2020 to all Readers.          January 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Jan' 2020


Just a fine narrative !

Malladi Rama Rao

Iqbal Chand Malhotra &
Maroof RazA
At the very outset the authors,Iqbal Chand Malhotra, who has made a name as a TV d o c u m e n t a r y producer, and Maroof Raza, who is a familiar name as a soldier-turned strategic expert, promise that their 200 plus tome joins the dots for “the matrix of a consistent and compelling argument regarding the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
They also assure that they have come up with answers to some five gripping questions: “Why has this state of siege in the Kashmir valley continued for 72 years since the Partition of India? What role has Pakistan played in it all these years? And will there ever be a resolution to the militancy in the state?How will Islamabad get the forces of Islamic jihad-nurtured and based in Pakistan-to ever reconcile to the existing boundaries of J&K? How important is the ownership of the waters of the rivers of the Indus system for Pakistan-despite generous supplies under the Indus Waters Treaty-in determining an end to the siege within Kashmir?
What are China's interests in J&K and how does the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for oil and gas supplies hinge on Pakistan's occupation of northern areas of Kashmir? Why does the future survival and growth of the Chinese microchip industry depend upon the continuance of China's control of the waters and dams in the Indus river system?
While I have my reservations on the authors’ claim that they ‘declassified’ the untold Kashmir story, I have no hesitation to concede that they have tried to present a quick sweep of the history of the troubled region right from the time George Cunningham was the governor of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to the days of Maharaja Hari Singh - Sheikh Abdullah and Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, the first President of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The narrative was neither flattering to the Maharaja nor to the Sheikh. History may be a little more kind to both.
The USP of Malhotra - Raza effort is the British plan to frustrate the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. It examines the role of Major Onkar Singh Kalkat posted at the Bannu Brigade, and looks at Operation Datta Khel, the coup led by British Army officers Captain William Brown and Colonel Roger Bacon against the Maharaja. Also examined was the role of British officers in the Indian and Pakistan armies who had played a key role in frustrating New Delhi’s plans.
The book is divided into ten chapters. Expectedly, the first chapter focused on the interference of the Colonial British master even in the days leading to the rise of Raja Pratap Singh. Chapters 2 and 3 dwelt with the role of British deep state, Raja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah in “endangering the political and communal environment”. The next three chapters highlighted how the treachery of some British officers facilitated Pakistan’s occupation of Gilgit, also known as the Northern Areas.
Sheikh Abdullah dominated Chapter 7 and we get a peep into ifs and buts that culminated in Kashmir’s accession to India. Farooq Abdullah’s political baptism, marginalisation of time-tested Kashmir’s Sufi legacy and Kashmir’s new-found tryst with Wahhabism make Chapter 9 an interesting read just as the preceding Chapter 8 hooks the reader with its account of China’s designs on Kashmir.

The authors claim that they ‘declassified’ the untold Kashmir story. But they have just tried to present a quick sweep of the history of the troubled region right from the time of George Cunningham.

As a former Army Chief Gen J. J. Singh says, it is an incisive account that unravels China’s predominant role in Kashmir militancy, besides other vitally important dimensions. A must read,therefore, it is for an insight into the Chinese strategic interest in the Shaksgam, Siachen and Baltistan regions.Simply put, the authors update us on the dragon shadow over the murky story.

The final chapter is all about how India should come to grips with the reality of Kashmir today. It deserves close attention since Pakistan with China’s backing appears to have successfully hijacked the Kashmir narrative, and is presenting itself as the aggrieved party after the August Modi-fication of Kashmir status.

One unanswered question that engages the attention of the authors is why India did not sign the Stand Still Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan, which had signed the Stand Still Agreement, first imposed an economic blockade and then sent in raiders backed by the regular Pakistan Army.Had India signed the agreement, a military intervention could have been possible and history could have taken a different turn. These days it has become fashionable to haul Nehru over the coals for whatever had wrong in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.

I think visiting, the long neglected/forgotten K M Munshi’s Constitutional Papers will offer an ‘acceptable’ insight into Nehru’s tryst with Kashmir. This book under review is a good narrative with not much that can go as declassified.