This book examines the topic of an independent ‘Kashmir’ and why this political aspiration to be self-governing and free from coerced subordination to another nation remains unsatisfied. It focuses on how Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Muslim Kashmiris have envisioned or sought independence for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), or for their particular region within this disputed entity. Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah were the two most significant figures in J&K in the twentieth century. They also were political rivals, united briefly in 1947 by not wanting J&K to join Pakistan and by an indecisive desire for an independent J&K. After acceding to India, Singh quickly became redundant. Through a tumultuous political career, Abdullah strove for independence or maximum autonomy for J&K. In 1988, disenchanted Muslim Kashmiris surprisingly began a violent anti-India uprising seeking azadi (independence, freedom) for their region or for it to join Pakistan. Kashmiris remain severely disgruntled and this insurgency continues to pose challenges for India. By concentrating on these two men and this insurgency, the book provides a focused, in-depth history of J&K from the mid-1920s, when Hari Singh became J&K’s ruler, to the present time, when many Kashmiris still crave azadi from India. While an ‘independent Kashmir’ is a long envisioned aspiration, the book concludes that it is likely to remain incomplete while India and Pakistan exist in their current structures, while India is strong and unified, and while Kashmiris are disunified and uncertain about what status they want for their homelands.
This chapter examines the rise of Kashmiri political aspirations from around 1924 until 1947 and, in particular, the overwhelming rise and influence of one of its major proponents and political leaders, the ethnic Muslim Kashmiri, Sheikh Abdullah. Essentially, Kashmirinationalism ‘re-awoke’ in 1931, partly, but not only, because of his significant actions, which made him a leader of Kashmir Muslims. Sixteen years later, when it was certain the British would be leaving India, Abdullah had become recognised as the undisputed leader of Kashmiris
dominate politics in J&K and in relation to the Kashmir dispute. To the chagrin of other J&K-ites, particularly Jammuites and Ladakhis, and also many Indians, Kashmiris’ higher profile in J&K continues to be the case – and a major challenge for India.
This chapter also comprehensively explores the significant and ongoing issues of Kashmiri identity and Kashmirinationalism and why these are important factors within J&K. Who or what actually comprises a nation is difficult to determine, including in relation to Kashmir. Much of it involves individuals
specifically at Maharaja Hari Singh, the international status that he wanted for India's largest princely state, and his efforts to obtain this status. Chapter 3 discusses the significance of the politically important Kashmir region, nationalism in J&K, and the inherent Kashmiri identity that India has found difficult to integrate. Chapter 4 examines the development of Kashmirinationalism from around 1925, including the rise of Sheikh Abdullah as a major political figure in J&K. Chapter 5 discusses the significant 1947–53 period when Abdullah was powerful in J
Azad Kashmir, while its fighters, such as the famous HAJY group, which comprised Hameed Sheikh, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javed Ahmad Mir and Yasin Malik, were in Kashmir. Arguably, the planning element was more concerned about J&K as a whole, while the HAJY faction represented Kashmirinationalism.
(In 1995, JKLF members on either side of the LOC would fall out.) Either way, the JKLF's pro-independence stance did not make this militant group popular with Islamabad, as the JKLF was soon to discover. Nevertheless, Pakistan
Imagining sameness and solidarity through Zerqa (1969)
Soviet Union-mediated Tashkent
Declaration peace treaty, separatist guerrilla activity in Kashmir
continued. According to countless media interviews and reports,
Pakistani government officials admitted their support of Kashmiri
guerilla groups in resisting Indian forces. At the same time, Kashmirinationalism surged as the people of Kashmir pursued their right to
self-determination. Thus, throughout the
An ad hoc response to an enduring and variable threat
like Hizb-ul-Mujahidin, with both enjoying the support of the Pakistani ISI. While the JKLF's ideology was grounded in a fairly secular understanding of Kashmiri nationhood, it did not hesitate to use Islamist language, symbolism and themes, including the language of jihad and martyrdom, in order to mobilize the population against the Indian state as well as J&K's Hindu population. However, the key internal impetus for Islamization originated in groups like Hizb-ul-Mujahidin and their ideologues. These ideologues not only deliberately linked Kashmirinationalism to