Kashmir In Search Of Peace
A BOOK FOR THOSE WHO LOOK AT KASHMIR FROM A HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVE, REVIEWS PROF. A. G. MIR
Writing knows no monopoly. Anybody can be a writer if he is so gifted. In the present case, the author of the book under review is, by profession, a doctor. Besides, he is a social activist and a columnist. Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg, a person of versatile experience of having worked as a medical officer in Kashmir from Zachaldar to Pahalgam has also worked in Saudi Arabia. He is a well travelled person having visited the USA and other European countries and met people of various fields and professions. Belonging to the Beg family of Sarnal, Islamabad he has been one first hand witness of Kashmir Resistance Movement since 1940s. It is all these factors taken together that have stirred his sharp imagination into action and he has invariably reacted to various day - to - day happenings in the columns of various newspapers and Journals. The book Kashmir in Search of Peace is, in fact, a collection of the same write ups.
Peace has ever been the cherished goal of all civilized individuals and dignified peoples of the world. Its victories have been everlasting and glorious while as those of the wars have been transient and ignominious. Battlefields in which force and bloodshed have reigned supreme have actually been the places with stories of the victories of dying over the dead. As against this, the greatest wars of the world have been won by strategies peaceful and non- violent in nature. Peace is peace; it is indivisible while as wars can be various and only those wars which are fought with a view to quell the spread of evil and with an underlying object of peace can be justified. Wars fought for expansionism, subordination and personal gains and aggrandizement, can never he justified. It is this concept of peace that is the subject matter of the book. The author, himself a lover of peace, has left no occasion unexploited to bring forth the massage of peace quite forcefully in the book. The victories of peace are glorious and the pen is mightier than the sword-these are the principles he believes in and these principles he tries to bring home to all the stakeholders of peace in his book.
The author of the book has quite succinctly put forth his arguments In favour of peace in the J & K state. The State after having lost its statehood during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, had dreamt of redeeming its lost identity but as ill luck would have it, It fell into a deeper abysmal gorge of the partition of the sub – continent into two independent sovereign states which played with the aspirations of the people of the State by making it a bone of contention. Thus the time that should have been the end of a dark period became the beginning of another darker period which seems not to end. The incalculable sufferings faced by the people over the past sixty three years are a sorrowful tale in themselves. Falling between the grinding pots of the two contending claimants, the people of the state have constantly been crushed. The international humanitarian laws of human dignity and honour have been torn to pieces. Several hot and cold wars fought over Kashmir Issue have never allowed the sub – continent or the victim state to enjoy political emancipation and economic stability. Events of 1947 in Kashmir, the UN resolutions promising the State the right of self – determination, back tracking of the Indian leaders vis-e- vis their promises, inability of Pakistan to justify its claims- all have confused the whole issue due to which an uncertainty in the region prevails. Thank God that during the wars already fought on Kashmir, the two countries had not gone nuclear. But now the situation is quite different. The entire continent is on a nuclear flashpoint and if the situation is not handled with caution and care the entire area with all human and economic assets will meet a fate completely disastrous and annihilating.
Realizing this, the author, one with the voice of the intellectuals of the sub – continent, has amply made it clear in the book that peace is the only alternative to solve the existing Kashmir Issue. Wars have not solved the problem; Machiavellian diplomatic ways of handling it have not ended the stalemate, economic packages and short - term and long – term developmental measures have not driven the dissatisfaction away from people. Thus, peace is the only way forward; the only alternative. It is the sine qua non. The author would like the stake holders to realize that J & K problem is not merely a border issue. It, in fact, is a human problem dividing families, ripping apart all emotional and cultural ties.
