The Hate Campaign

Vilification of the (British) Mirpuri Community;

Online Samples; (reader discretion advisable)

The Background

With the emergence of the Internet as a means of informal communication between different segments of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK, particularly over the past decade, a number of crude stereotypes and caricatures have been generated about different aspects of Britain’s Mirpuri communities, (see note 1). 

The instigating authors of this growing body of material are typically mainland Pakistanis with self-ascribed ‘urban’ backgrounds. Unlike their Mirpuri counterparts, they settled in the UK in much smaller numbers. On account of their perceptions concerning their demographic numbers in the UK, they feel disgruntled by the social profile of ‘Mirpuris’. They contend that the alleged nefarious activities of the Mirpuri community widely documented by the British Media has tarnished the reputation of ‘Pakistanis’ who are otherwise law-abiding citizens. As part of their ostensible grievances against Mirpuris is the belief that the latter, contrary to popular perceptions in the UK are in fact pseudo-Pakistanis on account of their national ties with Pakistan-administered-Kashmir otherwise known as Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir, (see note 2).

According to these popularly held beliefs, which frequently come up in Pakistani inter-community conversations is the abiding perception that the authentic Pakistanis have inadvertently been caught-up in the reactions of mainstream Britons through no fault of their own, ostensibly through their false association with Mirpuris. Similar reasoning is proffered by another ‘vocal’ group again mostly based in the Pakistani Province of Punjab but crucially on diametrically opposed lines. This group self-ascribes as ‘authentic’ Kashmiris and adjudges itself as such by virtue of alleged caste credentials and ‘linear’ descent from clans or tribes who left the Valley many hundreds of years ago. They evidence this claim through the mere assertion of surnames and very little else. They view themselves as the real Kashmiris in Pakistan despite being ethnically removed from Valley Kashmiris. They are practically indistinguishable from other Pakistani ethnic groupings within which they are now subsumed. These individuals contend that Mirpuris are in fact ethnic ‘Punjabis’ whose intrusion into a supposedly exclusive ‘Kashmiri’ space has been accidental. These views, mired in prejudice and at times gross ignorance of the historical realities that shaped the course of events within the Princely State and the wider region can be accessed from a variety of different Pakistani online forums. These postings also exist in the form of unsolicited comments and at times deeply offensive caricatures on 'Blogs', 'YouTube User Accounts', 'FaceBook Pages' and on a variety of other interactive websites and portals frequented or managed by ‘Pakistanis’.    

We have compiled a sample of these ‘online’ views and have labelled such material ‘Trash-Attacks’ given the rather ridiculous claims or sensational sensibilities generated in their wake. Ordinarily, as these ‘Trash-Attacks’ are the product of blatant prejudice the correct response would be to simply ignore them. The ubiquitous reach of the Internet has made this option dangerous. These views are being recycled on an industrial scale in many online forums and have become 'factoids'. The internet’s ability to give a much wider platform to such views has ‘transitioned’ them into ‘facts’ now relied upon by ‘social commentators’ whose first-hand knowledge of Mirpuris is derived through such platforms. Unsuspecting journalists have compounded matters further by adopting wholesale some of these ‘factoids’ without even probing their veracity whilst completely unaware of their culturally-specific contexts. They have reproduced them with a certain journalistic flare within the respectable spaces of Britain’s print-media. Some have even gone as far as offering their own ‘interpretations’ through a range of academic disciplinary frameworks and ‘paradigms’. The fact that their interpretations are built on purported ‘realities’ generated in the first instance by the rumour mills of the Pakistani community, has meant that their entire intervention has been obstructive and deeply misguided. 

It was reported in the wake of the 7/7 bombings that 3 of the 4 suicide bombers were of a Mirpuri background. Madeline Bunting who first hinted at this possibility, entitled her article, ‘Orphans of Islam’; the history of Britain’s Mirpur population may help to explain why some became suicide bombers.” She made a number of misleading distinctions between the rural background of émigré Mirpuris and their Pakistani-based urban counterparts in the UK. The 7/7 suicide bombers contrary to her perceptions were of a Pakistani background; their parents originated from the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Her pronouncements on this matter were therefore deeply flawed and when one considers that the premise of her argument was entirely false, a case can be made that she inadvertently began a trajectory where British Mirpuris were libelled on account of false reporting. A number of other unwarranted fabrications in her piece owed their existence to the rumour mills of the mainstream Pakistani communities. There has been no attempt to date, we believe, to discredit such deeply damaging misrepresentations. And so one continues to read in forums or hears in conversations today that Mirpur has spawned suicide bombers. 

