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Kashmir: roots of conflict, paths to peace

Sumantra Bose|
Harvard University Press (September 2003)

In 2002, nuclear-armed adversaries India and Pakistan mobilised for war over the long-disputed territory of Kashmir, sparking panic around the world. Drawing on extensive firsthand experience in the contested region, Sumantra Bose reveals how the conflict became a grave threat to South Asia and the world and suggests feasible steps towards peace.

Though the roots of conflict lie in the end of empire and the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, the contemporary problem owes more to subsequent developments, particularly the severe authoritarianism of Indian rule. Deadly dimensions have been added since 1990 with the rise of a Kashmiri independence movement and guerrilla war waged by Islamist groups. 

Bose explains the intricate mix of regional, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste communities that populate Kashmir, and emphasizes that a viable framework for peace must take into account the sovereignty concerns of India and Pakistan and popular aspirations to self-rule as well as conflicting loyalties within Kashmir. He calls for the establishment of inclusive, representative political structures in Indian Kashmir, and cross-border links between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. Bose also invokes compelling comparisons to other cases, particularly the peace-building framework in Northern Ireland, which offers important lessons for a settlement in Kashmir.

The western world has not fully appreciated the desperate tragedy of Kashmir: between 1989 and 2003 violence claimed up to 80,000 lives. Informative, balanced and accessible, Kashmir is vital reading for anyone wishing to understand one of the world's most dangerous conflicts.


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For more information, contact Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060 or email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk| 


Book reviews:

'Sumantra Bose both captures the complexity of the Kashmir issue and explains it in ways nonspecialists can understand. It is essential that as many people as possible do understand this dispute, since it is surely one of the most dangerous on earth. Bose performs the additional service of providing guidelines for a bold, imaginative, yet feasible approach to resolving the problem of Kashmir based on lessons learned in other regional and sectarian conflicts.'
Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and deputy US secretary of state from 1994-2001

'Today more than ever the powder keg that is Kashmir demands attention. In this balanced, deeply informed, and compelling study, Sumantra Bose unravels the tangled strands that have made the dispute over Kashmir so daunting. Demonstrating conclusively that neither plebiscite nor partition will resolve this seemingly unresolvable conflict, he offers a bold and innovative framework for meaningful negotiations. Statesmen in Islamabad, New Delhi, and Washington should take heed.'
Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University and author of American Empire