Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s Reflections on Kashmir

By Nyla Ali Khan.

This book is a compendium of the speeches and interviews of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who reigned as Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir from 1948 to 1953, and who was a large presence on the political landscape of India for fifty years. The volume is designed to enable a student of South Asian politics, and the politics of Kashmir in particular, to analyze the ways in which experiences have been constructed historically and have changed overtime.

"In terms of physique Abdulla was a tall man — a towering personality 6 feet 4 inches in height — who stood out prominently amongst his peers and contemporaries. However the physical attributes defining this giant amongst men were also prominently reflected by the bigness of his heart, his deep intellect, his empathy for, and sensitivity to, the hurt and agony of the masses and, last but not least, his unwavering commitment to achieving his goal by not violating the lines of peace and decency.” (  December, 2017)


“An important collection of Sheikh Abdullah's speeches and correspondence, it provides solid evidence for the distinctiveness of Muslim political thought outside the Pakistan Movement, which has generally been dismissed either as inconsequential or entirely dependent on the Congress. The volume forces us to reconsider the dualistic narrative which has dominated India's modern history until the present.” (Faisal Devji, Reader in Indian History, University of Oxford, UK)


“This exceptional book should be taught at all institutions of higher learning in India and Pakistan, as it recuperates and reintroduces the erased voice of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the founding father of a pluralist and progressive Kashmiri nationalism. For the Pakistani readers, Khan’s book will provide a necessary and enlightening antidote to the often maligned and unjust representations of Sheikh Abdullah in the Pakistani media and historiography.” (Masood Ashraf Raja, Associate Professor of English, University of North Texas, USA)


“Nyla Khan had done vital service to our understanding of the plight of the Kashmiri people by putting together the writings and speeches of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. Sheikh Abdullah - decades after his death - remains an important voice for justice and peace in the region. Any observer of the region who ignores his words will fail to grasp the possibilities for Kashmir's future.” (Vijay Prashad, author of No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism)


“This book reflects Dr Nyla Ali Khan's meticulous intellectual engagement with the larger-than-life Kashmiri leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who was much more than a politician. Abdullah opened up the possibilities of imagining a different Kashmir than what the nationalism projects of India and Pakistan dictated. His speeches, letters and interviews explain why Kashmiri voices have been subsumed by jingoism in the subcontinent - to deflect and undermine the inclusive and pluralist Kashmiri identity. This is an invaluable resource for students, researchers and all those who wish to understand conflict ridden subcontinent and its elusive Paradise called Kashmir.” (Raza Rumi, author, journalist, and editor of Daily Times, Pakistan)


“This book is much more than a collection of "reflections" by Sheikh Abdullah: it provides a documentary foundation for a much fuller understanding of the Kashmir crisis today than could ever emerge from the current cacophony of partisan violence, repression, and propaganda. If a meaningful discussion of Article 370 of the Indian constitution ever resumes, this collection will provide a textual framework for its history, in which Sheikh Abdullah was surely the most thoughtful proponent of a solution to the still vexing and increasingly intractable problem of to how make the Government of India a caring custodian for the welfare and rights of all its citizens.” (Professor David Ludden, Chair of History, New York University, USA)


“Nyla Ali Khan’s record of publication stands in opposition to the erasure of Kashmiri history, and this latest and very welcome addition positions itself as a bridge between generations, preserving the writings of a role model for ‘pluralism in the face of divisive politics.’    As President of the South Asian Literary Association, I am impressed by this collection as a potential pedagogical tool in classes on the Partition, on border frictions, and contemporary nuances of nationhood and globalization.” (John C. Hawley, Professor, Santa Clara University, California, USA)


“Nyla Ali Khan’s Sheikh Abdullah’s reflections on Kashmir, passionately invokes Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as one of the original voices in the high stakes debate on the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own political future as an independent state.  Planned as a compendium of the Sheikh’s speeches from the 1930- to the 1970s, the book also functions, in effect, not just as the intellectual and political biography of one of the principal actors in the Kashmir issue, but also as a critical narrative that traces the origins of the “Kashmir issue” –its status as a disputed region claimed by both India and Pakistan over which three wars have been fought.” (Rajender Kaur, Associate Professor of English and Director of Graduate Program, William Paterson University, New Jersey, USA)


“This collection of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s speeches and letters is indeed an urgently needed work of recovering historical memory to resurrect the concept of Kashmiriyat, a species of cultural nationalism that recognizes and embraces the heterogeneity of the Kashmiri people in the cause of their right to self-determination. Guided by Professor Khan’s lucid and eloquent preface, that explains the genesis and exigency of this work, and her informative and illuminating introduction establishing the historical context within which the great Kashmiri leader’s words and ideas need to be understood and appreciated, the readers are presented with a treasure trove of political wisdom that seeks in its pluralistic approach not only ideological and cultural inclusiveness but also “unity among all socioeconomic classes of Jammu and Kashmir.” (Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, Georgia, USA)


“Dr. Nyla Ali Khan has written an important book that shows how one person can have a huge impact on the lives of millions of people.  She shares stories of her grandfather, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who worked tirelessly for social justice in his homeland of Kashmir & Jammu.  Among his many endeavors was the realization and promotion of universal rights for women. Abdullah also advocated for universal education in Kashmir. In that part of the world, both of these ideas were unheard of at that time: Abdullah began a civil disobedience movement. After reading Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s Reflections on Kashmir, I now have a better understanding of Kashmir’s complicated history.” (Michael Korenblit, Author of Until We Meet Again, and President of the Respect Diversity Foundation)


“Nyla Ali Khan’s book is a much-needed and praiseworthy effort to bring to light Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s speeches and interviews that most of us with interest in Jammu and Kashmir have forgotten or never heard of. For the younger generation, particularly Kashmiris and also Indians and Pakistanis, the book offers an insight into the thinking and intellect of a man who dominated the Kashmiri politics for years and also made his presence felt in the newly independent states of India and Pakistan. For Pakistani readers in particular, it presents an opportunity to have a fresh look at Sheikh Abdullah, who was much more than a pro-India politician as is widely believed in Pakistan. His advocacy of Kashmiri nationalism based on a pluralist and enlightened society is relevant even today when his people are struggling to preserve their identity and seek peace in their lives.” (Rahimullah Yusufzai, Resident Editor, The News International, Peshawar & correspondent BBC World)