I can recall quite vividly my first foray into the world of “anti-Mirpuri” dribble-dribble that still goes on in the world of social media.

It began like this…

People everywhere want to learn something about their past. I did too. I was born in the UK. The first member of my direct family to come here was my maternal grandad. He was an ‘army-man’, fought for the British during WW2 and was involved in the military operations against the Dogra Forces of the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir. This is what my dad tells me. These were tribal incursions aided by the newly formed Pakistan army. My grandmother passed away, and so my grandad got married again and re-settled in what is today Pakistan. He passed away in 1984. I was a young child at the time, and I accompanied his body to be buried in the ancestral graveyard.

And so what about the rest of the family?

It’s pretty much more of the same. Dad had other uncles and cousins who fought in the war and joined the Pakistan army when it was first created from the regiments of British-India. My dad’s dad died in Baluchistan working on the railways. These guys were an industrious lot, they left their villages in search of work, and travelled thousands of miles. Decades earlier, I’m told of relatives who worked on the British merchant ships docked in Bombay, this was the norm back then, and most of the people from our area, or the wider area around Mirpur sought greener pastures elsewhere. The more adventurous “jumped ship” and ended up in the New World. One of my dad’s cousins settled in America, years before any of them came to the UK. He was there for about 12 years, got ‘deported’, no one knows why, on transit to the UK he ‘jumped ship’ again, and made a life for himself in Britain. This is much earlier than the 1950s and so he had the automatic right to reside in the ‘mother country’ as a ‘British’ subject of the Empire.

Okay, so we can get snippets of a ‘history’ from the personal stories of our forebears.

But this doesn’t tell me anything about my distant past. Like most people, I want to know something about the ‘history’ of my ‘people’, the origin of their ‘culture’, their ‘region’, ‘language’. Who exactly were our distant forbears and where did they come from?

I tried asking my parents but their anecdotes about distant ancestors are of no use as the history is too personal. I’m getting tied of the “…there were 4 brothers, and one turned Muslim, and we come from his progeny” story. Almost every British-Pahari I’ve spoken to has been told the same account, it’s either four brothers or two brothers! And aside from academic books on history, and you need to be pretty discerning to know exactly what you’re looking for, the only other resource is the internet.

And so what do most people do?

What would you do?

What did I do?

I typed ‘Mirpur‘ into Google. I thought I was being smart. Like most ‘British-Paharis’, my parents were from the area called ‘Mirpur’, well much further north in the hills, and so I thought this would be a good place to start.

And what came back?

Dribble-drabble. Yup. I’m speaking of soul-destroying characterisations of who the “Mirpuris” are, what they’re not, and how bad they are! It’s just endless ‘hate’. Now, hear me when I say this. No Mirpuri, no matter how self-hating, is going to write endless reams about how bad his or her ‘people’ are, however ‘illiterate’, ‘uncouth’, ‘violent’ or ‘corrupt’! No people speak about themselves in this self-deprecating way. It’s always ‘individuals’ with a bone to pick who behave like this, venting and spurting out their hatred against ‘others’ they dislike. The internet gives them anonymity, and they feel they can stay things they would never say out loud except to like-minded peers in private. They make a couple of false social media profiles, and they’re off spurting their hatred and offering false commentaries about our collective misdemeanours.

But, there’s another reason why I know it’s not Mirpuris producing this dribble. Our parents have never imagined themselves to be ‘Mirpuris’. As weird as that sounds, it’s true. There’s never been a Mirpuri ‘identity’ for us to go around speaking about in this way. Even our parent’s forebears didn’t go about their business self-affirming as ‘Mirpuris’. After the 1947 partition, most of them said they were ‘Pakistanis’ and thought nothing of it.

Before the emergence of Pakistan in 1947 and ‘Pakistan-administered-Kashmir‘ some three months later, they would say that they were ‘Riyasati’ which simply meant that ‘they belonged to the State’. I’m speaking of the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, this was a separate ‘territory’ to lands that we take for granted as British India. It was part of the British Indian Empire but it wasn’t part of the British Raj. In other words, our forbears were governed by a different set of rulers whom they absolutely loathed, but, were themselves under the yoke of British colonialism. The British coined the term ‘Native Princes‘ because they were, supposedly indigenous to their ‘native’ lands, the insinuation was clear though – the British Indian Empire had only one Monarch who wore the British Crown. There were approximately 565 Princely States, the number actually varied but Kashmir State was one of the largest Princely States.

The Brits loved creating ‘terminology’ though.

