I was born and brought up in Jodhpur, a place in India that shares a close proximity to the Pakistani border. Since it is also an Army – Airforce base, I grew up amongst a crowd that would often discuss politics, wars, at the heart of it – Pakistan, and our skewed ties with this brother from the same mother. And so when a book promised me an insider’s analysis into the Indo – Pak issue, I just lunged for it.
The book is a sad reminder that the partition was a man-made disaster, where millions suffered and are still suffering due to the arbitrary and selfish decisions of a few. For eg. back in London, a man who was considered a vain, manipulative and a hopeless military strategist with little or no regards to human lives – Lord Mountbatten – was appointed as the Viceroy to India. Another example is the drawing of the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan by Radcliffe, who completed his work of dividing the two countries in just 36 days. The man had never visited India before, knew no Indian languages and had absolutely no clue about its geo-cultural diversity!
This and many such other examples, stories, evidences is what this book is made up of. From the pre-partition days till now, this is a well researched book that talks of all the major wars, the Kashmir issue, Article 370, the US-Soviet-Afgan-Pakistan-Bangladesh issues faced by India, character sketches of Jinnah, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Pakistan army generals – Zia, Ayub,Musharraf, also often describing how Pakistan has now become a nuclear state, thus becoming a country dreaded by all the other nations.
Though it is not a comforting/hopeful read, it does enlighten the reader on the blood smeared partition and wretched history both the countries share.
Quoting a Part:
Between December 1921 and August 1942, Jawaharlal Nehru went to jail 9 times, spending 3262 days there, or about 9 years. Then from August 1942 to June 1945 he was jailed for another 1040 days. Therefore, altogether, he spent nearly half of that 24 year period in jail. So did many of the other congress leaders.
In contrast, Jinnah didn’t spend a single day in jail.
– Chapter 5 : A Divisive Agenda