Between Hope and Despair

The book narrates the tragic events of 2010 in all its aspects

Book: Kashmir Story…Hope & Despair
Author: Zahid Ghulam Mohammad [ZGM]
Publisher: Gulshan Books, Srinagar
Edition: December, 2012
Reviewer:  Dr. Javid Iqbal

Book review becomes an easier undertaking if the author is personally known. Zahid is the leading columnist in the state, thus a fellow traveler. The book is a compilation of his articles… Punchline written in 2010 and 2011. Regular readers of GK might hardly have missed the columns. However, compilation in a book form preserves it for the posterity.  
Zahid has wielded the pen even as a young boy, writing a column or two with boyish innocence that cleared the table of veteran journalist; fondly called Baba-e-Sahafat, Kh. Sonaullah Aftab. Another feather in his cap was writing a short script for Radio Kashmir at a tender age, it was broadcast and gave him the needed confidence that he could write. That confidence was indeed a boon to the journalistic activity in Kashmir. That too at a time when it was often projected that a Kashmiri Muslim could hardly be credited with scholastic activities.
Zahid is a Kashmir centric writer, though he is capable of commenting on international situations like Arab Spring of recent years, and on European affairs. Nay, he would have none of it. His plea stays that world over there are scores to comment on those situations, so he better stay with what is closest to his heart…Kashmir.  Zahid in his love of Kashmir is a Majnoon, and his love for Kashmir seems to have a Jehangir like flavour:
Az Jehangir Shah Daam-e-Nazah Chou’n Pursand;
Ba Hasrat-e-Dil Guft, Kashmir va Digar Heech
Asked on his deathbed, the last wish;
Jehangir said Kashmir & nothing else!
I remember Sir Tej Bhadur Sapru defending Allama Iqbal against accusations of sticking to Muslim centric narratives in spite of his immense literary talent which could be utilized to serve the larger interests of humanity. Sir Sapru said that Muslim community has hardly anyone to project their interests, so Iqbal has taken upon himself to do that, and he should be lauded rather than criticized for doing that.  Zahid’s Kashmir centricity may be measured by the same yardstick; however, in his formative years as a journalist, he has hardly left a narrative untouched. It would do him a lot good, if occasionally, he looks beyond the vale.
We may now quote from the very preface of the book, which explains the crux…the pet narrative of Zahid…Kashmir problem in Indo/Pak context and US role in it. Zahid assesses US attitude vis-à-vis Kashmir in its highs and lows---calling it peaks and valleys. He writes that “US has sometimes been articulating its Kashmir policy as ferociously as a sea in turbulence and sometimes it has maintained as good a calm as frozen lakes of Kashmir, but there has been a consistency in its stand in as much as asking for resolution of the Kashmir problem to the urges and aspirations of the people of the state”. He cites two episodes that affected US Kashmir policy. One, death of Richard Holbrook, US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and two, paradigm shift during President Obama’s tenure.
Zahid might be an eternal optimist, however, he might be contended whether an episode or two could disturb US Kashmir narrative to the extent projected by Zahid. Wouldn’t it be safer to say that US policy has been dictated more by what suited her interests in a particular time phase? In fifties and sixties, as US was building alliances surrounding USSR it suited US to have Pakistan on its side, as India playing up the non-aligned tunes chose not to be a part of US alliances, though Nehru had built up his Kashmir case on the basis of northern border being vital to the security of India. Nehru’s telegram to Clement Attlee, British Prime Minister, dated 25th of October, 1947, at the height of Kashmir crisis reads:
“Kashmir’s northern frontiers…run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the USSR and China. Security of Kashmir, which must depend on its internal tranquility and existence of stable government, is vital to security of India”
That explains it, however, leaves a historical query un-answered, while tailoring India’s security concerns, has Kashmir ever had that internal tranquility and stable government, Nehru considered so vital to the security of India?
Musharaf’s four point formula forms a part of narrative, Zahid is never tired of discussing it, insisting on calling it a formula tailored in Delhi and authored by Pran Chopra. The similarity is striking to the extent of accepting that the formula might have been sold to Musharaf, whatever the channel used. How genuine an undertaking it could be, with the twosome—India and Pakistan - telling Kashmiris that instead of controlling you separately, we shall devise a mechanism of controlling you jointly…key word being control, instead of initiating a process of decontrolling the present power dispensing.
There is hardly a contemporary narrative vis-à-vis Kashmir that you will find missing in the book. The book narrates the tragic events of 2010 in all its aspects. It is comprehensive, encompassing all that a genuine Kashmir centric student may desire. I may say, it is a must read, a book worth having in personal library.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi (Reunion is subordinate to survival)
Feedback at iqbal.javid46@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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