And they were experts when it came to creating abbreviations and shorthands. To give you an idea of this proclivity, they used to call the territories of the ‘Sarkar-e-Khalsa‘, translated by them as the ‘Sikh Confederacy’ as the ‘Lahore State’. The Sikh Rulers for their part, did not view or call their vast territories the ‘Lahore State’. In our case, colonial officers called the territories of the ‘Dogra Raj‘ translated by them into English as the ‘Jammu Kingdom‘ as ‘Kashmir State’. Kashmir became shorthand for the entire State. It became tedious for them to say the full formal name of the State or its shorter phrase, so they started to say ‘Kashmir’. This was a massive territory of more than 85 to 86000 square miles, of which the Vale of Kashmir (‘Vadi-e-Kashmir‘) was no more than 2500 square miles. Even the larger Province – Subah-e-Kashmir – was no more than 9000 square miles. It was even said of the Vale during the late 1800s, that approximately 40 percent of the population was non ethnic-Kashmiri speaking, so this should give you an idea of how diverse the people were. It was from this ‘State’ (‘Riyasat’), but not the Vale, that our grandparents have their roots. The Brits inadvertently created a new trend. Whenever foreigners asked our forbears about their ‘place of origin’, they would variably say that they were ‘Kashmir Mulki’, (natives of Kashmir country). A foreigner or non-native of the territory would have been described as ‘ghayr-Mulki’. This is a complex history that I won’t bore you with, but suffice to say, the way we understand labels today weren’t necessarily understood in the same way in previous centuries. It has a lot to do with power-dynamics – ‘power‘ being the operative word, and not the preference or discernment of individuals, ‘experts’, clans or tribes.

So where did the term ‘Mirpuri’ come from?

It has its origin in the interactions between Pakistanis in the early years of migration to the UK. It was coined by people from mainland Pakistan to identify the bulk of the people from ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir. This area was ‘fought over’ by Muslims who lived in it, with the help of the Pakistan army, covertly of course, and annexed to Pakistan as an autonomous polity which 70 years on, is still in a state of limbo, not technically part of Pakistan, not even a Province of Pakistan, but an ambiguous territory with an ambiguous identity controlled by Pakistan.

The people of the polity were being increasingly identified as ‘Azad’ ‘Kashmiris’. It was members of the mainland Pakistan communities that started to identify the ‘Riyasatis‘ and ‘Kashmir Mulkis’ as either ‘Mirpuris’ or as ‘Kashmiris’. It was from this pool that we had the first remnants of the dribble-dribble that I mentioned earlier. Over the years it has been seeping online, and has now became a fixed feature of the conversations about Mirpuris. A lot of impressionistic ‘writers’ and ‘social commentators’, from outside the British-Pakistani community, rely on this body of knowledge when forming their opinions about Mirpuris.

But, obviously not all Pakistanis behave like this. Trust me, most of them are ‘alright’. They’ve got more important things to deal with then spurting out rubbish about Mirpuris. A lot of Pakistanis find such comments objectionable and offensive. We’re dealing with a minority of British-Pakistanis whose influence is sadly beyond their numbers. That’s the unfortunate reality of the internet and social media. But, you can almost sniff them out by second-guessing their ‘backgrounds’, and by that I mean purported self-affirming ‘backgrounds’. These are not your villager-type ‘Pakistanis’ although quite a few British-Pakistanis with village-backgrounds like to think of themselves as belonging to this group.

So who are they?

They’re your ‘Urbanites‘, the  ‘citified’ ‘Pakistanis’ that are keen to point out that British-Mirpuris are from villages despite the majority of us being born in Britain, in areas more diverse and affluent than the Pakistani equivalence. It’s not about the social reality of the claim but about the illusory ‘identity’ they ascribe to us. Because they speak ‘Urdu’ with their parents and grandparents, most of them having consciously adopted the language as non-native speakers, they like to think of themselves as a genteel class of highly ‘educated’ people whose parents were similarly a notch or two above our simpleton ‘grandparents’. In their warped mind ‘we’re’ ‘commoners’ because we don’t share their ‘identity’, or refuse to forsake the language of our forebears and pretend we come from the loins of an altogether different people. There’s nothing wrong with being ‘common’ by the way, and ‘they’ are no less common than millions of ordinary folk whether in the UK or abroad.

But in their minds, they’re cosmopolitan! They’re progressive! They’re the “Bees Neez“! Of course they are lots of things. They don’t eat chapatis with their hands any more, they use knives and forks – well, they would, if they could! Okay, I’m being facetious. But I get the feeling they hate everything about the rural lives and dialects of their forebears.

If they didn’t, they would never say half the things they say about ‘Mirpuris’.

The phrase that comes to my mind when I think of their attitudes is ‘delusions of grandeur’.

Why do I say that, you’re probably thinking?

Okay, when you do think of Pakistan as a country, what do you think of?

Be ruthlessly honest and ask yourself, what exactly comes to your mind?

It’s definitely not a genteel class of people that own a coveted piece of real-estate ‘heaven’!

When you think of Pakistan, you don’t think of ‘nobles’, fashion icons, human rights activists, reformers, or intellectuals of international fame. If Pakistan had any of these personalities, and they absolutely exist (Malala Yusuf, Imran Khan, Ayeesha Jalal, Muhammad Jibran Nasir, Salman Ahmad, Hassan Nissar, Najam Sethi, the late Salman Taseer, the late Asma Jahangir, the late Abdal Sattar Eidhi), they are either being harassed in Pakistan, or they’ve packed their bags and have already left! What does come to mind is poverty, corruption, instability, insurgency, and other negative ‘images’. I mean let’s face it, if you’re not from Pakistan, what are the chances of you holidaying there any time soon? Lots of destinations come to mind, Turkey, India, America, Britain, France, Spain, these are just a few, but you can bet your last dollar that Pakistan isn’t the first choice for seasoned globe trotters.

