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)
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.