State of Jammu & Kashmir

The Colonial Legacy and its Political Fallout

Mirpur within the Context of Jammu & Kashmir; 

The Political Map

The Division of Mirpur forms part of the erstwhile Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir and in strict constitutional terms is not territorially a region of Pakistan. On this account, Mirpuris are not Pakistanis but rather ‘State Subjects' of the 'liberated areas' ("Azad Riyasat") of Jammu & Kashmir’ ("AJK"). This position has been affirmed, albeit retrospectively, in accordance with the provisions of the polity’s interim constitution, one drafted and enforced by Pakistan in 1974. The inclusion of the term 'state subject' ('riyasati') to apply to the nationals of 'AJK' has historical precedent and has been incorporated from the legal pronouncements of the State's erstwhile Government in 1927 that defined, in strict legal terms, various categories of people who had rights to reside, work or own property within the State's territory, (see Notification No I-L/84, 20/04/1927). We recount such provisions in full in the Appendix. Aside from the archaic nature of the language used in the actual coinage of the term 'state subject' which can only be understood within its proper historical context (subjects of a colonial polity as opposed to free citizens of a territory that obtains its sovereignty from the mandate of its people), it removes any ambiguities that we are in fact dealing with a national polity that has the underpinnings of its own sovereignty however curtailed today. 

So what does this mean in concrete terms? Put simply this means that Mirpuris along with other 'State Subjects' of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (AJK) are in a very real sense 'stateless'Pakistan has not formally annexed 'Azad' Jammu & Kashmir to make it a Province on equal terms with its other Provinces. Rather, it officially maintains that the 'state subjects' of 'AJK' will decide their own status in a forthcoming plebiscite, to either become part of India or formally Pakistan whilst effectively denying pro-independence or pro-Indian actors any stake in the political affairs of the polity. This does not hold true for the 'state subjects' of Indian-administered-Kashmir who have been deemed to have already acceded to the Indian Union through their participation of elections, the majority of which according to numerous NGOs were rigged and fell short of democratic standards. India’s ‘Kashmir’ has thus been formally incorporated within the statehood of the Indian Republic and its inhabitants are Indian citizens. Pakistan-administered-Kashmir on the other hand has the semblence of an autonomy when in fact it is tightly controlled by the Ministery of Kashmir Affairs, an executive branch of Pakistan's federal government.

The Historical Context

Following the partition of British India, the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir was fought over by both India and Pakistan, dismembered and partitioned somewhat unequally. ‘Azad' Jammu and Kashmir’ or at least those ‘territories’ in the possession of Pakistan were constituted as the Successor State of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, a position rejected by India who claimed that its possession of lands associated with the Princely State were in fact the legitimate Successor State. Each contended that the other had merely usurped territory that didn't belong to it. On this account the label ‘Kashmir’ is nothing more than a national shorthand for 'territories' on either side of the LOC (Line of Control; the de facto border between India and Pakistan in ‘Kashmir’).

One should also be mindful of the fact that Pakistan has either sold or ceded (leased) some of its 'Kashmiri' 'administered lands (Shaksam Valley) to China contrary to its own stated narrative of administering these lands on behalf of the 'Kashmiri people'. Furthermore China has its own long running dispute with India over their respective borders, a hangover from the colonial era. China and India have fought one war in 1962 over Aksai Chin and a number of border skirmishes afterwards. Aksai Chin is presently administered by China with India continuing to maintain territorial claims to it. 

In total landmass, the entire undivided State of Jammu & Kashmir comprised of 86.772 square miles, (there are differing accounts as to the exact boundaries of the pre-partition State). Presently, India administers approximately 39.127 square miles or just under half of the historical polity's disputed landmass. Pakistan administers approximately 33.145 square miles or just over one third of the overall total. Unlike India and again contrary to its own stated goals, Pakistan has created two separate entities from its territorial stake, namely the Northern Areas (otherwise known as Gilgit Baltistan) which comprises the bulk of its territorial holdings at approximately 28.174 square miles and 'Azad Jammu & Kashmir' ('AJK'). The smaller of the two entities 'AJK' comprises no more than 5.134 square miles. It nonetheless has a much larger population than Gilgit Baltistan and historically the various independent Hill Tracts that formed part of the Princely State had sustained ancient and medieval links to the Valley and neighbouring Hill Kingdoms. China administers approximately 14.500 square miles of the erstwhile State’s territory and is content with the status quo.

Any settlement of the Kashmir Conflict ('Maslah-e-Kashmir') will thus necessitate by default addressing the territorial dismemberment of the State, parts of which have been voluntarily given away for diplomatic support whilst others have been forcibly occupied. India has thus shown a greater degree of faithfulness in its position on the territorial integrity of the State than Pakistan, which has had no legal justification in either selling or ceding parts of ‘Kashmir’ to China or annexing Gilgit Baltistan all the while maintaining that the greatly reduced but 'Azad' entity, little more than a slither of land, (substantially smaller than the lands occupied by China), is its administered stake for the purposes of any hypothetical settlement.

The Label 'Kashmir'

Whatever this quagmire, there is an altogether practical problem with the 'shorthand' employed to incorporate all these lands and their associated peoples into a uniform coherent national label. Withstanding the fact that the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir existed as a sovereign territorial entity (albeit with colonial underpinnings) and its inhabitants were in national terms considered ‘state subjects’, the shorthand that emerged in English circles as a blanket label for all the peoples of the State has become one exclusively coveted by ethnic Kashmiris, particularly those of the Hindu Pandit community that self-ascribes through a cultural-dialectic centered on the Valley of Kashmir. These caste-based Brahmans were forced to leave their homes following the violent insurgency of the late eighties. They are currently living in Jammu Province as internally displaced refugees and in other States of India. They have consistently mobilised around a litany of grievances against the State Government of Indian-administered-Kashmir and the Federal Government of India in New Delhi.

The Political Narrative; skewed analysis

These developments have increasingly shaped a misleadingly nuanced debate on the Kashmir conflict that seeks to appropriate the legacy of the entire State through the experiences of the Valley Kashmiris, particularly through the vantage point of the Hindu Pandits. Historically, the Valley's Hindu population benefited immeasurably as an educated bureaucratic class with a monopoly over the State’s feudal-like institutions. Successive Maharajas were reliant on this substratum for the effective upkeep of the State’s governance begrudgingly given the limited literacy of their own Hindu Dogra population. From the State's inception in 1846 until its eventual dismemberment in 1947 tension existed between the feudatory masters of the State and this clearly identifiable class who shared similar religious convictions to make them natural allies in the first place. 