Pakistanis complain themselves that their country has an image problem. They incessantly complain about this!

So how can we tie the image of a ‘suave‘ class of citified-Pakistani ‘toffs’ with the international image of Pakistan, a country that has a serious problem with its reputation? International investors wouldn’t touch the country with a barge pole, it’s so corrupt that you can’t do business without having to pay bribes. The last president of Pakistan was called ‘Ten Percentor’ for a reason, he demanded kickbacks from every government contract he awarded to the highest bidder irrespective of how costly the contract was to government coffers. As long as he got paid, he didn’t care. Apparently, he is a billionaire.

The new prime minister, who was also a former prime minister, exiled from the country and then returned is also renowned for being corrupt. He is another billionaire, believe it or not. He is daily cursed by the poor and dispossessed ‘citizens’ of the country. And yet he still calls the shots, or at least those that he’s allowed to call. The rest are called by unelected army chiefs who have the power to dethrone ‘elected governments’ at whim.

And yet Pakistan presents itself as a democracy to the chagrin of real democrats everywhere.

What I’m saying here is on account of what Pakistanis say about their leaders daily, in their papers, on their television shows, in the media, on the streets, in their private conversations, on the internet. The army allows them to do this so long as the army is not criticised. This is not to say that everyone in the army is happy with the current direction of travel; lots of prominent army generals, in office or retired, politicians like Imran Khan fighting on an anti-corruption mantra with the backing of the army, intelligence service operatives, academics, journalists, senior ranking officials in the Bureaucracy are all unhappy with the current malaise that characterises the governance model.

They are a microcosm of the wider society, and constantly criticise the State for its many failings, even as they have to self-censor for fear of falling foul of one or another arbitrary rule.

Despite this, a lot of Pakistanis still want to compete with their arch rival ‘India’. “If Pakistan is corrupt, India is corrupt too“, they say flippantly. If India accuses Pakistan of orchestrating terrorist attacks in India, Pakistanis accuse India of doing the same thing in Baluchistan. They completely become oblivious to the insurgency in Baluchistan. It’s not Indian propaganda, many Baluch want out of Pakistan because of how they are being treated by the elite. Ordinary Baluchis have no problems with the hurdled masses of Pakistan.

So both countries are destabilising one another, right?

But why do businesses want to buy and sell things to India even locating their personnel there? Why are so many global businesses eying up Indian markets for a slice of the cake? Because you can trade in India according to ‘rules’ without running the risk of paying bribes to the ‘people’ who run India. India has been keenly addressing issues of political corruption and social inequality, as it doesn’t want to fall on the wayside like Pakistan. India has a problem with corruption, a massive problem, but the politicians and business community there want to stamp it out. Confidence in markets is based on stability and clear rules of engagement. In countries run by ‘mafioso’, the laws are arbitrary, and you can’t hide from the ‘thugs’ when things get bad. Pakistan is a good example of this. In India you can operate commercially without middle men squeezing you, these are the sorts of parasites that are actively destroying Pakistan.

They have had free reign for decades.

But, even as we try to make sense of Pakistan’s ability to fend for itself, its natural resources, how it generates money from its commercial and service sectors; when we look at the government’s expenditure figures, we’re left with the disconcerting thought that tax receipts alone are not enough to pay for the most basic of government services. The country literally lives off foreign aid, international grants and loans to survive, a lot of which get squandered through ‘kick-backs’, ‘corruption’ and massive ‘bribes’. Pakistan’s economy in GDP terms is huge, and has a lot going for it, but, sadly, given how the country accumulates taxes from the rich and powerful, there is disconnect between this taxable wealth and the Pakistani State.

A lot of ordinary Pakistanis depend on remittences from their oversees relatives, who left Pakistan because they had no future in their villages AND cities, and now they’re helping to feed huge populations that live on the fringe or margins of an established elite. The actual amount of tax the country generates, again not to be confused with the size of the economy, can no way sustain its balance of payments without foreign assistance. And most rich people avoid paying taxes, it’s become a national trait. And yet it’s the rich that benefit the most from international funds earmarked for the poor whilst the poor continue to die unnoticed in a country where there is no real sense of shared fraternity. You could fall of your motorcycle in Pakistan in any of the major cities, get trampled by oncoming traffic, and you’ll be lucky if someone stops their vehicle to come to your aid. This is the Pakistan of the rich. If you were dying of thirst in some remote Pakistani village, dirt poor villagers would come to your rescue. You would have to be insane to come from the hurdled masses of Pakistan insisting that you wave the Pakistani flag on ‘independence day’.

