LITERARY REVIEW

Opportunity beckons

By Anita Joshua

Opportunity beckons

RADHA KUMAR'S Making Peace with Partition brings up the fifth in Penguin's Interrogating India series that "looks at the common sense prevailing on some of the most pressing issues of our times". Drawing parallels between partition-related peace processes in Bosnia, Ireland, Cyprus and Israel-Palestine, Kumar does a short sprint back into the turbulent history of India and Pakistan.

Written during a new thaw in relations between the two countries, the author attributes the prevailing atmosphere to the "public constituency for peace that grew between 1999 and 2004" with the help of "powerful backers".

Kumar's submission is that both nations are well poised today to iron out the rough spots as "most of the key elements that go into a successful peace process — local and national initiatives with international and diaspora backing — are available to India and Pakistan".

Be that as it may, the former Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York has reservations about the Indian Government's attitude towards Kashmiri separatists. Kumar's contention is that any breakdown or lag in "India-Hurriyat" talks invariably leads to an escalation of violence and an expanded Pakistani role in Jammu and Kashmir. About the Indian Home Ministry's stance that the Government should deal primarily with elected representatives of the State, the counter in the book is that they "cannot win over alienated hearts and minds as long as separatist leaders stand aloof from a political process".

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