Much of the State’s written history has the imprint of this class. Colonial administrators relied heavily on their Brahman counterparts to narrate the history of the State’s various peoples and one can easily sense the underlying biases that helped shape that history. The myth that ‘Kashmiris’ were, for example, the fairest of all ‘Indian races’ (on account of being 'Brahmans') owes much to this narrative as does similar claims that they were weak, cowardly and innately prone to connivance and plots for their own betterment. Similar claims were made for Rajput and Jat caste-groupings and one would also read of, for example, 'Punjabis' being the most fairest, tallest and manliest of all Indian races, again on account of their caste-backgrounds as Jats, Rajputs (or Khatris). They too were presented with negative dispositional characteristics, their much celebrated strength and courage was contrasted with their innate qualities of being unintelligent, 'simple and 'child-like', prone to anger, and being essentially susceptible to manipulation. These prejudices have remarkably outlived the colonial enterprise that sadly bequeathed such notions to India in the first place. Publishing houses in Delhi continue to print editions of colonial works and on internet forums one will come across dilettantes spurting out such nonsense. In the West these ideas are seen for what they are, the allegedly ‘scientific’ mumbo-jumbo of ‘pseudo-experts’ but in Indian circles, these views are still pervasive.

In any case Jammu & Kashmir is a union of lands and peoples, its borders were finally fixed during the last decades of the 19th century through British negotiations with their Afghan and Russian counterparts. These were the years of imperial interests and colonial priorities. The emergence of the Princely State although engineered by the British with an ostensible fabricated quality, its territorial boundares were however shaped in one form or another by earlier conquests of the very same regions by other ambitious rulers. In modern history this has included the Mughals (1586 CE - 1752), the Afghan Durrani Empire (1752 - 1819) and the Sikh Confederacy (1819 - 1846). Its territorial borders were thus heavily influenced by these legacies that predate the British Indian Empire by centuries. It was only during the reign of the Dogra Raj, (1846 CE – 1947 CE) that some of the lands previously conquered by the Sikhs were formally ceded to the Dogra Raja of Jammu, namely Ghulab Singh through the machinations of the British. Up until the point of his meteoric rise, Ghulab Singh was a military agent of the Sikh Confederacy, an extremely far-sighted General with independent ambitions of his own. 

The inhabitants of this territory now constituted as the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir were grouped together in the common parlance of an English shorthand and were referred to thereafter as ‘Kashmiris’ in English-speaking circles. This label today has universal application. Prior to this point, self-ascriptions of the people themselves derived in the main from caste or tribal based lineages, a reality that was quite pervasive throughout the subcontinent not least in the Valley of Kashmir. 

The Maharaja's 'Territories'

Internally the Princely State (or Native State) of Jammu and Kashmir comprised culturally heterogeneous regions, each with its own cultural legacy. The terms ‘Jammu’ and ‘Kashmir’ were purely territorial constructs which within the context of the Treaty of Transfer between the British and Ghulab Singh (16th March 1846) referred to two newly-conceived administrative entities (constituents) of the new State. The ancient principalities of both respective namesakes were considerably smaller.

Article One of the Treaty merely stipulated the transfer of such lands as “all the hilly or mountainous country with its dependencies situated to the eastward of the River Indus and the westward of the River Ravi including Chamba and excluding Lahul, being part of the territories ceded to the British Government by the Lahore State…” Some of these ‘territories’ were already in Ghulab Singh’s possession as ‘jagirs’, (feudatory grants) given the traditional power-sharing arrangements utilised by the Sikh Confederacy. Following the defeat of the Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh War of 1846, lands north of the Punjab Plains that included the Hill Tracts, the Hazara Hills and the Valley of Kashmir were ceded to the British following the inability of the former to pay the required war-indemnity of 1.5 million Rupees (Nanak Shahi; the currency of the Sikh State). These lands were then subsequently sold to Ghulab Singh for 750 thousand Rupees. The sale had merely conferred upon him territorial sovereignty and titles whist the British retained overall sovereignty through their policy of British Paramouncty over the entire subcontinent as personified symbolically in the Empire's Regent. All subordinate 'Indian' rulers (Rajas, Nawabs, etc) were thus formally known as Princes.

There was of course a third constituent entity of the State, namely the Frontier Province which also had its own distinct but corresponding cultural-spheres, most notably Ladakh. The region was conquered by Ghulab Singh through the efforts of his general Zorawar Singh in 1836 purportedly on behalf of the Sikh Confederacy. Its mention was however missing from the Princely State’s formal name given its general political insignificance, although historically it had formed the outer reaches of powerful Kingdoms centred on Tibet. It too however encompassed regions administratively outside its own cultural-sphere, namely Gilgit, formally an independent principality that was conquered by Sikh Forces in 1942 under its Muslim General Nathu Shah. Raja Ghulab Singh being the formal proprietor of these lands was thus subsequently known after the Treaty of Transfer as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. These collective lands were also known as the Kingdom of Jammu as they were more popularly known in Indic circles. 

In line with colonial policy, the caste-lineage of this newly consecrated Maharaja was embellished to confer upon him regal legitimacy. It was the view of the colonial masters, ostensibly constructed from the annals of Vedic history (taught initially through the agency of Brahman priests; note our earlier comment) that Rajput lineage-based tribes were the legitimate rulers of India. Ghulab Singh’s clan (Jamwal) however descended from a minor branch of a Hill Rajput tribe that lacked the supposed pedigree of the more mainstream tribes of the Plains. Colonial officers then set about reconstituting the ‘Jamwal’ clan’s pedigree. The ‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan’ by Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod (1782 CE –1835), could be seen in this light which otherwise is a highly romantic but warped view of Rajput clans. Incidentally Colonel Todd advocated alliances with Rajput tribes against their Mughal and Maratha adversaries which further helps shed light on the type of colonial policies the British pursued in the furtherance of their colonial goals. Vanquished Mughal Emperors during their ascendancy in the subcontinent had been no different and formed many alliances with Rajput tribes that were customarily solemnized through marriages.

Whatever the case Jammu was a town within the Dogra-cultural heartlands and it evolved to encompass regions outside its core lands some of which included Chibhal and Kishtwar; the conurbation around Mirpur for example fell within the territorial spaces of Chibhal that formed the eastern limits of the Pahari-cultural-sphere. Chibhal and Kishtwar were regions that historically had their own Hill Principalities governed by independent or semi-independent tribal (Rajput) chieftaincies, sometimes as vassals of more significant powers on the Gangetic Plains. Kishtwar to a much lesser extent was part of the same ethnic cultural-sphere centred on the Valley; Kishtwari for example was considered a dialect of the same language group to which the Kashmiri language belonged.

Geographically speaking and outside the context of the Princely State, the term ‘Kashmir’ in its primary etymological derivation strictly refers to the ‘Vale of Kashmir’ otherwise known as the Valley, an oval-shaped valley of comparatively low and flat plains approximately 84 miles in length and no more than 20 to 25 miles in width in certain places whilst being a lot wider in the northern areas that include Baramullah. As a proportion of the State which in its undivided totality (after its borders were fixed following the Durand agreement) comprised almost 86 thousand 772 square miles, the Vale comprised approximately just over 2 per cent of the entire land mass and a little under 2 thousand square miles. Where we measure the Valley from the summit of its mountains which form a ring around the plains we have an area of approximately 3900 square miles; the length comprising approximately 116 miles and its width varying anywhere between 40 and 75 miles. Aside from its geographical contours, the Valley like Jammu also subsumed other culturally heterogeneous regions in administrative terms and thus expanded beyond its traditional boundaries.