Pakistan is a rich-man’s club for parasites. Everyone else is a spectator.

Most patriots would be stupid if they knew all along that they’ve never had a stake in their country’s future.

I love the idea of martians too – but I wouldn’t die fighting for the idea

Countries are not just drawings of borders on a map though. They’re not abstract things. They are living organisms. Countries are peoples, institutions and structures. And we can compare and contrast them using all sorts of criteria. Thriving countries are rich, prosperous and free. Their citizens have a good quality of life because they are governed by like-minded people, who are not corrupt, selfish and nepotistic. They tend to be safe spaces for women and minorities – a good litmus test. In these countries, the laws actually amount for something. Elections mean something. And people, generally-speaking, are not treated with contempt. Every so often they celebrate their national culture and are justified in doing so. If you want to migrate there from another poor country, you would be pretty stupid to speak ill of them. The saying “don’t shit in the plate from which you eat” is an apt one, and for good reasons too.

Pakistan stands in stark contrast to all this.

It lives off foreign aid from countries its ‘media’ and conspiracy superstars blast for being ‘unconscionable’. America gives Pakistan billions of dollars every year, a lot of which goes to the military, and not necessarily out of any good will. But, from the likes of domestic critics who hate America but still want to emigrate there, we have people who like to attack Mirpuris for being ‘primitive’ and ‘treacherous’. In the UK, they see themselves as the authentic Pakistanis and they’re very keen to point out that “Mirpuris” aren’t really Pakistanis, or at least not like them.

But, why do they do this?

Because they believe “Mirpuris” are giving ordinary Pakistanis a bad name.

Okay.

Let’s test this proposition through the scenario of a dialogue. I have always wanted to write a script!

British-Pahari; what have British-Mirpuris done to have given ordinary Pakistanis a bad name? Why do you hate them so much!

British-Pakistani; well, hmm, let me think, hmm, yup, they don’t speak Urdu but a shitty language called Mirpuri that has no script, and…

British-Pahari; so that makes them ‘less-cultured’ because they choose to speak the language of their parents, grand-parents and great-grand-parents whilst you actively speak a language that has no roots in any of the native lands of Pakistan? And they’re ‘backwards’ and you’re ‘progressive’? Tell me again, what language did your parents and grandparents speak before you consciously switched to speaking Urdu?

British-Pakistani; I have always spoken Urdu. My parents migrated to the ‘Panjab’ from Urdu-speaking areas in India. They made huge sacrifices for Pakistan!

British-Pahari; so your language was imposed upon other ‘peoples’ in their own ethnic homelands so Pakistan could give you a safe ‘space’ all the while you poke fun of the indigenous languages of Pakistan?

British-Pakistani; nope it’s not just that. Mirpuris are villagers. They are rural people. Their values are stuck in a time warp, and they keep pushing us back from progressing forward. And…

British-Pahari; how did you work that out, give me some concrete examples?

British-Pakistani; hmm, because you know they’re into honour crime and all sorts of nefarious activities!

British-Pahari; and of all the cases that have been reported in the British and Pakistani Press that involve honour crime, how many involved people from Mirpur or living in Mirpur?

British-Pakistani; I would imagine a lot!

British-Pahari; You ‘imagining’ all this doesn’t make it true. Show me the evidence; show me where you got your proof from; show me the datasets that distinguish ‘honour-criminals’ by place of origin? Prove to me the “Mirpuri’ connection?

British-Pakistani; I just know because that’s what happens in villages!

British-Pahari; so that would mean that the majority of rural Pakistan, most of Pakistan is rural by the way, and most of the cities are overgrown towns, has values stuck in villages? Mirpuris make less than 0.3 percent of Pakistan’s population, but they’re the bad guys in Britain, remind me again, for what exactly?

British-Pakistani; no, no, you’re not following. Mirpuris are benefit cheats! They’re drug dealers. They’re pedos!

British-Pahari; okay, how do you know that? Where exactly did you go to interrogate such stats? Which government agency did you rely on to assimilate such information?

British-Pakistani; everyone knows they scam the benefits so they can build mansions in Mirpur.

British-Pahari; so these ‘everybodies’ got their information from where again?

British-Pakistani; it’s a fact, they live off tax-payers, they are poor, uneducated, unhealthy dimwits living off disability benefits. How else would they get money to build massive mansions in a part of the world that no one gives a shit about?

British-Pahari; in the same way they purchased their houses in the UK through hard toil and labour. Mirpuris have never come to the UK illegally because their pioneers came to the UK well before the 1960s. When restrictions were introduced later, they relied on their sponsorship networks which upsets you because you don’t have uncles and aunts and grandparents who can sponsor you. Not that you were a highly skilled person, and Britain was dying for you to come over. And to sponsor people you need to show an Immigration Caseworker that you can provide for your dependents, that you have an income and a suitable place to live.

