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.
And although India is now largely in control of the anti-Indiainsurgency in Kashmir, the concept of azadi amongst Kashmiris has neither died nor disappeared. What Kashmiris actually mean by azadi is challenging. Problematically, there are many translations and spellings of this Persian/Urdu term, and more than one meaning or interpretation also exist, as we shall see. Increasingly, however, Kashmiris appear to be giving azadi a strongly negative meaning or connotation: to be rid of, or free from, India and Indian control. Such anti-Indian sentiments have been
Kashmiris, despite the challenges of securing, then possibly maintaining, such an independent state given its potential geo-strategic circumstances and the penchant of India and Pakistan to meddle. As part of their struggle, Muslim Kashmiris and other ‘foreign’ Muslim extremists operating in the Kashmir Valley have been opposing India and its security forces since 1988. This anti-Indiainsurgency continues. Even so, one of India's advantages is that Kashmiris are very disunified in their anti-India activities and in their aspirations for their region. Should Kashmiris
To be independent, or not to be independent? That is the question1
never been satisfactorily resolved, with both parties at odds with each other basically since 1947. Furthermore, as J&K has become more integrated into India, Kashmiris’ disenchantment has risen in equal and opposite proportions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the bigger, more powerful, party has ‘won’ this integration struggle. Given the Kashmiris’ ongoing anti-Indiainsurgency since 1988, India's victory has been pyrrhic.
For some Indians, a further Indian mistake was to agree a ceasefire with Pakistan in 1949. They believe that Nehru should have
Afghan government in its reconstruction efforts, it would not be
directly engaged in security operations, but this increasingly became harder
to sustain. The inability of the Indian government to provide for the security
of its private sector operating in Afghanistan led to a paradoxical situation,
in which the Indian government’s largest contractors in Afghanistan seemed
to have participated in projects that might have ended up paying off the
Haqqani Network, one of Afghanistan’s deadliest and most anti-Indiainsurgent groups.21 A debate therefore started taking place