Book Review | Kashmir in the Crossfire

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Author:  Victoria Schofield

Why has the valley of Kashmir, famed for its beauty and tranquillity, become a major flashpoint, threatening the stability of a region of great strategic importance and challenging the integrity of the Indian state? This book examines the Kashmir conflict in its historical context, from the period when the valley was an independent kingdom right up to the struggles of the present day. Located on the borders of China, Central Asia and the Sub-Continent, the insurgency in the valley has also created serious tensions between India and Pakistan.

Drawing upon research in India and Pakistan, as well as historical sources, this book traces the origins of the state in the 19th century and the controversial “sale” by the British of the predominantly Muslim valley to a Hindu Maharaja in 1846. Through an exploration of the implications for Kashmir of independence in 1947, it gives a critical account of why, for Kashmir, self-determination may seem a more attractive option than affiliation to a larger multi-racial whole.

About the author: As a historian and independent commentator on international affairs, with specialist knowledge of South Asia, her other books include Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War and Afghan Frontier: at the Crossroads of Conflict. She is a frequent contributor to BBC World TV, BBC World Service and other news outlets. She has also written for the Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, Asian Affairs and The Round Table, the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. Schofield read Modern History at the University of Oxford and was President of the Oxford Union. In 2004-05 she was the Visiting Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. www.victoriaschofield.com.

“My writing career began in my third year at Oxford University when my first article on South Africa was published in Blackwood’s Magazine. From Africa, my attention was directed to South Asia. Benazir Bhutto was a friend at Oxford, and when her father, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was sentenced to death for conspiracy to murder a political opponent in 1978, I put my fledging ambition to write professionally into a higher gear by travelling to Islamabad. The fruits of my endeavours were several articles in The Spectator and my first book, Bhutto: Trial and Execution. Since then, I’ve remained dedicated to understanding more about South Asian politics, both as a historian and journalist, and have travelled widely in the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 provided the inspiration for another book, Every Rock, Every Hill: The Plain Tale of the North-West Frontier and Afghanistan (1984), which I have revised as Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia (2003) and as Afghan Frontier: At the Crossroads of Conflict (2010). I’ve also written extensively about the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in articles and books, (Kashmir in the Crossfire (1996) and Kashmir in Conflict (2000, 2002 and 2010).) When working freelance for the BBC World Service in London and New York during the 1980s and 1990s, I covered numerous other stories, including a feature on British sculptor, Henry Moore and a radio series on ‘Women of the French Revolution’.

Wavell:Soldier and Statesman (2006) combines my lifelong interest in military history with my knowledge of the South Asia. I have also written the life of military historian and royal biographer, Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, under the title Witness to History (2012). And in 2012 I completed Volume 1 of a two volume official regimental history of The Black Watch, entitled The Highland Furies, The Black Watch 1739-1899, with a foreword by The Prince of Wales. I am now working on Volume 2 covering 1899-2006 when the Regiment was merged, becoming the The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS).”

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