Besides, you don’t like the idea of ‘poor’, ‘uneducated’ ‘peasants’ – in your warped imagination at least – who have no desire to speak Urdu, ironically, having more money than you, to the extent of building fancy Mansions in Mirpur which they then offer for free to people to look after? In my mind that’s a form of social housing. How come this aspect of their generosity is never praised not least because many people flock to Mirpur from the Pakistan mainland to live in such houses sometimes even with a monthly stipend!

Call them idiots by all means if that assuages your sense of business acumen, but don’t call them criminals.

I mean you probably lived in a council house in the UK, and now you wear a three-piece suit when you go to work in the local take-away! It’s not nice being insulted, I know your pain!

We don’t like being insulted either.

British-Pakistani; Mirpuris are sex-groomers in the UK! Read the papers dude!

British-Pahari; okay, of the 1 million or so British-Mirpuris in the UK, how many, as a percentage are sex-groomers?

British-Pakistan; I suspect a lot!

British-Pahari; you’re a suspicious git, aren’t you! But tell me, where did you get your facts from as there are no data-sets that give us such information. Just tell me, of all the sex-groomers convicted of these despicable crimes, from where exactly did their parents or grandparents originate from in District Mirpur?

British-Pakistani; There are more Mirpuris in Britain than ordinary Pakistanis so it’s natural that they’re going to commit most of the crimes.

British-Pahari; of course it’s natural because you hide yourselves behind the cover of your small numbers and then it becomes easy for you to deflect attention away from the ‘ordinary Pakistanis’ because you never once considered Mirpuris genuine Pakistanis. Otherwise you would have done some soul-searching and not been eager to tarnish the reputation of ordinary individuals because of a bogus label. But to take your logic, lots of Mirpuris lived in the Beeston area of Leeds, they were said to be the majority, and yet the parents of the three Pakistani suicide bombers came from Pakistan not Mirpur, ‘Azad’ Jammu Kashmir. So where does that leave your statistical determinism?

British-Pakistani; oh whatever! What about cousin marriages? You’re telling me the children of Mirpuris don’t suffer from congenital diseases? You’re all a bunch of self-ghettoising cousin-shagging neanderthals!

British-Pahari: more than a billion people on earth marry their cousins. Most Pakistanis are married to their close cousins from both cities and villages. It’s a practise that needs to stop not least because some children born of these unions have harrowing life conditions. Genetic counselling is the way forward, something that many British-Paharis are now advocating in their communities. But, why are you so reticent about this problem in Pakistan? As for cousin shagging neanderthals, would you have called Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan, a cousin shagging neanderthal? What about Islam’s most holiest personalities?

British-Pakistani; you’re an Indian agent and Mirpur is a shit hole so who cares!

British-Pahari; of course it’s a shit-hole because when you can’t win an argument you always attack the integrity and identity of the person making the argument. But, if Mirpur is Pakistan’s shit-street, return the Dam to her people and all the money that goes to Pakistan through Mirpur. It’s in the billions of pounds my friend as reported by academics and your own press. Pakistan flooded our lands and robbed our dispossessed villagers of their thriving communities. You didn’t care because as far as you were concerned they were all a bunch of docile peasants! Those we’re our grandparents, and I can assure you for every action there’s a reaction so every-time you want to smear our reputation by being our ‘unlikeliest of representatives’ in the UK don’t be surprised when we speak back.

But just so you know, I don’t know why you’re defending Pakistan when the ‘real elite’ in Pakistan, nope, you’re not one of them, couldn’t care one iota about you. You’re just a pretentious idiot who likes the idea of Pakistan, but knows nothing of its reality. The next time you get locked up in some foreign wilderness, you’ll be kissing your British passport and entreating ‘God Bretannia’ to save you. It won’t be the white crescent and star that’ll save you then! I can guarantee you that much.

British-Pakistani exists the scene. British-Pahari feels bad about the whole exchange.

If I was to sum up this bigotry, I would say it is on account of self-hatred. Now I’m not a psychologist to hazard this opinion as a fact. But, I find it odd that you have people online who want to express an opinion about ‘Mirpuris’ for everything that’s wrong with Pakistan. Aside from the smears, if Mirpuris are indeed ‘primitive’, it is on account of coming from cultures that spread across entire swathes of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Poor people live everywhere and they are some of the nicest and unpretentious people you’ll ever meet. And yet the Pakistanis whose parents were similarly ‘villagers’ having come to the UK as ‘unskilled workers’ want to re-imagine their history in accordance with their modern priorities and dare I say anxieties.

But there is a wider point, if indeed British-Mirpuris are primitive why would anyone want to express an opinion about people who are ‘powerless’, have no ‘social prestige’ and little ‘privilege’? This proposition needs no advocate, just do your own google search and type ‘Mirpuris’ to understand this sense of outrage. Perhaps things are changing. But, as I hope to show through a sample of online comments, this trope-telling has become a defining characteristic of the one-sided rivalry between mainland Pakistans and British-Mirpuris.

We know exactly from which ‘direction’ this hate is coming, and from which quarter.

