The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir
Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is that part of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan, separated by a Line of Control from Indian territory. This book is a rarity: it offers a fresh interpretive history of the largely forgotten four million people of Azad Kashmir. The author contends that in October 1947, pro-Pakistan Muslims in south-western J&K instigated the Kashmir dispute—not Pashtun tribesmen invading from Pakistan, as India has consistently claimed. Later called Azad Kashmiris, these people, Snedden argues, are legitimate stakeholders in an unresolved dispute. He provides comprehensive new information that critically examines Azad Kashmir’s administration, economy, political system, and its subordinate relationship with Pakistan. Azad Kashmiris considered their administration to be the only legitimate government in J&K and expected that it would rule after J&K was re-unified by a UN-supervised plebiscite. This poll has never been conducted and Azad Kashmir has effectively, if not yet legally, become a (dependent) part of Pakistan.
Long disenchanted with Islamabad, some Azad Kashmiris now favour independence for J&K, hoping that they may survive and prosper without recourse to either of their bigger neighbours.
Snedden concludes his book by assessing the various proposals to resolve Azad Kashmir’s international status and the broader Kashmir dispute.
Christopher Snedden is an Australian politico-strategic analyst, author and academic specialising in South Asia. He has worked with government, business and universities; currently, he is working as a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii. He has visited J&K frequently to undertake research and has interviewed many elder statesmen involved in the Kashmir dispute.
‘With his profound expertise in and concern for Kashmir, Christopher Snedden succeeds splendidly in his task of giving voice to an untold story. This is the most authoritative modern history of one of South Asia’s most sensitive yet overlooked regions, the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control. It is meticulously researched and clearly written, and the account of the origins of the Kashmir conflict, while certainly controversial, demands attention.’ — Andrew Whitehead, former BBC South Asia correspondent and the author of A Mission in Kashmir
‘Christopher Snedden’s masterful historical narrative of the events surrounding the birth and development of Azad Kashmir gives us, at last, a thoroughly-researched study of this largely neglected but vastly important dimension of the Kashmir dispute. Provocative in its arguments, sound in its scholarship, and fascinating in its details, this is a truly welcome addition to the literature on one of the world’s most intractable disputes.’ – Robert G. Wirsing, Visiting Professor, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service at Qatar
‘This is a gripping and compelling read. Azad Kashmir has largely been out of focus in discussions of the broader Kashmir conflict, particularly in international discourse. Few people have devoted much time and energy to bringing into focus the ground realities, contemporary issues and context of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This book will fill the gap, as well as provide a lead for Azad Kashmiri writers to supply the missing native perspective on Azad Kashmir.’ — Ershad Mahmud, author and analyst from Rawalakot-Azad Kashmir
‘Focusing on the Poonch rebellion, this book highlights an important facet of developments in Jammu and Kashmir prior to its accession to India and fills the vacuum in scholarship on politics in “Azad Kashmir.” A valuable resource for academics and policy makers alike.’ — Smruti S Pattanaik, South Asia Specialist at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Delhi
‘Whilst political developments in vale of Kashmir have attracted a great deal of attention, those in Azad Kashmir – the narrow slice of territory lying between the Pir Panjal mountains and the river Jhelum which fell into Pakistan’s hands as the result of a successful local insurgency – have attracted much less scholarly attention. In an incisive analysis of the tangled political developments in this hastily constructed and ethnically diverse semi-state Snedden throws new light on developments in a relatively remote but nevertheless increasingly strategically significant component of the sub-continent’s political jigsaw.’ — Roger Ballard, Centre for Applied South Asian Studies.
‘The majority of scholarship on Jammu and Kashmir in the last six-decades has remained unidimensional, thus ignoring the complex political dynamics rooted in the multi ethnic, linguistic and religious landscape of Jammu and Kashmir. Snedden’s work is in line with a new wave of scholarship on the region which helps the policy makers and a general reader to know and understand some key aspects of one of the most complex political puzzles of South Asia from a more holistic perspective.’ — Luv Puri, author of Across the Line of Control: Inside Azad Kashmir
‘There are few books that prove as illuminating as this excellent tome. [It] is rich in detail, balanced in its analytical approach and comprehensive in its description of events and outcomes. It uses interviews with key actors in the region to discuss the present situation, as well as previously unavailable official letters and documents to provide deeper insights into the past. … [It is ] likely to be of tremendous value to historians of the region as well as sociologists and political scientists exploring the important developments in Azad Kashmir from the time of partition to the present.’ — e-International Relations
‘This book is empirically rich and employs an analytical approach. It is comprehensive in its description of events and outcomes … Christopher Snedden certainly brings out the untold story of a people who have thus far received very little scholarly attention.’ — Politics, Religion & Ideology