Curfewed Night: A Frontline Memoir of Life, Love and War in Kashmir by Basharat Peer - review by John Keay

John Keay

A People Apart

Curfewed Night: A Frontline Memoir of Life, Love and War in Kashmir

By

HarperPress 223pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

The people of Kashmir have generally suffered from a bad press. For the British sahibs who once flocked to the Himalayan valley to picnic beneath its glaciers, haul trout from its streams and slosh custard on the steamed puddings served aboard their rented houseboats, it was a mystery how Providence could have awarded such a paradise to so dismal a people. Though capable craftsmen, credible cooks and outrageous salesmen, Kashmiris were reckoned to be obsequious, quarrelsome, deceitful and excessively venal. They also seemed quite unembarrassed by their reputation for spinelessness. Among the subject peoples of the British Raj no race was rated less martial. A Kashmiri with a gun, if not a feeble joke, was an unforgivable liability. 

Following Independence and the partitioning of British India, both Indians and Pakistanis reached much the same conclusion. In 1947–8, with the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir now a bone of contention between the two successor nations, Pakistan lent its backing to an incursion into the valley

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