In another first in collaboration between Pak-Indian elements, the Durrani-Dulat book has re-presented the undercurrents of the bilateral relationship between the estrange neighbours, with Kashmir at the epicenter, bringing into question India’s hostile stance towards its neighbour.
The book is mainly a series of discussions conducted between the two former adversaries on a range of topics where the authors counter preconceived ideas, conflicting perspectives and opposing viewpoints, attesting to how both sides have socially, politically and militarily defined themselves through the lens of opposition to each other, much to the detriment of a possible peaceful engagement.
Where both the authors are in imminent danger of coming under fire and be labelled whistle-blowers by conservative hawks back at home, the memoir of the two contemporaries should be commended for being a brave hand at brokering peace in the region. Where their former vocations and experiences command credibility, the fact that both of them had actively engaged in adversarial roles and placed their intrinsic differences aside to initiate dialogue between the disparate countries is a huge turning point in the course of the history of Pak-Indian relations. Where the idea might be disdained as idealistic and one that is oblivious to the more subversive political nuances, the concept of implementing a joint mechanism to address terrorism together through collaboration between the intelligence agencies is a step that needs to be advocated.
The book makes revolutionary strides in its acknowledgement of the policy of repression and violence in Kashmir, one that asserts the might of the occupying power over the people. Confirmed by the former spy chief, it calls for the rightful condemnation of the violence on both sides of the border, inviting support and assent from many quarters of the establishment and public in India, and bringing into question the recalcitrant and antagonistic stance adopted by Delhi that has stalled any headway towards reconciliation.
The book comes at a time of mounting opposition to the reign of Modi which requires the dialectic of advocating a peaceful and humanitarian approach in Kashmir. Notwithstanding the political machinations and motivations behind the reception of the book, the change in stance and acknowledgment of the current Indian establishment’s atrocity in India will go a long way in urging a change in Indian’s autocratic policies in occupied Kashmir and ultimately a bilateral relationship with Pakistan. With the two militaries planning a first joint participation in a multinational exercise against terrorism in Russia under the aegis of SCO and overtures at resuming talks, the time is ripe to make new strides in diplomatic and strategic fields in this relationship as envisaged by this book.