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[ 198 ] asia policy and substantive sense. I would point out that, unlike a host of Indian scholars and commentators, I did not seek to blithely suggest that the insurgency of 1989 was the product of nefarious Pakistani designs. Instead my book went to some length to show that previous Pakistani attempts to sow discord in Kashmir had failed. Ironically, the Pakistanis managed to exploit the extant political grievances after 1989 because a new generation of Kashmiris, who had acquired a degree of political sophistication thanks to the economic and social policies of the Indian state, would no longer tolerate its continued electoral chicanery. These shortcomings and criticisms of the work notwithstanding, I would like to reiterate that Behera’s research will be of considerable value to the intelligent but non-specialist audience. The Kashmir Quagmire: How to End It Shalendra Sharma In her erudite and insightful work, Navnita Chadha Behera provocatively challenges the dominant narrative of the intractable “Kashmir question.” This narrative has long viewed the problem as mainly a territorial dispute between two hostile neighbors: India and Pakistan. With great patience and nuance, Behera tells us that there is much more to the story than this. Going beyond the stereotypical view of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a convulsive region divided sharply along primordial religious lines, she incisively illustrates that the state—home to an myriad mix of peoples, cultures, languages, and religions—is actually one of the most diverse in the subcontinent. Given this reality on the ground, she makes a spirited case  The state of Jammu and Kashmir is an amalgam of peoples of diverse ethnolinguistic and religious background. Indian-controlled Kashmir consists of three core areas: the Kashmir Valley (or the Vale), Jammu, and Ladakh. The Kashmir Valley is overwhelmingly Muslim, Jammu is mainly Hindu, and Ladakh is mainly Buddhist. The Pakistan controlled sector is divided into two parts: Azad, or “Free Kashmir,” and the northern territories of Gilgit and Hunza. The Chinese control the Aksai Chin region in northeastern Ladakh. Shalendra Sharma is Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco. He is the author of The Asian Financial Crisis: Meltdown, Reform and Recovery (2003). His latest book, From Vision to Action: Strategies to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, will be released in 2007 by Routledge. He is available at . [ 199 ] book review roundtable • demystifying kashmir that recognizing the rich, complex, and multifaceted character of Kashmir is important not only for understanding the structural causes of the simmering conflict but also for providing opportunities to establish a just and lasting peace. Behera’s arguments are particularly compelling because they are based on extensive archival and field research and draw on a broad array of primary sources. This dogged attention to detail, interwoven with the author’s seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the region, enables her to provide both a sober and balanced history of Kashmir from pre-partition India to the present day and a deeply empathetic account of a region in crisis. Behera is at her best, however, when she illuminates in painstaking detail the complex confluence of competing ideals, historical forces, and local, regional, and international protagonists (as well as their power calculations and ambitions) underpinning the Kashmir conflict. While the story regarding the political and military components of India’s and Pakistan’s “Kashmir strategy,” the self-determination debate, and the violent insurgent movement that began in 1989 has been told before, Behera’s account is richer than most. Eschewing acrimony and polemics, she judiciously pulls together a mass of complex information and insights into a solid, convincing, and eminently readable account. Yetthereisagrudgingsensethatsomethingismissingfromthisotherwise fine volume. Two issues come to mind. First, the conclusion which focuses on what Behera terms the “Four P’s”—parameters, players, politics, and prognosis of the ongoing peace process in Kashmir—remains rather vague and unconvincing. Second, and more importantly, the author misses the opportunity to reconcile how the conflict is a political battle of state-making between India and Pakistan as well as a communal Hindu-Muslim conflict. By framing the conflict as a political battle of state-making between India and Pakistan rather than also a sectarian Hindu-Muslim conflict, Behera...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2960
Print ISSN
1559-0968
Pages
pp. 198-201
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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