On this account one should clearly distinguish the Valley of Kashmir from the Subah (Division or Province) of Kashmir that encroached upon the Pahari-cultural-sphere westwardly. Again the town of Jammu should also be distinguished from the Subah of Jammu which similarly encroached upon the Pahari-cultural-sphere westwardly. One should not however read too much into the spaital limits of the Valley as a proportion of the State; its very large population of mostly destitute Muslims that became fodder for some of the worst exploitation ever experienced within the British Indian Empire militated against its small size. British colonial overtures to its Hindu-pundit population mediated through the Valley's breath-taking beauty and a colonial-dialectic that generated much by way of myths also raised the Valley's stake and is a handicap that continues to extend even into our modern age.

The Cultural Map

Where one to look at the various peoples of the State, each with its own cultural legacy, we can enumerate five broadly distinct cultural-spheres, each with a representative people and a primary location that served as the cultural capital of its own respective cultural-space.  These spheres were recognised by the Jammu Darbar well before the eventual partition of the subcontinent and the dismembering of the Princely State in its wake in 1947. 

It should be pointed out that the 5-tier demarcation that we present here for illustration purposes is not entirely correct. It is nonetheless useful in identifying the various 'ethnic' areas of the State within a political framework as much as a cultural anthropological one. Where you have much smaller populations of 'ethnic' people that do not neatly fit within this 5-tier categorisation, we have subsumed them within the more dominant grouping of their location as is the case with the Burusho people of Hunza, Nagar and Yasin Districts of Gligit. These communities identify strongly with the separatist movement in the Northern Areas and their social values are heavily influenced by the wider trajectory of their region. They have also historically interacted within the much wider cultural-sphere which we have taken the liberty of classifying as the Dardic-cultural-sphere or Gilgit Baltistan. 

This also holds true for the Gujjar and Bakarwal of the Jammu highlands, the latter still retain their semi-nomadic lifestyle, whilst the former are sedentary. Both of these communities can be classified as one distinct 'ethnic grouping' in its own right. For our purposes they have been subsumed within both the Pahari and Dogri cultural-spheres, speaking languages that are mutually intelligible to both Pahari and Dogri speakers. They share similar social values with those of their respective cultural-spheres and in the case of Indian-administered-Jammu, a Hindu majority area; the Gujjar and Bakarwals being entirely Muslim do not share the separatist agenda of their fellow Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir. They would very much like to remain part of the Indian Union.

1 Dogri-cultural-sphere (Jammu (town));

2 Koshiri-cultural-sphere (Kashmir Valley);

3 Dardic-cultural-sphere (Gilgit);

4 Ladakhi-cultural-sphere (Leh);

5 Pahari-cultural-sphere (Mirpur); 

We have already touched upon Kashmir and Jammu as representatives of two cultural-spheres. In ancient times 'Jammu' was known as ‘Duggardesh’ and was firmly fixated on the town of Jammu, although its cultural reach extended to the district of Kathua and surrounding areas. Outside the territorial limits of Jammu and Kashmir, the Duggar-cultural-sphere extended to the north easterly regions of Sialkot. Linguistically, the spoken language of Duggardesh was considered by earlier British linguists as a dialect of Punjabi or at least part of the language group spoken in the eastern regions of British Punjab. More recently some linguists contend that it constitutes a seperate branch in its own right although related to the wider group of Pujabi dialects. Locally people would also refer to this region as the Pahar and their language as Pahari, to capture the region’s hilly terrain as distinct from the Punjab Plains. From an identity-politics perspective, the peoples of Duggardesh consider themselves ethnically distinct from other Punjabi-speaking peoples that happen to occupy the eastern districts of the Punjab Province, feeling for example an affinity with the Pahari-speakers of the former Chibhal region. They also consider their language which is written in its own script to be an independent language distinct from the vernaculor standard of Majhi Punjabi but related to the Pahari dialects of the Hill Tracts.

It is absolutely important here that a distinction be made between the languages spoken in the Punjab (as a geographical region identified on such strict terms) with the evolving ‘ethnicity’ of the same namesake that had been conceived somewhat artificially on its eastern frontiers (Maajha) to encompass the culturally and linguistically divergent peoples of the entire geographical region. We will return to this critical point later. 

Gilgit Baltistan comprised another of the Princely State’s distinct cultural-spheres as did Ladakh with its Buddhist majority. The cultural-sphere of Gilgit Baltistan overlapped with that of Ladakh in its south easterly regions and here Muslim Balti speakers of Gilgit were of the same ethnic stock as the Ladakhis. The extent of the State’s sovereignty over Gilgit was for all practical purposes limited. Officials of the British Empire needed a buffer against possible Russian incursions and so were quite keen to administer this region themselves. Throughout the duration of the Princely State’s life, this arrangement proved contentious for Ghulab Singh’s descendants. It is on the strength of this history and the historical power-sharing arrangements between the British Empire (through its Political Agents) and the Princely State that successive governments in Pakistan have dismembered Gilgit-Baltistan from ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ with the explicit goal of annexing the region to Pakistan. Pakistan refers to these areas as the Northern Areas and they are outside the control of Azad Jammu & Kashmir’s supposedly autonomous government.

The peoples of Gilgit Baltistan today have mobilised to demand a complete break from Pakistan's exploitative political order. Pakistan's internal security services have also been blamed for engineering communal-conflicts that have resulted in the murder of thousands of Shias through the largess of Pakistani-funded Wahhabi militant outfits that target Shia shrines and religious establishments. The people of Gilgit Baltistan do not see themselves as being 'Kashmiris' either and advocate a more parochial-based regional agenda that transcends the considerations of an independent Kashmir State. The dominant separatist movement of the region, the Balawaristan National Front demands independence from Pakistan; the recent label 'Balawaristan' (allegedly one that has an historical origin) is used to designate the territories of Gilgit Baltistan, the inhabitants of this region are thus known as 'Balawars' (highlanders). The inhabitants of this region nonetheless have strong affinities with the peoples of both Pakistan and Indian administered 'Kashmir' and view their struggle against the Pakistani State within this much wider context. 

The fifth cultural-sphere within the specific context of the Princely State centred on the district of Mirpur, a Hill Principality that had emerged quite recently. Some of the Hill Principalities it encompassed were actually older than it. Four of the State’s fourteen districts, 3 in Jammu Subah and the fourth in Kashmir Subah were part of this cultural-sphere.  This region was known as the Pahari-Patwari Ilaqa as it encompassed considerable lands in the Pothohar Plateau and also the Hazara Hills; both of which were respectively annexed to the British Province of Punjab and the North West Frontier Province. Pakistani Officialdom refers to the Pothohar Plateau as the Pothohar Uplands given its hilly terrain and historically the region cohered alongside the Pahari-Ilaqah as a region quite distinct from the Punjab Plains. Linguistically the various dialects spoken within the Pahari-cultural-sphere, a designation used here to encompass the totality of the Pothohar Plateau, the Hazara Hills and the Pahari-Ilaqah of Jammu and Kashmir, notably the erstwhile districts of Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Mirpur and Riasi are part of the Northern Lahnda Dialect-Continuum. These dialects whether referred to as Hindko, Pothohari or Chibhali are closely related having descended from the same linguistic source and are not part of the eastern languages of the Punjab Province, most notably centred around the Majhi dialect. We will return to this point later.