Ultimately, I think it’s because Mirpuris remind British-Pakistanis about their true origins. Before some of our pompous ‘Pakistanis’, and its only some of them, started to consciously change everything about their humbler origins, they were more ‘real’ and less ‘fake’. I guess I’m talking about their grandparents and parents who never forgot their own life stories, or the sacrifices they made when they let everything ‘familiar’ behind to give their offspring a better future. It is on account of not knowing their heritage, and the bogus associations they want to make with people who have nothing in common with them that they have become the butt of international jokes. As for Mirpuris, we should take heed and learn something of our own heritage so we remain connected with the past of our forbears and their culture of dispossession. We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of on account of their sacrifices, and that’s the reason why you’re in Britain reading this post in English.

Note remark in excerpt, “British-based newspaper has RIGHTLY drawn a line between Pakistanis and a group of Pakistanis… by calling the latter “Mirpuris”! So much for ‘Pakistani’ fraternal love!

MODERATOR

Comments not related to this post will be deleted accordingly including all comments that are ostensibly propagandistic or divisive and which seek to create animosity between communities. Please extend courtesy and respect to those whose viewpoints you may not necessarily agree with. The Portmir Foundation seeks to create dialogue between members of the British-Pakistani and Azad Jammu & Kashmir communities, and the wider society.

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Editor at Portmir Foundation; liberal by values, opposed to tribalism in all its guises; love languages and cultures – want to study as many as I can; proficient in some; opposed to social and political injustice wherever it rears its ugly head even from within my own British-Pahari community (a little unsure about the juxtaposition. The term ‘Pahari’ can mean different things to different people – stay posted. Grandparents from the Himalayan mountains of Jammu, presently split between India and Pakistan – get the impression no one cares about the people stuck between the LOC – currently researching the ‘Pahari-cultural-heritage’ outside political and territorial paradigms and the narratives of the political ‘mainstream’. Ultimately, hoping to create a space for members of the British-Pahari community to discover their own wonderful heritage. I believe – ‘life’ is a wok in progress so nothing is fixed even our thoughts! If you’re from the region, feel free to contact me – always prepared to widen my intellectual horizons and stand corrected – don’t insult me though. Be grown up and tell me why you think I’m wrong. If you make sense, I’ll change my views.

My opinions are not necessarily those of the Portmir Foundation; the Foundation does not do censorship; if you disagree with any us, and you’re from our background, write your own opinion piece and we’ll publish it. You can contact us at info@portmir.org.uk.

18 COMMENTS

  1. You can still speak Urdu and Pahari. It’s Urdu speakers and only some of them that are prejudicial towards Pahari speakers and not the language. I wouldn’t stop speaking English because (some) white English anglosaxons are racists. Of course the prejudice against mirpuris is real but that exposes the British-Pakistanis (minority) who don’t know anything about their own backgrounds. Pakistan shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of it’s unrepresentative elites.

  2. Negative comments about mirpuris are unfair and the Pakistanis that spread such gossip have gotten away with it because a lot of mirpuris do not think of themselves as mirpuris but pakistanis. My grandparents were born in mirpur, like my parents I was born in Britain. I did the Google search on mirpur and mirpuris and I’m disgusted by the negative remarks and innuendos against my community. How are we one commubity in Britain if Pakistanis want to deliberately destroy our reputation like this. I do not see Mirpuris attacking other Pakistanis online? When our grandparents built all these mosques and community centres, where they bad Mirpuris then too?

    • This view of yours about the Mirpuri/Pahari/Potwari “language”, shallow as it is and erroneous too – I doubt you have any real appreciation of the ‘dialects’ concerned, does it also extend to the speakers of this “same language” – are they horrible too? Are they the most horrible people in the world too?

      Or is it just the language? And on what basis have you come to this conclusion?

      • Yes, we need to educate brother Mushtaq, and perhaps his parents too and remind these lost souls of humility and humanity, and what Islam says about the languages Allah created in his divine wisdom, and the cultures he assigned us to, so we know one another.

        I think I’ll take my views of the diversity of languages from the Qur’an thank you very much. Who knows, may be Mushtaq isn’t a Muslim, so apologies for assuming that.

        Mirpuri/Pahari/Patwari are indeed beautiful dialects of a beautiful language that predates Urdu by centuries, spoken in the hills and mountains of the Western Himalayas for centuries. To me it is the most beautiful language in the world.

  3. Mushtaq first appreciate what a language is before you call another nation’s language horrible. One better, actually read the post because clearly you haven’t read it, otherwise you wouldn’t make such a daft comment.

  4. I’m a Potohari and I don’t look down on Mirpuris nor do I mock them. Mirpuris and Potoharis are the same people, most of us Potoharis have relatives in and around the Mirpur region, we’re one people! Any Potohari making fun of Mirpuris is an imbecile and a self-hater; they only do so to impress those racist Majhi Punjabis. They don’t realise that Punjabis’ bigotry and hatred against “Mirpuris” is essentially against ALL Potohari speakers! I’m deeply ashamed of any Potohari hating on Mirpuris…makes so sense as we’re literally the same in every way possible!

