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. My 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 colony 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 about ‘others’ they don’t like. 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.

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 that 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’. 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 7500 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.

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 is now being exploited by Pakistani officials. 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’ 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. We’re dealing with a minority of Pakistanis whose influence is sadly beyond their numbers. That’s the unfortunate reality of the internet. 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 reality of the claim but about the ‘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’. There’s nothing wrong with being ‘common’ by the way and ‘they’ are no less common than the ordinary folk of the UK.

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, or global intellectuals. If Pakistan had any of these personalities, they’ve already packed their bags and 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, 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.

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 and on the streets. The army allows them to do this so long as the army is not criticised.

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 also 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.

But, even when 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’. Ordinary Pakistanis need remittences from their oversees relatives who left Pakistan because they had no future in their villages or cities, and now they’re helping to feed huge populations that live on the fringe or margins of an established elite. The amount of tax the country actually generates, not to be confused with the size of the economy, can no way sustain its balance of payments. And most rich people avoid paying taxes. And yet it’s the rich that benefit from international funds earmarked for the poor whilst the poor continue to die unnoticed. 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 a good reason 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 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 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 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. So show me the evidence; show me where you got your proof from; show me the datasets that distinguish ‘honour-criminals’ by place of origin?

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 place to live.

Besides, you don’t like the idea of poor, ‘uneducated’ ‘peasants’ who have no desire to speak Urdu 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 Pakistan 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. 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’ 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’? 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.

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 forget their own life stories. 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 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!

We know who we are – do they know who they are?

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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.


  1. Finally some one is taking this seriously. I like the convo bit.

    Pakistanis are definitely deluded as if they did not come here as unskilled labourers but they want to speak Urdu now and look down on the others. You are right, Pakistan is one of the most underdeveloped countries on earth famous for corruption. Even Bangladesh left in 1971. How can ordinary Pakistanis in Britain look down on Mirpuris, “delusions of grandeur: lolol. Very true

    I would add one thing though that some Mirpuris, not all, usually those who adopt Urdu also think negatively about their own backgrounds which is a shame. My cousin speaks to his kids in Urdu because his wife is Shehri but his kids speak English and no Urdu so I do not understand what he is achieving. His wife speaks terrible broken English, and yet she thinks she is educated because she speaks Urdu. And he is more educated than she is.

    It is because no one has taught our people about our culture and language, so this is a good start. my parents always speak mirpuri even to Urdu and panjabi speakers and they don’t feel inferior so I don’t understand why these fake Urdu speakers feel inferior to other Pakistanis. I have noticed Patwaris do the same thing and from my experience they seem to be at the front of the queue speaking bad about Mirpuris. It is obvious they hate themselves and so feel they have to overcompensate to get accepted by Urdu speaking Pakistanis. But I dont see Urdu speakers going out of their way to love the ‘Patwaris’. Apparently there are no more Patwaris in Rawalpindi or Islamabad except for the Mirpuris who have bought all the big houses in Baariyah town loll

    Pakistan has become a joke.

    • In terms of the situation you described between your cousin and his wife, that’s more to do with power dynamics than ‘education’. Sometimes we also contribute to our own ongoing dispossession even as we have power to change things. You have to believe in your identity before you can posture through it like your parents who speak Mirpuri regardless of their Urdu and panjabi peers – and you’ll discover over time, people start to treat you differently. Power dynamics can and do change, and the fact we’re having this conversation is proof of that.

    • 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!

