“There have been a plethora of documents on the Kashmir issue attempting to delineate the situation and the causes that led to it. But this is a rare book that looks at Kashmir in the pre-independence era tracing it back to the formation of the state after the 1846 treaty of Amritsar,” says Maroof Raza, talking to Newsline about his book “Kashmir’s Untold Story- Declassified” at the Military Literature Festival on Friday.
Raza, who co-authored the book with Iqbal Chand Malhotra, a retired army officer and TV personality, also publishes and writes for a magazine called “Salute”, dedicated to covering all matters related to the Indian Army.
Beyond analysing Kashmir in the pre-independence era, Raza claims the book provides a novel perspective on the Kashmir conflict as it investigates the foreign interests that continue to influence the politics of the area. “The book brings out the unusual role that the British played in the geo-politics of Kashmir even after India became independent from the imperial force,” says Raza.
“We are ignorant of the enormous lengths to which the British went to secure their influence in the area even after independence. In many instances such as the Operation Gulmarg, it was the British orchestrating a war against India using the Pakistani army as a front,” explains Raza. Operation Gulmarg refers to a military infiltration by Pakistan in 1948 into the town of Poonch, located in the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The military man and author also claimed that there are vested interests of the Chinese, British and Pakistani forces in the area that are frequently glazed over in discussions regarding the conflict. “Sometimes our understanding of the issue is limited to the physical acquisition of land, or the religious aspect of it all, but the crisis is also played out to cater to foreign forces hoping to secure bigger political and economic gains,” adds Raza.
Illustrating his claim with an example, Raza spoke about the Chinese interests in the area. “In March 1963, China and Pakistan signed an agreement for the Shaksgam Valley, which is the world’s highest glaciated region with 242 glaciers. These glaciers are not only a source of water for sustenance, but also for creating microchips which require large quantities of water,” said Raza.
The author concluded that there is rampant ignorance on international interests influencing the Kashmir conflict which needs to be rectified. “I was told the Indian Army will issue my book and make it mandatory for officers in training, because so many military men have no clue about these international powers at play in the valley,” says Raza.