In the strictest sense of the term, the official name of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is therefore misleading. It should not be lost on anyone that the State actually encompasses three administrative regions, namely Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, each of which bear an artificiality borne of the State’s emergence in line with its colonial underpinnings. In common parlance and hypothetically at least each of these three terms can be used interchangeably as shorthand to refer to the entire State; although evidently this has only applied to the terms ‘Jammu’ and ‘Kashmir’. Despite the spatial extent of Ladakh, the Province comprised well over 40.000 square miles, it had a tiny population centred on the cities of Leh and Kargil. Gilgit and contiguous regions had a much larger population but even these were significantly smaller than the populations of either of the two Provinces, Jammu and Kashmir. With the pre-eminence of the English language as the chief vernacular of discourse in international circles, the term ‘Kashmir’ has gained almost universal currency, despite the fact that the term ‘Jammu’ was used in Indic circles especially amongst those associated with the ‘Jammu’ Darbar (Royal Court).

Convenient Shorthand; Valley's Accidental Reification                

Undermining the State’s cultural ‘Other’ 

As is clear from this brief treatment of the terms ‘Jammu’ and ‘Kashmir’, we are dealing with political realities that transcend considerations of cultural anthropology. For educated observers committed to the Kashmir imbroglio, their understanding of the very complicated issues that have unfortunately reduced the individual legacies of the peoples of the State to an intractable conflict between India and Pakistan, has been informed within the disciplinary frameworks of political science. On this account, there are merely three enduring entities, Pakistan, India and Kashmir, the latter beholden to the former two.

There is of course a very serious intellectual handicap with such skewed analysis. The fact that neither India nor Pakistan are culturally homogenous themselves, should not be lost on anyone. Both India and Pakistan have their own culturally divergent peoples with recognised and preserved cultural legacies (a very critical point given the quagmire Mirpuris find themselves in), but in direct contradistinction to ‘Kashmir’ they nonetheless cohere within their own spaces as uniform national entities. The various ethnic groups of Pakistan aside from language movements demanding greater recognition, each have the right to use the national label ‘Pakistani’ given its unqualified civic connotations within the specific context of the two-nations theory which cannot be coveted exclusively by any one ethnic group in Pakistan. The same holds true for India, which unlike Pakistan has the benefit of a rich historical legacy that dates back many thousands of years and which can be deployed to underpin the connotations that cohere in any of its national labels. Constitutionally India has sought to term its territorial landmass as ‘Bharat’, the namesake of an extinct but ancient tribe that lived in North India. The term India on the other hand had historically been conveyed through the Greek rendition of its Persian cognate, historically coined by Persians to refer to the landmass easterly of the River Indus, despite the fact that the very peoples living on its banks were related to those living on its western banks. Critically no one ethnic group within India can lay an exclusive claim to the national labels of India either. 

It may be asked, why this is at all important?

Put simply, the subcontinent of India as a political entity and its eventual partition between the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India has historically never cohered as a uniform cultural or political space. The region as a whole is home to numerous divergent peoples bought together through the territorial ambitions of numerous Empires, some indigenous whilst the majority were foreign. Aside from a shared background in a distant past, one that should not be overstated given the heated controversy surrounding it, the peoples of India can roughly be divided into two camps, an Ancestral North Indian ('ANI') camp and an Ancestral South Indian ('ASI') camp. The former camp includes the majority population of Pakistan if not its entirety (where one considers the Brahui speakers of a Dravidian language typically associated with ASI to be ANI genetically-speaking). The inference is clear. Genetically speaking the populations of India can be grouped on the broad basis of their ancestral affinities, each corresponding to when they first entered the subcontinent. The remnants of these people either live in the North or the South, their movements having been influenced by subsequent events in history, all of which do not preclude significant amounts of admixture between the two. That said, the broad classification still holds true for the current genetic data is proof enough of the distinct genetic lineages.  

Aside from this broad unity that dates back to 3 and half thousand years for the ANI (otherwise known as Indo-Aryans chiefly on the basis of the Indo-European languages they speak) and approximately 6 thousand years for the ASI (otherwise known as Dravidians), there is considerable divergence internally between the two populations, perhaps akin to the cultural heterogeneity of Europe. There has also been further admixture in the North West of the subcontinent within the area that forms part of the Pahari-cultural-sphere that would complicate a simple bifurcation between ANI and ASI given the subsequent peopling of the region 1000 CE onwards by Turko-Persion forces, however as a general rule of thumb it nonetheless applies as the canvass upon which the general history of the region has been mapping out ever since. 

Pakistan for example is home to numerous ethnicities, Baluchi, Sindhi, Pukhtoon and Punjabi. These ethnic groupings are not autochthonous by any stretch of the imagination although popular depictions leave people with distorted and romantic notions of what is actually implied by the various ethnic labels. By far ‘Punjabis’ or at least those living on the banks of the five rivers have been quite late comparable to other Indo-Aryan linguistic groupings in developing an ethnic identity and even then the entire geographical region has been submerged within an ethnic identity-dialectic that materialised on its most easterly plains. On this token a descriptive geographical identification has given way to an ethno-linguistic designation somewhat incorrectly. 

Linguistically, a completely independent dialect-continuum, namely the Lahnda (fem. Lahndi) dialect-continuum with two distinct branches traditionally spoken in the western regions of this river system has been subsumed within the ‘Punjabi’ linguistic label. Whatever the handicaps of the term Lahnda, we are using it here strictly for convenience given the earliest debates on the language. Those committed to a wider Punjabi identity contend that dialects of Lahnda are in fact dialects of Punjabi, which is chiefly conceived as the standard vernacular historically spoken in Eastern Punjab (Maajha), most notably in the regions of Lahore, Sialkot and Gujranwala, a tiny region compared to the remainder of the Punjab Province in Pakistan. The rest of erstwhile Eastern Punjab on the other hand was subsumed within the territorial boundaries of India, who further reconfigured the region into 3 provinces, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The much reduced Indian ‘Punjab’ State of the historical namesake with its demographic Sikh majority now continues to form part of the ‘Majhi’ cultural and linguistic sphere. The chief difference between the Maajha of Pakistan and India today is that in the case of the former, it is overwhelmingly Muslim whilst the latter has a majority Sikh population. In cultural and linguistic terms, the Sikhs of Amritsar are very similar to the Muslims of Lahore.

