India and Pakistan: Continued Conflict or Cooperation? by Stanley Wolpert

(First published 2010)

Stanley Wolpert is back with his latest analysis of the conflicts that plague India and Pakistan. In this book he briefly traces the history of conflict between the two countries, with emphasis on the issue of Kashmir for which, after over six decades, there is no solution in sight. He goes through various national and international initiatives to solve the conflict of Kashmir and explains why they have always failed. The most realistic and viable solution to the problem, according to Wolpert, is for Pakistan and India to agree on thee current Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir as International border, for he believes that no attempt to swap or hand over territory to either country is likely to work. In other words, both countries should end their claims on territories currently under the control of the other.

Woplert’s main concern is the possibility of a nuclear conflict between the two neighbours. He argues that no two nuclear armed nations have ever been situated so geographically close to each other. Indian and Pakistani capitals and other metropolises are only less than 10 ballistic-missile minutes away from each for nuclear strikes. This raises the the fear of a completely devastating nuclear war if perchance one of the countries decides to go that way.

Tracing the history of the escalation of tension in 1999 after Kargil fiasco, of attacks in 2001 on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-based jihadists, Mumbai train bombings in 2006, and yet again attacks on Mumbai by the same Pakistan-based terrorists in 2008, popularly dubbed as India’s 9/11, he argues that there is not only a high chance of two powerful armies going to conventional war with each other but also of a terrifyingly devastating nuclear war, which may wipe hundreds of millions of people off the map in no time.

Woplert believes that the world is quite indifferent to the dangers posed by the continued conflict between the two nuclear armed neighbours as well as to the plight of hundreds of thousands innocent Kashmiris who bear the brunt of torture and oppression on daily basis. It is high time the world focused its attention on continuing Indo-Pakistan conflict and its root cause , ie., the issue of Kashmir.

One weakness of the book is that it is too short to cover comprehensively the topic at hand. I wish it was twice the size it actually is. More emphasis is put in recounting the Pakistani side of political intrigue whereas Indian political scene and its policies in Kashmir get little attention. At times the narrative sounds more like a charge-sheet of the follies of Pakistani establishment in mishandling the conflict than highlighting its dynamics and contours in a less partial manner.

This is a small book. Good for those who want a concise overwiew of the 64 year long conflict between India and Pakistan as well as three (four, including Kargil) wars fought between the two countries. My rating 3/5. Look it up, as usual, on AMAZON.


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