        • To be fair to you Orchid, I’ve personally never experienced this bigotry from fellow Patwaris, many of whom are my own cousins. I’ve always felt at home in both these places whenever I’ve gone back to visit relatives. Some Patwaris do make silly comments about Mirpuris but it doesn’t count as bigotry against Mirpuris. Its definitely some form of self-hatred, “speak “Urdu” and not “Patwari”, why should we speak Urdu in areas where everyone speaks Pahari-Patwari? Some Mirpuris also make silly comments against Mirpuris to suck up to their Pakistani friends who think they own Pakistan and have the right to humiliate the indigenous peoples and cultures of this ill-fated land. The Patwari areas of Rawalpindi feel the same as the Pahari areas of Jammu & Kashmir and these areas feel very different to certain areas of Pakistan that seem to be dominating this entire country. So I don’t know what these guys are talking about deflecting the bigotry from the Plains and cities of Pakistan to our own people. In the same breadth they defend ‘Pakistan’ they deflect the blame on the Patwaris for anti-Mirpuri prejudice, what kind of logic is that? To me Pakistan is a corrupt place that is exploiting Azad Kashmir. Patwaris have never benefited from this exploitation but the elites of Pakistan, even if some Patwaris are deluded to think they are somehow part of that elite when they mock Mirpuris.

    • 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.

  2. 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 white English anglosaxons are racists. Of course the prejudice against mirpuris is real but that exposes the Pakistanis who don’t know anything about their own backgrounds. Pakistan shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of it’s unrepresentative elites.

  3. 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?

    • It is petty hatred and jealousy. Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle, It’s the festive season. Good points in the article though.

    • 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?

  4. 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.

  5. It’s invigorating to finally see my Mirpuri/Potohari/Pahari people speaking out against Pakistani Punjabi racism! I’m sick and tired of seeing Punjabis’ bigotry and pigeonholing against my people; calling us “backwards”, “uneducated”, “villagers”, “worthless” and other such dehumanising labels. They even have the nerve to claim we’re the reason Pakistanis have a bad reputation (what a joke)… meanwhile Punjabis are the reason Pakistan is known for being a failed state that lags behind the rest of the world in every sector of development!

    Please keep up the cultivated articles! You have my support!

    • Pakistani or Panjabi bigotry against Mirpuris is nothing more than ‘jealousy’. Since I came across this article I’ve been doing the google search on Mirpuris, and it is mostly jealousy, even though my blood boils!!! :(((((((((

      I came across this observation from an expert writing on the impact of remittences to local economies abroad; “At one level the answer is clear; it goes straight to the rural areas from which the majority of transnational labor migrants are almost invariably drawn. District Mirpur is one such area. To non-Mirpuri Pakistanis, the prospect of such areas is evident, so much so that emigrants’ success elicits active feelings of jealousy, even among members of the urban elite. Returning migrants may be mocked for their bizarre behaviour, such as importing wide-screen televisions and enormous refrigerators to villages that are hardly yet served with electricity connections. From the perspective of the urban elite, returning migrants have more money than they know what to do with.”

      Remittences and the local dimensions of the national economy; edited by Samuel Munzele Maimbo, Dilip Ratha

      Please buy the book or borrow it from your local library.

      Mirpuris need to start reading about what’s happening to our region. The author makes really good observations about how remittences improve the relative wealth of an area but the absence of government-infrastructure such as “roads, schools, hospitals, markets and so forth” continue to hamper the same area, forcing a kind of dispossession on the people. So the urban elite from Pakistan, those jealous individuals, feel they have the the right to mock, in our case, the Mirpuris, even though they are motivated by jealousy. THAT URBAN ELITE IS BRING PROPPED UP BY THE CORRUPT GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      And yet its Pakistan that is actively denying Mirpur and Azad Kashmir prosperity. Why after so many decades in the UK, is there no airport in Mirpur? Because they don’t want us to have an airport, they want to skim off us by channeling all the airport-related trade to Islamabad. They want to rip us off so they can ensure that their own people have jobs whilst our people in Azad Kashmir having nothing but remittences.

      How many times have we heard Pakistan is deliberately keeping Azad Kashmir poor, its deliberate disinvestment. THOSE JKLF PEOPLE WERE RIGHT!!!!


