Author: Dr. Nyla Ali Khan
University of Nebraska-Kearney
Let me say at the very outset that this is a much-needed perspective on a region that has come to exemplify conflict per se, thus crowding out all time-honored allusions to bahisht reverberating in the Mughal Emperor Jehangir’s eulogy, “if there is paradise anywhere on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.” For more than six decades now Kashmir has been one of the most conflict-ridden regions in South Asia.
Nyla Ali Khan is the grand-daughter of Sheikh Abdullah, the first Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. It is thus no surprise that the author offers us a uniquely etic, as also emic perception, her social location provides both the rationale and the commitment, and she does an excellent job of walking the tight rope. She states the context and her intent in the preface itself. “I belong to Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a highly volatile South Asian region with rich reservoirs of cultural, social and human wealth… Despite my emotional investment in the issue, I have tried to veer away from the seductive trap of either romanticizing or demonizing certain political actors and initiatives”. [ix-x] She is not wary of treading controversial terrain and she claims the Kashmiri ‘national identity’ is a composite collective one, emerging from the silence of a people “…Caught between the rival siblings India and Pakistan….”[ix]
Jaskiran Mathur, Ph.D.
Chair Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice
St. Francis College, Brooklyn NY