The fact that the Majhi dialect of eastern Punjab (typically understood as the vernacular standard of Punjabi) has achieved its status as the most prestigious dialect of the ‘Punjabi’ language (on account of those who parrot this position) is probably due to its association with the Sikh Confederacy when such an identity began to crystallise although the germination of this phenomenon predated it by decades. The underlying dynamics behind this process however have not been understood properly and have unfortunately given way to the erroneous belief that the dialects of a completely independent but related language (both northern and southern Lahnda) are thus the dialects of the language now spoken in the eastern regions of Punjab. The fact that peoples of North Western Punjab (Pakistan) do not consider themselves speakers of the Lahnda language is proof enough that the emergence of a wider linguistic identity in the Punjab is fairly recent. British linguists were aware that such linguistic communities did not view themselves as ‘Punjabis’ either and in the absence of any linguistic self-designations, invented or borrowed a geographical term to label them. Caste-based lineages were however the overriding identities here given the settlement activities of those who came more recently into this region from Central Asia. The term ‘Lahnda’ was thus coined by the late linguist George A. Grierson (1851 – 1941), the chief editor of the Linguistic Survey of India (1894 - 1928). In other words, had the peoples of this region viewed themselves as ‘Punjabis’, there would have been no impetus to coin an absolutely novel term to categorise the various dialects they were speaking. 

The north westerly areas of the Punjab are very different to its south easterly regions and have been home to numerous settler peoples. The Pahari-cultural-sphere which falls within the broader north westerly regions of the subcontinent's North West is thus one of the most hybridised places in the entire subcontinent of India. That said, the speakers of the various dialects of Lahnda nonetheless recognise their shared cultural and linguistic bonds, although as layers within regionally-based identities. Unfortunately, as we have already pointed out caste-based loyalties continue to dominate the region and the peoples here have been slow to develop a regional-based cultural identity outside the restrictive paradigms of their provincial regions. This should not however be overstated as the overwhelming linguistic and cultural commonalities that characterise the people across the Pahari-cultural-sphere are obvious even to the least attentive of observers. It comes as no surprise to learn that the various dialects of Northern Lahnda are routinely confused as being one and the same dialect by those not familiar with its various dialects.

And so why have we recounted these facts that may appear to be somewhat convoluted? Returning to the original purport of this paper, if these facts are understood correctly, it will explain the quagmire that Mirpuris have been forced to occupy.

'Unity in Diversity'; the Subcontinent Paradigm

The fact that India and Pakistan have constituent communities that each belongs to its own cultural trajectories means that aside from issues of identity-politics that pities any number of linguistic or ethnic communities against the State, every one of its defined ‘ethnic’ or ‘linguistic’ peoples has a right to partake in its national labels. This cannot be said for the Pahari peoples of Jammu & Kashmir who have been denied any meaningful relationship with Pakistan given their region’s historical ties with the erstwhile State. On this token, it is simply incorrect to argue that they are Pakistanis (a territorial project based on an ideological fallacy) when in fact their region is awaiting the decision of a plebiscite that hypothetically will settle the ‘Kashmir conflict’ and which in all likelihood will never happen given the duplicitous nature of Pakistan’s dealing with Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. The fact that ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ has its own constitution and supposedly autonomous Government that has the right to fly its own national flag on all its state-run buildings means that Mirpuris (amongst other ‘Kashmiri’ regional communities) belong to a country that in some skewed sense has its own national memory that transcends the creation of Pakistan. 

Further Pakistan’s normative narrative on Kashmir is simply not congruent with the realities in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. Its supposed concern for the people is nothing more than a practical reliance on the region’s natural and human resources which belies any notions that it is sincere in giving the peoples here the right to self-determination, an otherwise suicidal position where Pakistan’s national interests are concerned. Pakistan is reliant on Mirpur’s water resources and has benefited immeasurably from Mirpur’s transnational links to the UK that have generated tens of billions of pounds worth of remittances. Worse still there is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan has exploited the region and has done so continuously without the slightest regard for the wellbeing of its people, in the full glare of international opprobrium.

Pakistan’s dealings with the Northern Areas that have been governed autocratically have also created in its wake reactionary politics where the peoples of this region demand a complete break from the status quo. For those in Azad Jammu & Kashmir this has meant independence and a future outside Pakistan’s patron-client political order. Aside from the fact that it is technically the case that Mirpuris for example belong to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and not Pakistan, it is the level of exploitation in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir that has resulted in the peoples of ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ calling themselves ‘Kashmiris’ in opposition to Pakistan. This self-ascription has nothing to do with ethnic nationalism.

Although this exploitation has occurred and continues to unfold unabated within Pakistan-administered-Kashmir where the primary victims of this exploitation live, the tempo of the resentment is increasingly being felt in diaspora communities. In Pakistan-administered-Kashmir Mirpuris very rarely come across individuals purporting a Valley-Kashmiri identity whom as we have already pointed out earlier, infuse the label with ethnic nuances that exclude other JK-based communities from its definition. In fact their interactions outside Mirpur are with Pakistanis south and westerly of the AJK border where ironically their ethnic kin live and work in places almost identical in cultural norms and values, be that Jhelum, Rawalpindi and regions more westerly and northerly. This holds true for those in Poonch and Muzaffarabad who again have sustained dealings and relationships with those in the Hazara Hills, again clearly demarcated regions of Pakistan. After all we are dealing with peoples of the same cultural heritage and had Pakistan not sealed its de facto border to the east, Paharis from Kotli and Bhimbar, Poonch and Muzaffarabad would similarly be interacting with their ethnic kin in the villages, towns and cities of Uri, Karnah, Rajouri, Nowshera, Akhnur and other places.  

The use of the Kashmiri label in these situations is a badge of protest (borne in the first instance from contentious interactions) outwardly at the exploitation they have been subjected to, real or imagined which without the remittances of their ethnic kin in Britain would reduce Mirpur to abject poverty. The contrast between Mirpur and the other regions of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir are stark, regions that have not benefited from diasporas in the West. Mirpuris are not by any stretch of the imagination ‘stupid’, they see the differences in transport infrastructure for example in the urban areas of Rawalpindi from that of their own regions in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. They are aware of the amount of electricity Mangla Dam generates for the rest of Pakistan. They are fully cognizant of the transatlantic connections to Britain that produces whatever little Mirpur has by way of ridiculously large and expensive Mansions, tucked away behind the blighted infrastructure of their towns. All these sacrifices for the Dam, hundreds of villages lost beneath its waters, entire communities dissipated and yet they have no electricity to power their air conditioning units! This irony does not leave anyone in Mirpur.

To contextualise these realities, in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir particularly in Mirpur, the people here are self-assured in their use of the term ‘Kashmiri’ on strictly nationalistic lines. The fact that they have not come across people who aggregate the term exclusively for themselves means they have no reason to test the efficacy of the label, to either reconsider its internal coherence or choose alternative labels. Again their interactions outside the boundaries of Azad Jammu & Kashmir are with ‘Pakistanis’ who are very keen to remind them that they are ‘Kashmiris’ and not ‘Pakistanis’. 