  6. this article is so dumb. you realise the rest of us pakistanis, including the rest of the other ethnic groups in azad kashmir, see mirpuris and punjabis as practically the same people? you’re ethnically the same, your culture is the same, and so is your language to some degree. mirpuris need to stop calling themselves kashmiri because they’re far from it. most ethnic kashmiris are in indian occupied kashmir,with hardly any in pak. mirpur was literally a part of punjab not so long ago

    • You have the nerve to call this post “dumb” and you haven’t even read the post? loooooololol!!!!! You really are a genius, and I’m sure you don’t represent the rest of your Pakistani friends, they’d probably feel embarrassed for you.

      You haven’t even read one word of this post, and you want to comment about the ethnic identity of Azad Kashmiris as separate from Indian “Occupied” Kashmir, even though the post is talking about something completely different. In fact the writer from his profile goes out of his way to say HE IS NOT A KASHMIRI LOLOL. Actually read some paragraphs here, from the ‘about us’ page, the ‘FYI’ page, to realise how stupid your comments are. In fact these guys are saying the Kashmiri identity is a massive liability for Azad Kashmir as Azad Kashmiris fight back against the corrupt Pakistani State if you bothered to read the posts.

      But, what do you even know about ethnicity and the huge ethnic diversity of this place everyone calls ‘Kashmir’?????????????????????????????????????? Don’t tell us about our people in Azad Kashmir or the wider Jammu & Kashmir State, as if we don’t know who we ‘are’ but you as some deluded Pakistani know who “we are”! Have some humility and self-respect. We know the identity of the actual ‘Pakistanis’ exploiting Azad Kashmir. You can carry on recycling the rubbish your peers from Pakistan tell you in your little bubble about “Mirpuris”, it doesn’t make you an expert on “Azad Kashmir”, “Panjabis” and “Kashmiris”.

      But what is this obsession you Pakistanis have about telling “Mirpuris” that they are not “Kashmiris?” Why are you so obsessed with “Mirpuris” and “Kashmiris” and the STRONG URGE TO SEPARATE THE TWO? These communities exist, unfortunately, in a contested piece of real estate; these areas weren’t part of British India but the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir otherwise called the Dogra Raj. Both areas are “occupied” or “administered” by India and Pakistan today, and in both areas, both communities are fighting for their rights. India, Pakistan, and the entire international community call these peoples of this divided territory, “Kashmiris”. The term Kashmir is thus used as shorthand for the entire region and “Kashmiris” include all the peoples of the State even as they have their own identity labels.

      So who the heck are you? And as we’re on the topic of “dumbness”, no, you’re actually wrong, Mirpur wasn’t part of the “Panjab”, some parts of it were part of the “Lahore Subah” as other parts were part of the “Kashmir Subah”. It’s only later the term Panjab become equated with the Lahore Subah which then was being used to describe an even larger region. The British Province of Panjab was different to the Mughal’s conception of Panjab which was different to older conceptions of the Sapta Sindhu or “the land of the seven rivers”.

      The word “Panjab” means different things to different people, as an “ethnic” “identity it has emerged very late in the day; I gathered all this information from the posts here. Mirpuris share a culture with Patwaris, Hindkowan and Paharis from other parts of Indian-administered-Kashmir. They don’t share a culture with Panjabis from Lahore and other areas. But even this is a complex history, you’re unfamiliar with, its about power-dynamics and governance systems and not simplistic ‘identities’ you want to throw around because you think you know everything about a ‘people’.

      Perhaps if you read these posts, you might actually learn something different from the broken record your used to listening to. Learn history before you comment on the identity of people you know nothing about! Identities are fluid and malleable. But then again, what do you expect from Pakistan, a country that sits at the bottom of every human development index.

      You are the “dumb” one!

      • “Why are you so obsessed with “Mirpuris” and “Kashmiris” and the STRONG URGE TO SEPARATE THE TWO?”, maybe because the real Kashmiri don’t like it, when other people say they are Kashmiri when in real they are not? Mirpuris and Kashmiri don’t share the same culture and language and both look very different! The only thing which both have common in their religion! Call yourself Mirpuris, Jammutese, Paharis but not something you not are!

        • LOL OK BABA please post the links to these Valley Kashmiris so we can see the RACIAL DIFFERENCE between the real Kashmiris and the false Kashmiris in AJK.