'Factoids' & 'Trash Attacks'; what do we mean?

'Factoids' are defined as “items of unreliable information that are reported and repeated so often that they become accepted as facts” and in the context of Mirpuris are directed as trash-attacks. We define 'Trash-Attacks' as “unwitty, callous and spurious caricatures of the Mirpuri community spread by people intent on tarnishing the reputation of Mirpuris in the UK, that are based primarily on prejudice and stereotypes.” We have taken the liberty of calling the initiators or purveyors of Trash-Attacks 'Trash-Attackers'.

There are different forms of Trash-Attacks from false labelling of Mirpuris on the basis of one or another social ill (whether real or imagined) to characterisations that attempt to carry the veneer of an objective intellectual discourse that are nonetheless rooted in a profound ignorance of the very issues raised and crucially disconnected from the actual experiences of Mirpuris.  There are more serious indictments that caricature the entire community as a pariah on the basis of isolated events, perpetrated by either members of the community or outsiders.

To understand the raison d'être of such hatred it would be prudent to familiarise oneself with the backgrounds and the identities of the exponents of such Trash-Attacks, the misconceptions upon which their diatribes are based and the misrepresentation of the historical narrative as it pertains to Mirpur as a region of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. Please refer to "'Trash-Attackers' - Who Are They?" or ('click here'). Were we identify a particular community in relation to the ethnic backgrounds of individual Trash-Attackers, they almost always form a minority existing on the fringes of otherwise normal and healthy interactions between Mirpuris and the communities named. This does not however minimise the extent of the problem that we are currently exposing as will be demonstrated by the copious material of our sample. 

NOTES

(1); Mirpuris have been identified officially and non-officially as a sub-stratum of the wider British Pakistani community by both officials and academics. Technically speaking, such categorisations are incorrect as Mirpur forms part of the disputed region of Jammu & Kashmir and in constitutional terms falls within the territorial boundaries of the former Princely State. This position has been recognised by successive Pakistani governments, both civilian and military and the overwhelming majority of United Nation Member States. The Princely State was a culturally heterogeneous region with diverse linguistic communities, a fact that holds true for Pakistan, India and numerous other Nation States. Aside from not naturally cohering given its colonial underpinnings it had a ‘misleading title’ popularised by the British. The colonial masters would simply refer to the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir as ‘Kashmir’ in shorthand. Mirpuris are state-subjects of ‘Kashmir’ and have profound cultural ties with the peoples of the Pothohar Plateau and the Hazara Hills, regions that administratively became part of the Pakistani Provinces of the North West Frontier and Punjab. They also have strong ties with the peoples of ‘Indian’ Jammu or areas conterminous with its Pahari-cultural-sphere. On the basis of these commonalities, Mirpuris have erroneously been described as ‘ethnic’ Punjabis by those who are particularly covetous of an exclusivist ‘ethnic’ ‘Kashmiri identity. Again, these protagonists are located mainly in Pakistan; for more information see sections Pahari-cultural-sphere (or 'click here') and Jammu & Kashmir (or 'click here').

(2); The quasi-independent polity of Azad Jammu Kashmir in the strictest constitutional terms is not a Province of Pakistan. In real terms it is a client-state run by Pakistani bureaucrats in Islamabad whose power is beyond the control or scrutiny of the elected officials of Azad Kashmir. Ironically, Azad Kashmir has its own constitution and flag and the semblance of an independent state structure, namely its own elected legislature, executive and judiciary. It is generally held that none of these state-structures makes the polity ‘independent’ of Pakistani control. Transparency International and other anti-corruption organisations have rated the polity 'NOT FREE'.

 Sample (1); Trash-attacks;'Unsolicited Comments'; 

 Sample (2); Trash-attacks; 'Topics on Mirpuris'; 

Sample (3); Trash-attacks;'Contested Identities'; 

 

Sample (4); Trash-attacks; 'Journalistic Accounts'; COMING SOON

 

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