But in the UK, similar social realities follow different trajectories. Mirpuris here are interacting with a host of people who are quick to challenge their standard choice of labels. It must be understood that the choice of labels currently at the disposal of Mirpuris originates from a political framework; the fact that Mirpuris claim either to be Pakistani or Kashmiri has little to do with a sense of self and has more to do with their relationship with Pakistan. Although Pakistan is quite keen to remind them of India’s role in the conflict (as emotive as that may be), Mirpuris have only experienced direct exploitation from Pakistan and not India. The on-going turmoil in the Valley does not resonate with Mirpuris outside general disgust for India’s paramilitary security forces, sentiments that they would extend to other Muslim groupings around the world. It is Pakistan that seeks to exploit these sentiments to further a nationalistic agenda that cares little for the internal wellbeing of ‘Kashmiris’ on either side of the LOC. 

When one scrutinises the Pakistani funded and controlled ‘Jihadi’ outfits operating in the Valley, they are all headquartered in the Pakistan Province of Punjab, peopled by provincial Pakistanis whose religious beliefs and puritan practises are completely loathed by Mirpuris and other AJK-based communities. Their very Islam is at odds with the more accommodating Islam that has characterised life in the Pahari-cultural-sphere, an Islam that seeks inspiration from Sufis and not Mullahs, a 'devotional Islam' that finds its expression through attachment to Sufi shrines and holy personalities that are now being either desecrated or killed by Wahhabi fanatics everywhere. They are being murdered by the very radicals harnessed by Pakistan’s ISI to fight its ideological and military war against 'heathen India' under the misguided ploy of ‘universal jihad’.

In the UK these political and economic realities are nuanced in such a way that Mirpuris are caught-up between affirmation and negation vis-à-vis those who seek to socially ‘define’ and ‘appropriate’ the conflict from their own parochial vantage point. Mirpuris are of course stakeholders in this contested region but their investiture is generally ignored and peripheral to other platforms. When Mirpuris seek to affirm their own stake in this conflict by the use of ‘political’ labels that locates them within the region on the basis of their own political priorities, they confront the charge that they are imposters which at the conceptual level disenfranchises them from the conflict. They are thus disempowered to lay a claim to a problem that intimately affects them more so than any other people outside the boundaries of their region. 

In real terms this means confronting the charge that is constantly bandied about on the internet and in the living rooms of ordinary Pakistanis that they are either not Pakistanis by virtue of originating from Azad Jammu & Kashmir or they are not Kashmiris by virtue of being ethnic Punjabis. On the first account, the underlying assumption is correct given the 'constitutional' nuances associated with the ‘Pakistani’ label but only technically. The founding narrative of Pakistan is based on the two-nation theory, that Muslims and Hindus comprise two distinct nations, each with its own distinct legacy that should unfold within its own space. Aside from the egregious nature of the myth and its bogus ideological tenants, the consequences of the claim was the partition of the subcontinent on religious lines and the carnage of more than one million lives. On this account, the notion of ‘Pakistan’ is much more than the landmass constitutionally conceived of as Pakistan at any one point in history and so aside from the technical fact that Mirpur is not part of Pakistan it is the case that Mirpuris are Pakistanis by virtue of being Muslims per the ideological tenants of the two-nation theory within the context of British India.  

However there is little succour from this position given that more than half of Pakistan’s population ceded in 1971 to form its own nation on ethnic lines. The very fact of this reality belies the viability of the two-nation theory, rendering it impotent as a unifying force in an artificial nation of disparate people. The political order in Pakistan which is among the world’s most corrupt political systems only benefits elites that have directly benefited from the 'Pakistan Project', a project that erodes the rights of millions of people that live peripheral to the centre and who as a direct consequence have developed separatist agendas of their own despite being Muslims. Aside from its romantic appeal and its intrinsic worth as good ‘propaganda’ the two-nation theory has been systematically exposed as being untenable to unite Muslims in a nation where huge sacrifices were made to cross the bloodbath of partition lines. The fact that more Muslims have been killed by fellow Muslims than at the hands of non-Muslims in many parts of the world today is sufficient proof  that the claim is nothing more than a slogan that benefits Islamist ideologues. It is in fact, Wahhabi-sponsored organisations in Pakistan that kill both Sunnis and Shias, destroying their mosques and killing their congregants, even women and children, on the flimsiest of theological or 'takfeeri' pretences. Today Pakistan is awash with burnt corpses whilst buildings lay wasted from suicide missions that bizarrely even target schools and hospitals.

On the second account it is the case that Mirpuris are not ethnic Kashmiris where that term signifies a distinct ethnic people intimately associated with the Valley of Kashmir. This basic fact is not however contentious. Mirpuris have never claimed a Kashmiri identity on ethnic lines. To say otherwise is completely disingenuous and merely proves that the so-called ‘experts’ on this matter have no real expertise on the region they purport to understand. Their entire knowledge on Mirpur seems to have been channelled through a dialectic that submerges political priorities with cultural realities without the obvious realisation that each unfolds through its own trajectory. Mirpuri very aversion towards Pakistan that resulted in overtures towards a Kashmiri ‘identity’ is mediated through a political framework, its associated grievances revolve around exploitation of natural and human resources. It has nothing to do with creating a political narrative buttressed by ethnic nationalism. Mirpuris are fully aware that their ethnic kin intersperse the border between Pakistan and ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’, it is these interactions with other Pakistani-based communities that have resulted in Mirpuris affirming a national identity that transcends the Pakistan-Project. On a separate but related note, those who profess a ‘Kashmiri caste’ background in Mirpur are understood and socially valorised in those terms, they are distinguished from other more significant castes such as the Rajput and Jatt clans and are considered low-caste menials. This is not a figment of anyone’s imagination either. Kashmiri castes within the caste hierarchy of the Hill Tracts to which Mirpur belongs have no parity with the higher landed-castes here, wealthy Rajput or Jatt clans for example will not marry their offspring to percieved ‘menials’ (percieved by virtue of their occupational professions and their lack of supposed lineage-based pedigree). Aside from the terrible discriminatory practises that continue to characterise life in the subcontinent (caste prejudice is rampant in Pakistan), Rajputs in Mirpur for example would not substitute their clan backgrounds with a Kashmiri-based one. The fact that Mirpuris can distinguish ‘the Kashmiri caste’ (in terms of its characterisation in the Hill Tracts) is ample proof that Mirpuris are not seeking a Kashmiri identity outside its political appeals. The Kashmiri-caste background has no intrinsic value for most Mirpuris socially. 

In fact one can observe its debilitating effects in the actual movement or mobilisation for 'Kashmiri' liberation in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir and the UK. Leaders of the Plebiscite Front and its network of activists, for example, were drawn from the same caste-backgrounds and were related to one another. There is nothing unusual about this either and it is an unfortuante feature of party politics in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir where entire 'biraderis' (extended family clans) vote for the same candidates irrespective of their individual merits, proposed policies and political activism. The overriding factor here is tribalism, pure and simple. These tendencies have been exported to the UK and observers can see such dynamics at play in the investiture of political candidates in Mirpuri communities at local ward level. What is however shameful and a blight on the moral conscience of ordinary Mirpuris in the UK, is the extent caste-loyalities impact political mobilisation even detrimentally. According to Martian Sokefield and Marta Bolognani this is exactly what happened with the Plebiscite Front. Its leadership and cadre comprised of the 'Ansaris' who were fervent campaigners for an independent Kashmir, and of whose members, many had endured the cruel whip of Pakistani state persecution. They were unable to garnish grassroots support from other Mirpuris simply because they were identified as 'kammis', or 'low caste menials', in this case 'kasvis', a term used in the Hill Tracts to identify 'weavers' or anyone who works with fabrics. What our joint authors failed to mention was the fact that the Ansaris had putative roots in the Valley of Kashmir and self-ascribed on those very terms. 

