Take the room-temperature op-ed article that you have read lately, or may be reading now, or will scan in the future. Cast your eye down as far as the sentence that tells you there will be no terminus to Muslim discontent until there has been a solution to the problem of Palestine. Take any writing implement that comes to hand, strike out the word "Palestine," and insert "Kashmir." Then spend as much time as you can afford in elucidating the subject. And then … I was about to say "read this novel," but realized that I should instead recommend it as a means of motivating yourself to embark on the elucidation in the first place.
This may seem a banal and literal way in which to introduce a complex and intriguing work of fiction, but I make no excuse for it. Like Palestine, Kashmir used to be a part of the British Empire (and it is the setting for many of the better-wrought scenes in Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet). Like Palestine, it was subject to simultaneous independence and partition in the course of a British scuttle in 1947—1948. It is the only Muslim-majority state in India, and it has long been claimed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Several "conventional" wars have been fought over it, and "unconventional" guerrilla and counterguerrilla warfare has been in progress for decades, and it has more than once been the occasion for a short-fuse nuclear confrontation. If anything calamitous in the thermonuclear line does occur in the next few years, it is most probable that Kashmir will be the trigger. Moreover, it was the lakes and valleys and mountains of Kashmir that made the crucible in which the Pakistan—Taliban—al-Qaeda "faith-based" alliance was originally formed. The bitterest and longest battle between Islamic jihad and its foes is a struggle not between jihad and the West, or jihad and the Jews, but between jihad and Hindu/secular India. It is a matter not of East versus West but of East versus East.