Shaking Hands with the Clenched Fists , The grand trunk road to confidence building measures between Pakistan and India.

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Author: Dr Asma Shakir Khawaja

Review :

In this book the writer has tried to bring about the chronicles of India –Pakistan relations through the lens of historical perspective, persisting conflicts in different resources, partition plan and confidence building measures between two countries. This book is classic example of John Paul Lederach,s theory of conflict transformation. The writer has sufficiently described the root causes of discontentment by Pakistan, due to partition plan and distribution of resources; Indo Pakistan conflicts and conflict management through bilateral/ unilateral confidence building measures. Benefits of track ii diplomacy have been elaborated, importance of people to people contacts and exchange of cultural delegations have been dilated upon correctly and amicably.

The book is an effort towards filling the vacuum that has been created due to lack of Pakistan’s point of view which had so far stayed awry. The book has helped to adjust the current uneven or one-sided view regarding the matter and comprehensively shed light on the respective relations between India and Pakistan.

The writer recognizes the contradictions, loopholes and contrasts of intrigue, purposes for absence of political will for feasible harmony, expectations with Kashmir and disappointment of different CBMs up until now. She additionally reveals insight into Pakistan’s cooperation versus India’s expansionist methodology, role of perception building in crashing harmony forms, struggle over common assets, and effect of settlement infringement and the general effect on the majority in sub-continent due to socio-political strains between long-standing competitions.  

The author highlights the roles of leadership on both sides of the border in shaping the conflict and steps taken towards its resolution. She also presents her analysis on the role of spoiler agents and myopic interests of government officials in keeping up the status quo as usual between the two states.

The author highlights the issue of Kashmir as a bone of contention between the two partitioned states by the British and gives a brief account of Kashmir conflict which has kept India and Pakistan occupied with various military showdowns unendingly. The author is of the view that the worst part of having antagonistic relations with a neighboring state is that it keeps the two nations occupied in debilitating colossal measure of assets over weapons contest.

The author respects a progression of certainty building measures as a splendid beam of light throughout the entire existence of the two states which remained covered in pitch obscurity for more often than not during the past.

Each time the exchanges appeared clearing a path out of long passage, the harmony endeavors were seized by the spoilers. The writer provides its readers to discover a response to appropriate inquiries, for example, how and why CBMs got dubious; how, when and why a few chances to determine the contention were missed; and what could be the way forward.

In the on-going tense circumstance among India and Pakistan, I request all the students of Peace and Conflict studies and International relations to read this book as it will help them to develop a better understanding of the issues which are causing an imbalance in the South Asian region, a region that is a key to global peace and security. 

Towards the end, the writer proposes progression of CBMs and underscores for the two states to step down from their official positions and start concentrating on their real interests and dealing with the unending mistrust which has remained a major hurdle to prospects of peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia. The book winds up with a message that the two states need to ponder goals of Kashmir issue as it isn’t only an issue over a disputed territory rather it is to a greater degree a humanitarian issue which needs to be addressed. This book is a good read and recommended to be included in academic syllabus at different universities in Departments of International Relations, History and Peace and Conflict Studies.

Submitted by Ijaz Qamar Kiani.

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