Secondly, the underlying assumption that Mirpuri overtures to Valley Kashmiris is based on a denial of their own ethnic-Punjabi roots is based on an utter farcicality given that the original tenant that Mirpuris are ‘ethnic’ Punjabis is one that has not been convincingly made, today or historically, chiefly because Mirpuris do not see themselves as being ethnic ‘Punjabis’! 

However you assess the claim, the Punjabi link is one that strictly hinges on the exact ‘language’ spoken by Mirpuris and the region they inhabit but even here the alleged commonalities only extends between speakers of the Lahnda dialects. Whatever the linguistic arguments parroted by our so-called experts that merely connect AJK based communities to their ethnic kin in the Pothohar Uplands and the Hazara Hills, the Pahari-cultural-sphere is quite distinct from the one that has now assumed the ethnic Punjabi epithet centred on the Maaja region of East Punjab. From wedding customs to the names for certain foods, one can easily detect differences between the supposed 'Punjabis' of the Hazara Hills who speak Hindko with their alleged ethnic kin in Jalandhar, Indian State of Punjab. Even the alleged ‘mutual intelligibility’ of the various ‘Punjabi’ dialects is one fostered by ‘diglossia’, (two different languages or variants of the same language spoken in the space place) which can hardly be convincing proof that the Northern Lahnda dialects are in fact dialects of the same language that was also spoken on the eastern limits of British Punjab. But even then this alleged mutual-intelligibility is one-sided. Educated speakers of Chibhali (a dialect of Northern Lahnda) for example can understand Majhi given their interactions with such speakers, they can also speak Majhi in much the same way they can speak Urdu or Hindi. The reverse is not the case and merely captures the historical power-dynamics in the region that has led some to argue that Majhi is the standard-vernacular for the Punjabi language. It probably is for the eastern branch of languages spoken in British Punjab but this argument cannot be made for those dialects spoken in areas administratively configured as north western Punjab ('patwar') as they belong to an entirely different language-group. No one would dare hazard this claim for Urdu which is rightly recognised as an independent language from Punjabi whatever the commonalities in a shared but distant past. 

Sociolinguistically, it is absolutely the case that most Mirpuris do not extend their shared sense of ethnicity beyond their ethnic kin in the Pothohar Plateau southwardly to include for example the peoples of Lahore. But these shared bonds have today been eclipsed by the nationalist project of liberating ‘Kashmir’, ideologically rendered as a sovereign entity that historically had its own national legacy which today is coveted by India and Pakistan for political and economic reasons, each with its own founding narrative and ideological claims to the entire landmass of the erstwhile State. The priorities of those committed to this cause on either side of the LOC are quite different and influenced by different realities. Even their analysis on the purported coherence of this State is somewhat skewed to infuse the State with a legitimacy that could otherwise easily be debated; one cannot simply disentangle the colonial underpinnings of the State as a subordinate British entity from the wider dynamics that eventually led to the British withdrawal from the subcontinent

On this reckoning, Jammu & Kashmir should have either acceded to India or Pakistan and a dispassionate reading of that history, we believe, would have warranted the merger of the State with Pakistan given its contiguity with Pakistan and its Muslim demographic majority. The fact that the Maharaja eventually and under pressure chose accession to India means that Pakistan violated the terms of the partition plan – thenceforth a legal argument aside from issues of technicality that call into question the actual signing of the accession document. The fact that the Maharaja fled to India seems to be lost on those who make this claim given his locus standi in the matter. That said, Pakistan’s ill-conceived plan to force the Maharaja’s hand by sending in Afridi tribesman ‘to liberate the land’, many of whom became distracted by booty and pillage (which was perhaps their original intent) merely captures the course of Pakistan’s misguided trajectory, one that has ultimately bought the subcontinent deadly schisms and perturbing violence that doesn’t seem to abate anytime soon.

In any case it is a given that there has been a symbiotic breakdown in the actual construct of ‘Kashmir’ (as territorial shorthand) and its adjective ‘Kashmiri’ (as national label) particularly at the local level where sentiments and sensibilities inform people’s opinions. On this token, it is simply an affront to those claiming an exclusive ethnic Kashmiri identity that non-ethnic Kashmiris from the State are choosing to call themselves Kashmiris. Whether this denigrating characterisation has its origin in the local dynamics of the Punjab Plains, Pakistan where those maintaining a Valley-based Kashmiri identity snigger at Mirpuri claims to a Kashmiri identity whatever the nationalistic implications is debatable. Ostensibly and for all practical purposes Punjabi caste-based Kashmiris are themselves unable to speak Kashmiri and unable to partake in the cultural norms of the Valley and are themselves sniggered at by those who self-ascribe as the 'real Kashmiris'. The fact that the Kashmiri language itself has little social prestige among Valley Kashmiri is another reality little understood. Most upwardly mobile Valley Kashmiris prefer to converse in Urdu. The obsession with a Kashmiri-based identity for Punjabi 'Kashmiris' is borne of caste-dynamics in the Punjab; dynamics that disenfranchise those of menial occupations. Also, the supposed distinctiveness of Kashmiris as it manifests today must be understood within the context of the conflict where Valley Kashmiris have sufficient cause to rally against what they appear to be a tyrannical State. The sense of being 'different' has profound emotional appeal when the perceived oppressor is designated the 'other' despite these 'Kashmiris maintaining a link with the Jammuwal communities to the south who are themselves fervent supporters of the Indian Union and ethnically distinct. 

There is however some precedent for those who seek to limit the label to ethnic Kashmiris exclusively. They would argue that the other established communities’ of the State choose to articulate their belonging to the State primarily through their own ethnic labels. The Dogras of Jammu for example maintain an ethnic ‘Dogra’ identity as do the Shias of Kargil who happen to be Bodhi speakers of Ladakh; neither of which claim to be ‘Kashmiris’ even politically. Unfortunately these detractors are completely unaware of the power-dynamics that have shaped Pakistan’s relationship with Pakistan-administered-Kashmir which in both its entities, namely the Northern Areas and 'Azad' Jammu & Kashmir are completely removed from the Kashmiri-cultural-sphere centred on the Valley of Kashmir.

It matters little and somewhat paradoxically for such people that the term Kashmiri is being used as shorthand for the entire Princely State, realities that transcend a person’s innate sense of one’s own exclusivist ethnic claims. The fact that politicians, activists, intellectuals and even nationalistically-inspired Kashmiris from the Valley itself use this term in its strictly political sense does not curry succour for those who would like to limit its use for themselves. This is evidently the case with certain (allegedly) Hindu Pandit representatives of refugee status whose diatribes on the internet are nothing more than outright racism against other ethnic communities. The ‘Kashmiri’ national label has been accepted internationally as the basis of recognising the legitimate concerns and grievances of the divergent peoples of the entire State albeit as shorthand. 

