For Kash­miri Free­dom

Ti­tle: Au­thor: Pub­lisher: Pages: Price: ISBN: Be­tween Democ­racy and Nation - Gen­der and Mil­i­ta­riza­tion in Kashmir Seema Kazi Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, Pak­istan, (July, 2010) 252 pages, Pa­per­back PKR. 695 9780195478358 (For sale in Pak­istan only)

Southasia - - Book review - Re­viewed by Kinza Mujeeb

Evo­lu­tion, a con­stant process, has not only changed the ge­o­graph­i­cal face of earth but has also al­tered the na­ture of hu­mans. It has made them more ag­gres­sive and they have sharp­ened their ma­nip­u­la­tive abil­i­ties to de­vise skill­ful ways of mak­ing wide­spread vi­o­lence in or­der to le­git­imize their il­le­git­i­mate ac­tions.

The book un­der re­view is ‘ Be­tween Democ­racy and Nation’, where the au­thor, Seema Kazi, has not only given a de­tailed anal­y­sis of the trans­for­ma­tion of the na­ture of war but also of its bru­tal ram­i­fi­ca­tions, which are pre­dom­i­nantly ev­i­dent in Kashmir. The book is di­vided into five chap­ters, al­low­ing the au­thor to grad­u­ally de­velop her ideas, pro­vid­ing the read­ers with rea­sons for the di­verse forms and vary­ing in­ten­si­ties of trauma suf­fered by the Kash­miris, due to wide­spread vi­o­lence that has pierced the en­tire fab­ric of the Kash­miri so­ci­ety.

Seema Kazi has main­tained that, un­like the west, the mil­i­tary con­sol­i­da­tion in the global south, has de­fied its para­mount pur­pose, as it has not stemmed from ex­ter­nal mil­i­tary threats. It rather sym­bol­izes the nation’s de­sire to join the race of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing weapons. And that, in turn, im­parts it a sense of su­pe­ri­or­ity and a look of ‘moder­nity’. More­over, many states have adopted the idea of abus­ing mil­i­tary power by em­ploy­ing it as an in­stru­ment of ‘do­mes­tic re­pres­sion’. This is ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing in Kashmir. This has in­volved mas­sive so­cial dis­tur­bance and vio- lence to a vast ex­tent.

The au­thor in­dulges in an ex­haus­tive ar­gu­men­ta­tion re­gard­ing the apt­ness of the term ‘mil­i­ta­riza­tion’ over ‘mil­i­tarism’. Mil­i­tarism mainly re­volves around re­spon­si­bil­i­ties associated with mil­i­tary such as ‘ex­ter­nal de­fense’. But when mil­i­tary out­stretches its area of ac­tiv­ity to at­tain ‘po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tives’ it can no longer be re­ferred to as mil­i­tarism. Mil­i­tarism en­com­passes only mil­i­tary-based val­ues and ideas, while ex­clud­ing its so­cial con­text.

On the other hand, ‘mil­i­ta­riza­tion’, seems to be a valid term for what is hap­pen­ing in Kashmir, as it al­lows the anal­y­sis of the ‘in­ter­con­nec­tions’ found be­tween so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nom­i­cal and cul­tural fac­tors.

Next, she aims to ex­pose the para­dox­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in which In­dia is placed. On the one hand, it wants to pro­ject an im­age for it­self which shows it as a lib­eral, pro­gres­sive and de­vel­op­ing coun­try. On the other hand, the mil­i­ta­riza­tion in Assam in the north-east­ern re­gion and in Kashmir, paint it as a re­pres­sive state.

The au­thor in­ves­ti­gates the de­gree of truth in In­dia’s claim that democ­racy and hu­man rights have been guar­an­teed to Kash­miri cit­i­zens. She ar­rives at the con­clu­sion that in re­al­ity, In­dia aims to en­tirely de­prive them of these very rights. Mil­i­ta­riza­tion in Kashmir has crip­pled the in­di­vid­ual as well as the so­ci­ety phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. How­ever, they have not lost their will to fight back. But their strug­gle to win free­dom and hu­man rights is cun­ningly branded by In­dia as a ‘Pak­istan-led ter­ror­ist in­sur­gency’.

Rather than ‘adding’ women, she aims to protest against the ‘pub­licpri­vate di­chotomies’ that cat­e­go­rizes mil­i­ta­riza­tion as an un­mis­tak­ably male af­fair. She em­pha­sizes the fact that pat­terns of gen­der vi­o­lence such as rape and sex­ual abuse are in­trin­sic to mil­i­ta­riza­tion.

The au­thor also dis­cusses the an­tithe­sis be­tween the women’s role in the strug­gle for azadi (free­dom) and their mar­ginal sta­tus in pol­i­tics. Women are in the fore­front as far as bear­ing the bru­tal­ity and bar­barism of the In­dian armed forces is con­cerned. But in pol­i­tics, the de­spair­ing re­al­ity is that they stand marginal­ized.

Even though she does not ap­prove of some as­pects of Marx­ism and the Lib­eral and Fem­i­nist move­ments, she has dis­cussed them metic­u­lously en­abling the read­ers to form their own views.

Al­though her points are log­i­cal and well re­searched, the round about way of ex­press­ing her thoughts of­ten not only gives way to am­bi­gu­ity but also to rep­e­ti­tion. This should have been avoided. Kinza Mujeeb is a jour­nal­ist and re­searcher at GEO.

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