Book : Kashmir in search of peace.
Author: Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg
Pages = 422.
Prize: Rs 400/-
Year of publication: 2010
Publisher: Mirza Publications Sarnal Islamabad (Anantnag) Kashmir
Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg – a voice in desert (incidentally, he has a 20-years long experience in a desert turned paradise). Shall it go unattended? But who will stop him calling a spade a spade? He wrote continuously, he talked consistently, and now he gives a written word to stamp in the process which he calls "peace". A collection of more than hundred articles spread over 422 pages in a book form is really a literary treasure. But for the author it is a thematic combine on peace search in Kashmir. Prof. Agha Ashraf Ali blesses the collection by saying:
"In these truly illuminating pages; Dr. Beg urges us to join him and pray for what we are craving for in the entire world today:
Peace and goodwill. That is the very theme and crowning glory of this book".
To me the collection is a context – specific informative narration. It has a potential to enrich us with some silent bits of history without journeying through its corridors.
The silence of these bits has been intermittently voiced by the Kashmiri leadership or masses. In quest of the peace for the ill-fated Kashmir, Mirza Ashraf surveys the first rank political leadership of India with a pledge to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio quoting Pt. Jawaharlal Nehu; he notes;
"We have decided to accept this accession and to send tropes by air, but we made a condition that the accession would have to be considered by the people of Kashmir later when peace and order were established. We were anxious not to finalize anything in a moment of crisis and without the fullest opportunity to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It was for them ultimately to decide."
But all said and done the paradise could not be freed from distress. The "historical handshakes" turned into the "missiles of peace". And the practice continued but the hope didn't die. Dr. Ashraf is yet not disappointed with the Indo-Pak leadership and expects some thing dramatic, exciting and surprising and finally solving the quandary.
Let me point out that the solutions and settlements of chronic problems like the one we are talking about need open mindedness, freedom from bias, humility and sincere desire and then a firm will with catholic and democratic approach. Unless the two countries together with the victimized Kashmiris have a commitment to the principles of justice and co-existence in the backdrop of the concept of globalization the problem can not be solved. Having realized that all the methods of force and coercion have proved abortive peaceful negotiations seems to be the only way forward …………."
The changed world scenario arousal of positive public response and the stake holder's will to negotiate may provide an immediate road map to the final resolution of the problem: "Political analysts should agree with the opening of additional access points between India and Pakistan our borders have definitely softened. Let us accept the facts that with the flattening of the world the priorities have shifted from egotism and Jingoism to the economic sector. That is why India has responded to the suggestion of a phase wise withdrawal of the armed forces……….."
Throughout his book Mirza Ashraf has been extra ordinary careful to not side with extremism in any form. A balanced approach, a win-win strategy and a peace-oriented programme is what he craves for. An extensive free lancing is also seen as punctuating between the thematic write-ups and temporal urgencies. So topic like, "urbanization in J & K", 'After Iraq what?', A lovely landscape' 'sex trafficking in J & K', 'dying fruit industry', fighting inflation and many others are to be taken as the participant observations with the core problem at the central stage.
Dr. Ashraf himself observes; "Some of the articles may have a flavor other than the title of the book, but delving a little deeper, the reader will find a relevance of such topics in the general title frame work of the book".
After traveling through whole expanse, one may ask why Dr. Ashraf alienated himself from the mainstream politics when he had both opportunity and potential to get involved in active politics. The answer is perhaps the same as my response to an offer from Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg. In late sixties Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Beg came to my hilltop residence at Sarnal Islamabad (Anantnag) inviting me to fight Parliamentary Election from district Islamabad (Anantnag) as an NC-Candidate where as Late Shamim Ahmed Shamim had to fight it from Srinagar district. I had declined this kind and generous offer on the plea that I want to take a role in education because it too needs a committed leadership. Dr. Beg did more or less the same thing by taking a formidable role in public health sector. However, there is a great difference Dr. Ashraf having a spiritually ordained mind, a catalyst's, eye, a positivist's wit and above all scientists vision leaving me far behind.
To close, I recommended this book for a wider reading and enjoyment, and wish that the 'search of peace' ends with peace, prosperity and happiness.