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Author: Amarjit Singh Dulat
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789351770664
Kashmir was an issue close to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s heart. There were repeated setbacks, first the Kargil war, General Pervez Musharraf’s coup in Pakistan, the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC 814 in December 1999 and the Parliament attack two years later. But he countered each with an initiative full of hope: the bus to Lahore in 1999, the Agra Summit in 2001 and finally the ‘hand of friendship’ extended to Pakistan in Srinagar in May 2003.
There comes a day in one's life when one feels it should all be put down before memory fades. There are endless memories and I have carried a story with me for a long time.
Srinagar in the winter of 1989 was an eerie ghost town witnessing the beginnings of a war dance. The dam burst the night boys from the separatist JKLF group were freed in exchange for the release of Rubaiya Sayeed, the Union home minister's daughter. As Farooq Abdullah had predicted, the government's caving in emboldened many Kashmiris into thinking that azaadi was possible. 'The price we will have to pay' were Farooq's prophetic words. Killings were almost a daily occurrence. Bomb explosions and firings occurred not far from the chief minister's residence in the most secure zone. Gun-toting youth in trucks were seen close to the cantonment. Kashmiris believed that they were on the verge of liberation. A.S. Dulat, who was posted there, saw Intelligence Bureau colleagues being picked off one by one.
It was a long, slow haul to regaining control. From then to today, Dulat has had a continuous engagement with Kashmir. The initiatives launched by the Vajpayee government in power from 1998 to 2004 were the high point of this constant effort to keep balance in a delicate state. As Vajpayee said, Kashmir was a problem that had to be solved.
In this extraordinary memoir that reads like a thriller, Dulat gives a sweeping account of the difficulties, successes and near triumphs in the effort to bring back Kashmir from the brink. He shows the players, the politics, the strategies and the true intent and sheer ruthlessness of the meddlers from across the border. Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years paints an unforgettable portrait of politics in India's most beautiful but troubled state.
1. Cutting the Gordian knot
2. Kargil and the coup
3. Two hostage crises
4. Kashmir’s Mandela or Delhi’s Agent: Shabir Shah
5. Proxy Warrior
6. Tinker, Tailor, Hijacker, Spy
7. The Defector who Shook Pakistan
8. ‘This Movement is an Experiment and it will pass’:A.G. Lone
9. SPY vs. SPY
10. From cold war to high politics
11. Vajpayee chooses Omar
12. Vajpayee’s ‘Betrayal’ of Farooq Abdullah
13. War and Peace
14. Vajpayee’s last choice-mufti
15. The hardliner and the hurriyat
16. Manmohan Singh’s lost decade
17. The league of extraordinary gentlemen
18. Mainstreaming the future
About the Authors