The Kashmir issue has been a subject of international attention ever since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. The clash between India and Pakistan over the coveted territory led to the emergence of Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered, areas. While the social and political conditions in the former have been widely discussed, even among Kashmir experts there is little knowledge of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir (PAJK), particularly its political, cultural and social aspects.
Luv Puri analyses the crucial pre-Independence social and political processes which resulted in polarization within the state and the violence that wracked the region during Partition. He tracks the effect of those events on Pakistan’s Punjab province and the ensuing impact on Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
The relationship between Pakistan and PAJK is an important aspect of Puri’s research. He traces the history of migration from Mirpur to Britain and the Mirpuri diaspora’s significant support to the early phase of militancy thatarose in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. This insurgency, which had its base in PAJK, promised independence from both India and Pakistan. The book also discusses the many transformations in the pro independence struggle from its inception to the present day.
Across the Loc: Inside Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir is a new and original contribution to the body of literature on the region and the role PAJK has played in the larger Jammu and Kashmir tangle.
Luc Puri is a Fulbright scholar at New York University. He as a correspondent with the Hindu for several years and has contributed to various media publications and academic journals. In 2006 he was one of the prizewinners of the European commission Award for human rights and Democracy. His special fields of interest include the situation of South Asian Muslims the Kashmir conflict and Pakistan.
THE INDIAN-ADMINTSTERED PART OF Jammu and Kashmir (IAJK) has remained the focus of the discourse on the Jammu and Kashmir tangle since 1947. Every major political event or turn has attracted worldwide attention, been discussed threadbare and commented upon. While India claims legal right to the former princely state, Pakistan contests the claim, arguing that the subcontinent was divided in 1947 on religious grounds, by only focusing attention on the Kashmir valley, the majority of the state’s population and the area is not properly represented. This is because the Kashmiri—speaking population of the state is smaller than the non Kashmiri population. According to Kashmir Study Group, a New York—based academic forum established by an American businessman of Kashmiri origin, Kashmiri speaking population is 38.5 per cent of the total population in the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir valley together form IAJK. Across the Line of Control lies Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir of which little is known. At a time when attempts are being made by policy makers on both sides of the Line of Control to End a consensual solution to the Jammu and Kashmir imbroglio, the need to understand PAJK is greater. Across the Loc is a humble contribution in this direction, an attempt to touch upon the little noticed aspects of PA]K life. The narrative discusses and analyses the complex social, economic and political factors that affect the region. For instance, there is little information available about the political history of PAJK, knowledge that would be important in framing policies related to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and for improving relations between India and Pakistan.
The first chapter of this book is a discussion of pre•1947social and political processes within the state. The discussion is important to understand the events that were responsible for the religious polarization in some parts of the state, especially the Jammu region and PAJK. The situation in these areas was in sharp contrast to the tranquility prevailing in the Kashmir valley in 1947. The state’s cultural diversity particularly within the Muslim community and its divergent political aspirations were one of the possible reasons for the rift. The existing literature on the subject is clearly deficient in this respect. Kashmir’s Disputes}Legacy, 1846-1990, by Alastair Lamb, talks about the internal contestation within the state that resulted in the events of 1947.2Similarly, work by Kashmiri scholars like Ghulam Hassan’s Freedom Movement in Kashmir gives details about this internal contestation which is focused on the falling—out between Sheikh Abdullah, the founder of the National Conference, and Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, a prominent Muslim Conference leader. This narrative ignores the political divide that existed between the Muslim communities in the Kashmir and Jammu provinces. It is important to understand the divergent political aspirations of the two culturally distinct groups of the Muslim community Both the Congress party and the Muslim League played an important role in the political processes that were at work in the region.