  5. This hatred is petty rivalry between Pakistanis in Britain. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. In Islamabad, mirpuris are considered wealthy, and have a lot more money than the locals, and this makes some of them feel envious as they think they are somehow better. I think if Mirpur and the rest of Azad Kashmir had infrastructure, constant electricity, they would never buy properties in Bahriyyah town with all the amenities of a modern city. In the UK, it was the Patwaris who started speaking ill of Mirpuris and the rest of the Pakistanis started to recycle the rumours and innuendo. Everything you read online is based on these old rivalries. It’s good some Mirpuris are now speaking out against how the community is being presented, those who remain silent but have access to power should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. Not all mirpuris are the same, not all Pakistanis are the same, like the five fingers on a hand. This is a vicious circle, and the proof is in the pudding. Check out ARY News or Geo News about how bad Pakistan is, then start making judgements about a small minority of Mirpuris who live in UK.

  7. Faroq said,
    How can Pakistan vacate the territories when India has no commitment to honouring the call for a plebiscite.
    Imagine you have a dispute with your neighbour over where the garden fence should be located. The courts intervene and tell you that you need to put it to a vote between both of your families. However your neighbour insists the garden is his, and has no intention of honouring such a vote. He further starts abusing, and attacking your relatives when he sees them in the garden all the while claiming that you are illegally occupying his garden. Both of you complain to the courts but they seem to have lost the will to intervene. Would you remove yourself from your Garden in such circumstances, and confine yourself to your house?
    This example is flawed as J&K was never a part of the partition. This example is apt for Punjab or Sind only. The reason is that J&K was not a part of either Pakistan or India or British India before.
    The example given by Faroq is valid for any disputes between Pak or India on their international border the Radcliff line. However despite Pakistanis insisting that the Radcliffe line was wrong and that Gurdaspur and some parts of Indian Punjab should be in Pakistan, the Pakistanis accepted the border. The Pakistanis also say Rann of Kutch is Pakistani but they never crossed the international border and accepted it. So why is Pakistan demanding J&K border is wrong when they never had any right to even one centimetre of Kashmir.
    Further it is Pakistan that has broken the UN resolutions and not India. As regards the mal fides of india, it was Pakistan that invaded Kashmir.
    Pakistan used non state actors to invade J&K. The Maharaja of Kashmir asked the Mahraja of Patiala for assistance and the Mahraja of Patiala H.E Sidhu sent his forces, then Pakistan sent there army and following that invasion the Maharaja of J&K legally ( maybe not morally) acceded his kingdom to India. India then legally entered J&K and Pakistan could not do anything further and hence a ceasefire was declared and the case went to the UN.
    The UN demanded that Pakistan the aggressor state withdraw all it’s forces from J&K and this was a precondition for the Plebicite. Pakistan showing it’s rogue state nature from 1947 broke the UN resolution and then invaded India in 1965 and then in 1999 including 1948, Pakistan invaded India 3 times and so I think the international community would probably consider Pakistan as one that does not honour any agreements.
    So why is Pakistan so admant to attack and take what is clearly not it’s territory. The reason is that Pakistan needs the water resources of Kashmir.
    I will repeat the UN resolution that Pakistani keep mentioning even though they have no intention of honouring it.
    Resolution of the Commission of January 5, 1949
    The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, Having received from the Governments of India and Pakistan, in communications dated 23 December and 25 December 1948, respectively, their acceptance of the following principles which are supplementary to the Commission’s Resolution of 13 August 1948:
    1. The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite;
    2. A plebiscite will be held when it shall be found by the Commission that the cease-fire and truce arrangements set forth in Parts I and II of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948 have been carried out and arrangements for the plebiscite have been completed;
    On 13 August 1948, after discussions with both the governments, the Commission unanimously adopted a three-part resolution, amending and amplifying the UN Resolution 47.
    • Part I dealt with ceasefire, calling for a complete cessation of hostilities.
    • Part II dealt with a truce agreement. It asked for a complete withdrawal of Pakistan’s fighting forces, including the army, tribes and other Pakistani nationals, and stated that the evacuated territory would be administered by local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission. Following the Pakistani withdrawal, India was expected to withdraw the “bulk of its forces” reducing them to the minimum level required for maintaining law and order.
    • Part III stated that, after the acceptance of the truce agreement, the two countries would enter into consultation with the Commission for settling the future of the state in accordance with the will of the people.
    Faroq then referred to Mirpur being a part of Punjab. All of J&K was a province of Khalsa Raj under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singhji. In the treaty of 1846, Mahraja Ranjit Singh acceded the province of J&K to the British who then made it a independent Princely state. In 1947 J&K had been a independent land for 101 years. At that time there was no support for the restitution of Khalsa Raj and instead the muslims of Punjab and especially those from the eastern districts of Punjab supported an Islamic state and decided that they no longer wanted to live with Sikhs as they were kafirs. So by referring to Mirpur as Punjab today is a pathetic attempt to claim territory of the Khalsa that Pakistan as a state detests.