Whatever the arguments and whatever the sentiments which in the latter instance seems to be on a crescendo, the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir is an arena of conflicting identities that historically cohered as a colonial entity. Critically modern texts recanting the history of the State have done so from the vantage point of the Valley, signalling out ethnic Kashmiris as the true sons of the soil despite the State vastly transcending the Valley. The various cultural-spheres enumerated here are all indigenous to the Princely State and so textbooks on the State should be cognizant of all the State’s peoples. 

The fact that neither India nor Pakistan seeks to dismember the State, each laying an exclusive claim to the entire State which is further buttressed by the peoples of the State whatever their political allegiances can either mean one of two things. The status quo remains or the peoples of the State come together to demand a shared political legacy. Where this is possible, ‘Kashmir’ should be dropped as shorthand for the entire State and a new national label should be coined that is essentially civic in its connotation. 

Appendix
 
“No. I-L/84. - The following definition of the term "State Subject" has been sanctioned by his Highness the Maharaja Bahadur (vice Private Secretary's letter No. 2354, dated the 31st January, 1927 to the Revenue Member of Council) and is hereby promulgated for general information.
 
The term State Subject means and includes - 
 
Class I. - All persons born and residing within the State before the commencement of the reign of His Highness the late Maharaja Ghulab Singh Sahib Bahadur, and also persons who settled the rein before the commencement of samvat year 1942, and have since been permanently residing therein.
 
Class II. - All persons other than those belonging to Class I who settled within the State before the close of samvat year 1968, and have since permanently resided and acquired immovable property therein.
 
Class III. - All persons, other than those belonging to Classes I and II permanently residing within the State, who have acquired under a rayatnama any immovable property therein or WIZO may hereafter acquire such property under an ijazatnama and may execute a rayatnama after ten years continuous residence therein.
 
Class IV. - Companies which have been registered as such within the State and which, being companies in which the Government are financially interested or as to the economic benefit to the State or to the financial stability of which the Government are satisfied, have by a special order of His Highness been declared to be State subjects.
 
Note I. - In matters of grants of the State scholarships State lands for agricultural and house building purposes and recruitment to State service, State subjects of Class 1 should receive preference over other classes and those of Class 11, over Class III, subject, however, to the order dated 31st January, 1927 of his Highness the Maharaja Bahadur regarding employment of hereditary State Subjects in Government service.
 
Note II. - The descendants of the persons who have secured the status of any class of the State Subjects will be entitled to become the State Subject of the same class. For example, if A is declared a State Subject of Class II his sons and grandsons will ipso facto acquire the status of the same Class (II) and not of Class I.
 
Note III. - The wife or a widow of a State Subject of any class shall acquire the status of her husband as State Subject of the same Class as her husband, so long as she resides in the State and does not leave the State for permanent residence out-side the State.
 
Note IV. - For the purpose of the interpretation of the term 'State Subject' either with reference to any law for the time being in force or otherwise, the definition given in this Notification as amended up to date shall be read as if such amended definition existed in this Notification as originally issued. 
 
NOTIFICATION
 
(Issued by order of His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur dated Srinagar, the 27th June 1932, (14th Har, 1989, published In Government Gazette dated 24th Har, 1989). No.13L/1989. - -Whereas it is necessary to determine the status of Jammu and Kashmir State Subjects in foreign territories and to inform the Government of Foreign States as to the position of their nationals in this state, it is hereby commanded and notified for public information, as follows:
 
That all emigrants from the Jammu and Kashmir State to foreign territories shall be considered State Subjects and also the descendants of these emigrants born aboard for two generations. Provided that, these nationals of the Jammu and Kashmir State shall not be entitled to claim the internal rights granted to subjects of this State by the laws, unless they fulfil the conditions laid down by those laws and rules for the specific purposes mentioned therein.
The foreign nationals residing in the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall not acquire the nationality of the Jammu and Kashmir State until after the age of 18 on purchasing immovable property under permission of an ijazatnama and on obtaining a rayatnama after ten years continuous residence in the Jammu and Kashmir State as laid down in Notification No.-l-L. of 1984, dated 20th April, 1927.
 
Certificates of nationality of the Jammu and Kashmir State may, on application, be granted by the Minister-in Charge of the Political Department in accordance with the provision of section I of this Notification.”
Notification No I-L/84, 20/04/1927
Appendix 2
 
There is of course no such thing as a 'Kashmiri' caste in any regional sense of that term, just as there is no such thing as 'Punjabi', 'Gujarati' or 'Bengali' castes. Castes are not wed to the contours of any specific regional or geographical area and the same caste groupings in the Valley of Kashmir also exist in other parts of the subcontinent. Foreigners to any part of the subcontinent were over time assimilated into the caste-system dependent on their social backgrounds. The notion of the 'Kashmiri' caste nonetheless obtains among the simpletons of the Hill Tracts and the Punjab Plains who in their common parlance associate certain caste-backgrounds with that of 'Kashmir'. Aside from this reality, many caste-groupings have aggregated for themselves certain caste-backgrounds to overcome the debilitating stigma of belonging to low-castes, usually linked with menial occupations. The use of the label 'Kashmiri' is one such example, (although this does not apply exclusively to those claiming to be, for example, Punjabi speaking ‘Kashmiris’), especially when the protagonists have absolutely nothing in common with the inhabitants of the Valley other than a putative shared origin evidenced by caste-surnames. However we understand it, the notion is simply counterintuitive as there is simply no racial or geographical constituent to the putative claims of a 'Kashmiri' background, which would make the notion largely redundant. Migrations from the Valley of Kashmir in recent centuries involved the exodus of large number of weavers (identified as 'Darzees' or 'Kasvis' by the recieving communities), taxed to the hilt by successive foriegn occupiers of the country but who were given the opportunity of resettling in British India. Their skills of weaving 'Persian carpets' were greatly sought after and the British wanted to control this lucrative trade by locating it within its own directly-controlled territories. Many were thus encouraged to settle in eastern Punjab from where they eventually migrated to other areas. Both historians and anthropologists of 'India', contend that Rajput, Jat and Gujjar caste-groupings are themselves immigrants to the Hill Tracts and the Punjab Plains from either, respectively, Rajasthan, Sind and Gujarat. None of these caste-groupings claim to be Rajasthani, Sindi or Gujarati, which is extremely telling of the power dynamics that exist within the region. Incidentally, all three caste groupings have also been postulated to have had Central Asian origins prior to their move into the immediate North West of the subcontinent after the advent of Arab forces post 650 CE. For more information, see History of District Mirpur on the exact nature of caste-dynamics within the Hill Tracts. In mentioning these realities, we are simply bringing our readers attention to the ridiculous caricatures of Mirpuris being false-Kashmiris popularised by people who use the term as an indicator of their own exclusivist caste-origins, whilst being completely ignorant of the underlying dynamics that resulted in self-identification on either terms.
 

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