Cutting across all party, political, economic, ethnic and above all egotistic lines, the issue has to be addressed on humanitarian lines for the welfare of not only the people of Jammu & Kashmir but also for the people of the sub - continent. The situation is explosive and the persons who matter have no legal and moral right to preside over the liquidation of the vast interests and lives of billions of the people of the area. These are the strong arguments used by the author to corroborate the ideas of the well meaning intellectuals of the sub - continent - all directed to drive into the leaders’ psyche the realization of the gravity of the problem. It is out of these efforts that there have been a good number of measures taken in the form of diplomatic Track-II as well as national level three- tier (secretary level, foreign ministry level and heads of the state level) talks. Several agreements and accords from 1965 onwards like Tashkent talks, Simla agreement, Agra talks, 1975 Abdullah - Indira Accord and so on are on record. National and international conferences, Party proposals like Autonomy, Self Rule, Four Point Programme and various CBMS and ways forward have been discussed /held to explore the possibilities of finding out a solution to the nagging problem of Kashmir. All this has happened solely because of the assertion that peace is the only way out to arrive at the solution which is acceptable to all the stakeholders of the issue. While perusing the book Kashmir in Search of Peace the reader can not but note with great appreciation the author’s firm and unflinching belief with which he has advocated the concept of peace. The various ups and downs between hope and despair in handling the Kashmir issue over the past forty years have never staggered his faith. He is clam, unbiased, forthright, honest and catholic in his opinions and approach. He has love for all and malice for none. His approach shall attract readers who shall like to read the book with interest.
While thumbing the pages to the book, the reader notes that M Beg. Is alive to the fact that after having realized that peace alone is the way forward, what is needed is a strong will to decide. For deciding chronic issues of national importance, public ratification is needed. Moreover, decisions which are likely to be acceptable to the other parties involved need be above personal gains, parochial approach and biased thinking. Such decisions need be based on give and take principles. Only win – win situations are to be evolved. Such decisions can only be taken by strong and popular governments, by courageous leaders and people - friendly statesmen. Both, India and Pakistan Govts. are beset with fundamentalist oppositions in their countries who believe in vote bank politics and narrow nationalism. Decision making, in this backdrop, is quite precarious. One more difficulty in this regard is the Machiavellian approach of gaining more and giving less. With such a mindset, all involved groups try their best to steal a march on one another. The parleys between the groups involved in solving the Kashmir imbroglio are presently at this stage. The author has given attention to this problem in various chapters of the book. His open letters to Prime ministers and Chief Ministers or even to persons who matter on various occasions of their visits and parleys, are the efforts to remind them of their human and official responsibilities. Referring to various international agreements on issues of chronic nature, the author has highlighted the importance of peaceful negotiations and international understanding. He has used all material to prove that Kashmir Issue, which cries for permanent settlement, can as well be solved on similar patterns and parameters.
Looking at the book from the historical perspective, there are allusions to the landmark political events of the Jammu & Kashmir State during the period from 1846 till to-date. The book, shall in this sense, prove a valuable study for the future researchers on the State’s Freedom Struggle and Resistance Movement.
While reading the book Kashmir in Search of Peace, one can not but note that there are some chapters which talk about local and personal social events of current nature which apparently strike as incongruous to the general pattern of the book but, at the deeper level, such chapters also reveal a relevance to the title of peace. Educational degradation, political corruption, mass killing of common people and political activists, developmental distortions, day to day traffic problems, lack of accountability, failing work culture, encroachments and so on which find a mention in the book, are basically the offshoot of the political uncertainty prevailing in the State. If the root cause is addressed through peaceful means, the other smaller problems shall automatically get solved.
The style of the book is quite simple. There is no verbosity of any kind. Even a common reader with average understanding or knowledge of the problem or even of English language can enjoy the reading of the book. “What runs through this book is humility,” writes Dr. Agha Ashraf Ali, in his foreword to this book. A humble man writing about the humble theme of peace in humility is, in brief, the story of Kashmir in Search of Peace. The title cover has been imaginatively designed giving a picture of a graveyard. Since a large number of such graveyards has been added up to the State and it is perhaps through such graveyards that the path to peace shall meander to the final peaceful resolution of the problem.
Dr. Ashraf has dedicated the book to his mother and in proof of his sincere social activism, he has declared the finances generated from the sale of the book to go to Mirza Gulam Qadir Beg Memorial trust. The Trust has already been constituted and it shall monitor award of scholarships to the deserving students on merit – cum – means basis. There shall be no discrimination on grounds of caste, creed, colour or religion.
(Prof. A. G. Mir is Retired Degree College Principal. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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