          Whilst you’re at it, post a picture of yourself too, as you’re probably a real Kashmiri from India, so we can all see how amazingly different the real Kashmiris are from the false Kashmiris lolol.

          As for culture lol. You’re on a website that promotes the culture of AJK and the Pothohar Uplands and the Hazara Hills. Are you that ignorant, that you can’t see the irony of your stupid claims?

          As for the real Kashmiris, the majority in the Valley want an independent country made up of the old State of Jammu & Kashmir. And they happen to be Muslim! The Muslim Kashmiris have kicked out the Hindu Pandit Kashmiris, who’ve always been a minority in the State, BUT THEY THINK THEY OWN ALL OF KASHMIR, and you’re telling us ‘Kashmiris’ don’t share a culture with ‘Mirpuris’. lolol

          It’s disinformation to say otherwise, Indian trolls have been good at this by going onto any website that speaks about Kashmir to create imaginary divisions between the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir especially those who want a re-united State.

          Most of us have woke up to this propaganda. Now go back to your bunker and say this rubbish on other websites and forums.

    • “A” thank you for your comments. I would encourage you to read the other posts to get perspective on these issues. There is a lot more to the Kashmir Conflict, its contested territoriality between India and Pakistan and the ensuing political claims about who owns the territory than the naive claims of some individuals repeating tropes they’ve heard from their peers. ‘Azad’ Kashmir is very much part of the Kashmir Conflict and her people are very much stakeholders in this conflict. Pakistan Officialdom has denied them agency to represent their own interests. I suspect this is going to change in the following years. A lot of what you read online, or hear in Pakistani circles dismissive of ‘Mirpuris’ about true and false Kashmiris and about the isolation and distance of the Valley of Kashmiris from other areas in the wider State is just nonsense; I’m being polite. A lot of these claims amount to disinformation, they are anecdotal and are being peddled by people with no serious intellectual investiture in these claims. For those of us from ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir, we are not ignorant of our own backgrounds, even as we disagree amongst ourselves about the future of ‘A’JK, we know who we are and what we’re not, and we don’t need Pakistanis to lecture us about our ‘identity’.

      The following post may be of some interest entitled; Whose “Kashmir” is it? Conflict, Territorial Claims and the Abuse of History


      BTW, there is only one major ethnic group in ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir and it can be found from Neelum all the way down to Bhimbar. These people are related to peoples on either side of the LOC and are the “Kashmiris” split between Indian and Pakistani checkpoints.

      • “BTW, there is only one major ethnic group in ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir and it can be found from Neelum all the way down to Bhimbar. These people are related to peoples on either side of the LOC and are the “Kashmiris” split between Indian and Pakistani checkpoints.”

        That is nonsense! Indians and Pakistani know that there different ethnic groups in Azad Jammu and Kashmir! Only Neelum Valley and Muzafrabad are part of the Kashmir Valley and only the native of these lands have the right to call themself Kashmiri, because they are real Kashmiri! The other district are part of Jammu! Many Mirpuris never see the JAMMU in Azad Jammu and Kashmir! Mirpuris are the Jammutese not Kashmiri! With the exception of Neelum and Muzafrabad and Bhimber all the other districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir are dominated by Paharis. Bhimber has a Punjabi majority!

        • Name these ethnic groups and tell me where they live? Neelum is not part of Kashmir Valley, it’s a separate Valley connected with the Valleys in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkwa? The people in Neelum speak Pahari not Kashmiri. You haven’t been to Neelum, so stop spreading DISINFORMATION on this website you Indian troll. The refugees from the Valley of Kashmir who speak Kashmiri are actually a minority in Neelum.

          You don’t know this because you’re not from the region. I know this because I’m from the region. So don’t tell me what my people look like in Neelum you twat.

          Do you even know your own geography?

          Clearly you are talking out of your behind. You have not been to AJK and you’re just repeating rubbish you’ve heard from people who think like you. Indians and Pakistanis – the vast majority – have not been to AJK.

