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Published in the 1-15 July 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Indo-Pak relations in a new light 

The Milli Gazette Online

Partition has rarely resolved conflicts. Radha Kumar’s Making Peace with Partition (New Delhi: Penguin, 2005, pp 126, Rs 195) is an interesting take on India-Pakistan relations, which draws attention to the opportunities for peace-building that have come up in recent years. 

Partition was accompanied by horrific violence but unlike other partitioned regions like Ireland and Cyprus, the India-Pakistan experience with partition had several positives– the Indian and Pakistani armies did not engage in the violence that engulfed the two countries, most of the militias that unleashed violence demobilised quickly in the aftermath of partition.

Kumar draws attention to several instances when, “goodwill did trump acrimony in the early years, even in the face of renewed conflict.” The author argues that solutions to address the conflict over Kashmir have generally sought to, “juggle territory in such a way as to satisfy the competing aspirations of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists and failed for the same reason.” In contrast, the 2004 peace process, “approached the territorial issue in a radically different way”. She interprets the ongoing attempt at resolution of the conflict as seeking to embed a Kashmir settlement in a trilateral and regional framework. This would involve wide-ranging autonomy or self-rule to the various parts of the princely state of Kashmir, with Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas under formal Pakistan control and Jammu under formal Indian control. 

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