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January 08 , 2008

Making Peace With Partition


The Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 left a legacy of hostility and bitterness that has bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan for over fifty-five years. The two countries, both nuclear powers now, have fought three wars since Independence and have twice come to the brink of war in recent years. Each of their attempts to make peace has failed, and each failure has added a new layer of anger and mistrust to existing animosities. So what will it take for India and Pakistan to put the long shadows of Partition behind them, once and for all? Reviewing the turbulent history of their past relationship, Radha Kumar analyses the chief obstacles the two countries face and looks afresh, in particular, at the Kashmir conflict, in the light of the new opportunities and challenges that the twenty-first century presents. Kumar’s comparisons with partition-related peace processes in Bosnia, Ireland, Cyprus and Israel-Palestine offer a radically different perspective on the prospects for peace between India and Pakistan, and illuminate the key elements that go into a successful peace process. Lucid, incisive and optimistic, Radha Kumar’s essay, written at a time when a new peace process between India and Pakistan has begun to unfold, challenges received wisdom as it argues persuasively that the South Asian neighbours are today better placed to make peace than ever before.
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