About Portmir

Cultural Heritage

The Portmir Foundation is a UK based organisation that seeks to shed light on the cultural heritage of British-Paharis, an ethnic people whose roots originate in an area that spans Northern Pakistan and Kashmir State. A variety of labels can and have been used to describe them including “British-Kashmiri”, “British-Pakistani”, “British-Punjabi”, “Pothohari”, “Mirpuri”, “Pakistani-Mirpuri”, Pahari-Mirpuri” etc., etc. UK officials prefer the term British-Pakistani whilst those from within the community and committed to the independence of Kashmir State describe themselves as British-Kashmiris.  

Howsoever these labels are used and whatever the internal/external debates and discussions, regional, national, political and even academic, we are in fact speaking of an ethnic people with a shared cultural background. The one undeniable characteristic of that shared identity is the upland and mountainous terrain of the corresponding cultural sphere located on a frontier that links South Asia with Central Asia.  

The overwhelming majority of British-Paharis originate from Mirpur Division, Pakistan-administered-Kashmir and are currently estimated to comprise anywhere between 800 thousand to a million people. Following labour shortages in the UK in the wake of World War II, many ‘Pahari-Mirpuris’ migrated to Britan at the instigation of the British government and private industry. 

Almost seventy years in the United Kingdom, the descendants of these migratory pioneers (the majority of whom are third generation Britons) have become a settled people whose values and aspirations, hopes and concerns are now firmly part of mainstream British society. The history behind such population movements and the general history of the region have however hitherto been neglected for all sorts of reasons. The Portmir Foundation hopes to fill the corresponding void in our understanding and educate British-Paharis about their wonderful heritage. 

Social Agenda Issues

We also operate in the voluntary sector at both community and national level and are committed to tackling issues of social and economic deprivation. Our ethos is very much geared towards community empowerment and civic engagement and so we ultimately place ‘individuals’ at the heart of our work.

We believe that in empowering our communities, we are in fact empowering individuals and families. The coherence of a progressive society can only be maintained when individuals have internalised values that accord respect and dignity to others. Where we celebrate ‘diversity’ as the basis of our ethnic people’s existence in the UK we must necessarily harmonise differences within our own communities as a ‘positive’ value. 

We have therefore committed ourselves to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe its articles form part of our social contract with the British State and its peoples which is fundamental to ensuring a tolerant and liberal society.

In view of the fact that the Foundation was founded by members of the British-Pahári (Hilltonian) community to improve its own social conditions as a UK-wide BME, does not in any way preclude members of other ethnicities or backgrounds from joining our associated membership. 

On the contrary we strongly encourage non British-Paháris to help us in our stated goals. We believe this will strengthen a nationally-felt resolve for social cohesion and offer tangible outcomes.

The coinage of the term Portmir is the juxtaposition of the abbreviated words 'Port' (from 'portal') and ‘Mir'’ (from 'Mirpur') to form the word 'Portmir'.

© Copyright 2013 Portmir Foundation

All Rights Reserved

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