The second chapter of the book is a discussion of the communal violence that wracked Jammu and PAJK. There is a lot of literature on Jammu and Kashmir and the bloodshed the state witnessed in 1947-48, Most of which are memoirs written by the victims. Memory Lame to Jammu deals in detail with the selective killings of Muslims in the Hindu—majority areas of Jammu Khalid Hassan was twenty—eight—years old when he migrated from Jammu amidst large—scale communal violence. Hindu victims from PAJK have also penned their version of the events. Kashmir 1947:A Survivors Story narrates the stories of the Sikh and Hindu communities after tribal raids in the Muzaffarabad district in 1947. Krishna Mehta’s narrative is built on her own experiences as she tried to rescue members of her community in the midst of personal tragedy. A Mission in Kashmir is a study of the Pashtun invasion in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. The book briefly mentions the events in PAJK, and the local revolt against the Dogra rule in the region, but the main focus is the Kashmir valley, particularly the Baramullah district. The third chapter deals with post—1947 PAJK history, the institutional structure and PAJK’s relationship with Pakistan.
A surfeit of literature exists about the constitutional relationship between PAJK and India. The federal provincial relations and the question of autonomy for IAJK within the Indian federal set-up has been elaborately discussed by both academia and policymakers. Balraj Puri’s Triumph and Tragedy of Indian Federalism is one of the books that talk about the relationship of the constitutional integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India and the alienation of the people. But there is little literature on PAJK’s constitutional relationship with Pakistan. Azad Jammu and Kashmir, as PAJK is known in Pakistan, considers itself a free nation, an idea that demands closer examination.
The fourth chapter focuses on the Mirpur district of PAJK. The fact that an entire chapter has been devoted to Mirpur demonstrates the importance of this belt. One of the largest migrant populations of South Asia living in Britain can be traced 1back to Mirpur. The construction of the Mangla dam on the banks of the Jhelum caused the second wave of migration. The grievance over the loss of their land to the dam became a source of political mobilization for the Mirpuri Diaspora to rally behind Kashmiri nationalists who were seeking separation from India and demanding independence. In fact, they were the backbone of the financial support to the militant movement in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s. Kashmiri nationalism based on its distinct culture and 5000 years of continuing civilization was not able to accommodate the aspirations of ethnic Mirpuris. The ’lofty mountains gave Kashmir valley the splendid political and social isolation from the rest of the world. Marginal differences in cultural traditions including dialects alter some distance is a reality in every part of the world. But it will be rare to End such a sharp cultural variance between the Kashmir valley and its neighboring areas. The Kashmiri language shares no similarity with the Punjabi language spoken in Punjab province of Pakistan, the nearest province to Kashmir valley. Sir George Grierson, an authority on languages spoken in the Indian subcontinent, posits that Kashmiri is not of Sanskrit origin but of Dardic origin, implying that Kashmiri does not belong to the Indo—Aryan family of languages, spoken from Dhaka (Bangladesh) to Peshawar (Pakistan). Some of the scholars have stated that the Nagas, the earliest inpatients of Kashmir, were an aboriginal race of Turanian stock who came much before the Aryans conquered North India. The indigenous Naga cult and traditions impacted the religious rituals.
No doubt there was occasional engagement with the outside world as the local kings brought artisans from Central Asia to impart the locals with their skills in handicraft. The Kashmiri cuisine was also enriched by the Central Asian influence that had the same weather conditions. Buddhist monks, Hindu saints and Saints from the Islamic fold were able to woo the Kashmiri society in different time periods of history. Each religion contributed to the evolution of the Kashmiri identity. This can be illustrated by the fact that Hazaratbal, the most popular shrine in Kashmir valley, preserves the hair of Prophet Mohammad, which some scholars have attributed to Buddhist inHuence.° The religious and social practices of the Kashmiri Hindus, till their migration from the Kashmir valley in 1990, were also quite distinct from the other Hindu communities of North India or even from the Hindu community living in Jammu region of the state.
The historical isolation of Kashmir valley was broken by the Mughal emperor Akbar when his army occupied Kashmir valley in 1586, a watershed event in the regions rich past. Kashmiri nationalist historians have often cited 1586 as the first assault on the region’s independence. Kashmiri nationalism became a part of the political discourse of Kashmir valley in the 1940s under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh repeatedly invoked Kashmiri nationalism in his fight against the Maharaja and this was reflected in his demand for a fully representative government. For Sheikh Abdullah 1586 marked the year when the Kashmiri nation lost its independence to a foreign ruler even though the ruler was a Muslim.
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