The situation in Kashmir is often in the news, but is still not fully understood by most Americans. Without the context of the news, the impact and empathy for the events is muffled. Below is a list of 10 books that help shed some light on the full history of the conflict and the impact on the people. There are also novels and non-fiction which can be enlightening as well
- Danger in Kashmir by Josef Korbel
Originally published in 1954,
Josef Korbel, the Czech-American diplomat and father of the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, sheds light on the early U.N. interventions in solving the Kashmir conflict. Korbel explains why Pakistani tribals invaded Kashmir and what made the Maharaja of Kashmir sign the instrument of accession and Lord Mountbatten’s role in it. The book delves into the work of the United Nations and why they ultimately failed to solve the Kashmir crisis.
- Kashmir: A disputed legacy, 1846-1990 by Alastair Lamb – (January 1, 1991)
Lamb delves into the genesis of the conflict. Because of a 1994 order by the Indian home ministry that forbade the import of books about Kashmir written by foreigners, this book was unavailable in India. In the book, Lamb argues that Kashmir’s accession to India in 1947 was invalid because the people of Kashmir were not consulted at the time, and their desires were never taken into consideration by the Maharaja. He maintains that the actions of the Indian army in Kashmir in 1947 were illegal on judicial grounds.
- Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative by Khalid Bashir Ahmad (2017)
Ahmad seeks to challenge the perpetuated narratives of Kashmir’s history over the centuries. The author aims to bring forward the hidden “true” Kashmiri history of the land and its people, and delegitimize the popularly held beliefs which he sees as “myths propagated by a well-planned state machinery.
- Do you Remember Kunan Poshpora?: The Story of a Mass Rape (July 15, 2016) by Essar Batool, Ifrah Butt, Munaza Rashid, Natasha Rather and Samreena Mushtaq
One night in February, Indian security forces raided a village in Kupwara. They imprisoned all the men of the village and raped 31 women in two hamlets: Kunan and Poshpora. Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora? is a brave attempt to expose the war crimes committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir.
- Jammu and Kashmir: Politics of Identity and Separation by Rekha Chowdhary (5 October 2015)
Jammu and Kashmir: Politics of identity and Separatism
This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of the complex conflict situation in Kashmir. Through an internal perspective it offers a detailed examination of the background in which separatist politics took roots in Kashmir, and the way it changed its nature in the militancy and post-militancy period.
- Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer – (October 18, 2014) Peer paved the way for Kashmiri writers to tell their own stories through literature. A searing memoir of growing up Kashmiri in the 1990s, the book sheds light on the young men who crossed the border for military training in Pakistan. In the second half of the book, Peer writes about how the Indian security forces oppressed the local population, and how the freedom movement was crushed by state-sponsored terrorism.
- Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir – (April 9, 2013) edited by Sanjay Kak.
The summer of 2010 was the beginning of non-violent protests in Kashmir. Kak describes the 2010 Kashmir “intifada.” It is an anthology of essays, interviews, cartoons, poems, and songs. What makes it stand out is that almost all the contributors are Kashmiris, which was missing in the literature produced before. Here you read the first-hand account of street protests and the growing desire among Kashmiri youth for the Azaadi or freedom from the Indian rule.
- The Kashmir Dispute: 1947-2012 (2 volumes) by AG Noorani (Oxford University Press, 2014)
Constitutional expert and lawyer AG Noorani compiles his detailed accounts of the longstanding dispute and complex history of the region backed by painstaking research spanning over years based on both archival and contemporary documents. Blaming both the Pakistani and Indian administrators, as well as the British for the plight, tragedies, and continuing miseries of the Kashmiris, Noorani does not shy away from addressing the biggest ‘villain’ responsible for the wrongdoings.
- Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir by Christopher Snedden (July 5, 2011)
In a radical approach, Snedden aims to reject the popular narrative and notions that Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan instigated the dispute over Kashmir’s international status. Rather the author documents how the Jammuites engaging in three significant actions post-partition 1947 instigated the unresolved dispute.
- The Limits of Influence: America's Role in Kashmir by Howard B. Schaffer (May 7, 2009)
This book is an important read to understand America’s diplomatic attempts at solving the Kashmir conflict. Schaffer, a retired diplomat living in India, looks at Kashmir from 1948 until Obama’s presidency in 2008. He explains why John F. Kennedy took a different position from his predecessors on the conflict, and how it helped America maintain good relations with both India and Pakistan.
- Munnu: A Boy From Kashmir by Malik Sajad – (August 11, 2015 )
This is the only graphic novel to come out from Kashmir. Inspired by German expressionist wood prints, Sajad paints a harrowing picture of what it’s like to come-of-age in Kashmir. The local characters are anthropomorphized as Kashmiri Stags, an endangered native species. Rather than viewing Kashmir as a geopolitical problem, he prefers to see the conflict through the lens of humanity. This brilliant piece of literature won the Verve Story Teller of The Year award in 2016.
- My Mother's Scribe: Poems and Tales by Rafiq Kathwari (November 1, 2020)
Kathwari is the first Kashmiri recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He breaks down walls and leaves glittering shards whose beauties make you weep for what is and what could be.This is poetry that expects tears and earns them. From a mother's heart-wrenching madness to a nation's lost paradise, the words confront change without flinching.
- Hussain, Imtiyaz. “8 Books to Help You Understand the Kashmir Conflict.” Electric Literature, 19 Sept. 2019.