  8. All languages are beautiful in their own way. The prejudice is not against the language but the speakers of those languages.

    Pakistanis don’t hate Pahari or Pothwari: They hate Mirpuri(the language of the Mirpuris). That Mirpuris speak Pahari is arbitrary, if we spoke another language they’d hate that language instead. Their problem is not that we speak Pahari but that we don’t speak Urdu.

    They hate Pothwari on account of it sounding like the language of the Mirpuris. Their goal is to make Mirpuris ashamed of their own language and background so they dissociate from having anything to do with the Mirpuris and “integrate” into a Pakistani identity. Perhaps speak Urdu?

    It’s sort of like how racist whites hate how immigrants speak their own language and make fun of them when they try to speak English. Similarly Pakistanis hate the language of the Mirpuris because they want them to stop speaking it as Pahari-speaking Mirpuris make them uncomfortable. When Mirpuris try to speak Urdu, they make fun of their Urdu speaking accents.

    Until Mirpuris all don’t become flag waving, Gulabi-Urdu speaking “Pakistanis”, they’ll continue to have anxieties that Mirpuris are not really one of them….

    • Pahari 101, To some extent I do agree with you, but no Pashtun, Baluch or Sindhi speaks Urdu and they all speak their own languages and in fact nearly all Punjabis actually communicate among themselves in Punjabi. Urdu is not used in daily discourse by 90% of Pakistanis. So why the particular hatred for Mirpuris. I think that the language issue is one aspect but there is more. Regarding the language issue I would say the fact that Mirpuris live outside of Pakistan is the main reason that they hate us. The reason being that with us around they cannot portray Pakistan as being a Hindi/urdu speaking land to the outside world. Pakistan is trying to portray an image of itself which outside of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad does not exist. Alot of immigrants from these areas consider the fake history they have made as genuine and so as you said Mirpuris seem disconcerting to their views.

      • Mirpuris are from Jammu and Kashmir which is a disputed territory. If Pashtun, Baloch or Sindhis speak their own language, it doesn’t really matter, as they are bonafide Pakistanis. Even Pothwaris can speak their own language, they are bonafide Pakistanis and are not going anywhere. The anxieties are about the Mirpuris, it is the Mirpuris who they claim are all secretly “Independence Kashmiris” and who are not really Pakistani. Mirpuris are the ones who have to go out their way to prove they are Pakistani and can integrate into a Pakistani identity by not speaking their own language.

        This is what I was trying to explain to some Mirpuris on twitter that most Punjabis do in fact speak their own language even in the UK. That Punjabis adopt Urdu more than Mirpuris is actually a myth as transatlantic marriages amongst Mirpuris means they usually have a few family members that speak Urdu and the children end up adopting the language as well.

        So though many of the Upwardly mobile Punjabis look down on their own language as lower-class and adopt Urdu, they don’t actually have any hate towards it and they still dance to the music and speak it when they want fraternity with Indian Punjabis. The hate is against the language of the Mirpuris.

        The idea that only urdu speakers hate Mirpuri is a myth also. Hindko speakers, and Punjabi speakers also think of the language as hideous “dialects”, of their own language. The idea is to make Mirpuris not speak their own language. They talk bad about Mirpuris because they don’t want Mirpuris associating with the Mirpuri label or the language of Mirpuris. They basically just want us to say we are “Pakistani” and that we speak “Urdu”. They want us to have nothing to do with ourselves basically. That’s why they’ve demonised the “Mirpuris”, they want Mirpuris to distance themselves from the Mirpuri label and become one of them.

        There is very little hatred against either Pothwari or Pahari language in Pakistan, strange that? So why this vitriolic hate in England? And if it’s because these are self-hating Punjabis who dislike the language of village people, then this self-hatred should be against themselves first should it not?

        But they don’t attack Punjabi at all, like we both agree, most of them actually speak the language. It’s all about making Mirpuris feel bad about being Mirpuri so they dissociate from the Mirpuri label and want nothing to do with it. This is also why every bad Pakistani is a Mirpuri and every uncouth behaviour of Pakistanis is associated with Mirpuris and no one else. They scapegoating every negative element of Pakistanis onto the “Mirpuri” identity.

        Make Mirpuris feel ashamed about being Mirpuri, so they distance themselves from the label. So they assert that they are Pakistanis and not from J&K. This is why we constantly hear “Mirpuris are not Kashmiri” from the same people.

        So my conclusion is that they don’t really hate the Pahari or Pothwari language inherently. It’s more to do with the fact that it’s the language spoken by people who are self-affirming as “Kashmiris” according to them, who secretly do not want to be Pakistanis but from J&K. So they demonise the Mirpuris and their connection to the “Kashmiris”, they say we are imposters and that Mirpuris are backwards junglee, criminals so we want nothing to do with the label and become one of them. In short, a self-hating Mirpuri is a powerless Mirpuri and that’s what they want.

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