          That’s just a fact.

          Indians can’t go to AJK! So where have you seen all these Azad Kashmiris?

          I’m from AJK. I’ve been to these areas because my grandparents are from here and I’m interested in my heritage – the heritage of the Pahari Ilaaqa of Jammu & Kashmir which also spreads into Pakistan. I know what my people look like. I know what Valley ‘Kashmiris’ look like and I know all the myths that have been created about Valley Kashmiris.

          They are not fairer or taller than any of my own people (racial myths – do you know anything about this concept). These same racial myths were made about the Jatt, the Rajput, the British were making these myths, not ordinary ‘Kashmiris’, ordinary Panjabis, ordinary Jat or Rajput or Brahman.

          In fact I get shocked when I hear these claims repeated again and again, as do many people, given what we see of the Hindu Pandits on Indian television screens telling their audiences that they are the ‘real Kashmiris’.

          In fact most Hindu Pandits from Kashmir are quite dark compared to all the rest of us. It’s not me obsessed with these stupid race obsessions, it’s people like you who forget we live in the age of cameras and we can see the pictures of the young Muslim stone pelters from Kashmir.

          I’ve met Valley Kashmiris in the UK, from the Valley, and they don’t look remarkably different from anyone else from the region.

          How do they look different from the people of surrounding areas for you to automatically detect the ‘difference’?

          I dont think you have even read any of the posts here. We all know what propaganda is. You’re engaging in propaganda because you want to split the Muslims of Kashmir by creating false illusions in their mind. So you come to these websites pretending to be a real Kashmiri – lol – or a defender of real Kashmiris who can’t stand India – you’re probably a troll from India with Hindu Nationalist leanings repeating all the rubbish that has been said about Kashmir even though you haven’t even been to Jammu & Kashmir, the Pakistan side or the Indian side.

          If you’re going to comment here read the post, so you don’t sound stupid.

        • MR BABA 13

          “The Kashmiri population is an ethno-linguistic group that resides in the Kashmir Valley in northern India…”

          “The PCA demonstrates clear genetic patterning of populations in European, South Asian, and East Asian subcontinental groups (first two principal components, shown in Fig 1). A number of populations fall between the subcontinental genetic clusters (North African, West Asian, South Asian, and some East Asian populations). The Kashmiri samples are grouped near other previously studied groups from northern India and Pakistan, which indicates similar genetic ancestry. Further, the mean principal component 1 and 2 coordinate of a previously studied population in Kashmir (15 Kashmiri Pandits) is found to plot in the center of the collected Kashmiri cluster, indicating similar heritage and validating the quality of the Kashmiri genotypes. A number of populations residing in nearby Pakistan also show genetic similarity to the Kashmiris, including the Burusho, Balochi, Brahui, Sindhi, and Kalash. Principal components 1 and 2 also show that the Indo-European ethno-linguistic populations from northern India lie on a cline between western European populations and Dravidian ethno-linguistic groups of southern India. This pattern suggests that Indo-European ethno-linguistic groups of northern India, including the Kashmiris, share a complex ancestral history with both west Eurasian and Indian populations. None of the Kashmiris clustered near the northern Greek or Sephardic Jewish (Greece and Turkey) populations in principal components 1 and 2. A similar pattern is observed in principal components 3 and 4 (Fig A in S1 Appendix).”







  7. Please go on twitter and search ‘Mirpuris’ to understand the level of anti-Muslim hatred. Alternatively type ‘Mirpuris’ in google and brace yourselves for what google returns. It seems these people, mostly British Pakistanis are speaking about Mirpuris to their own people, some writers say its because of one-sided rivalry. Most Mirpuris I know have been unaware of this hatred, and so it comes as a shock. But it is out there and it is now entering the mainstream, and we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

    If people are honest with themselves, they will accept the characterisations as unfair and mostly motivated by prejudice, bigotry and at times malice. It is completely wrong to tarnish a majority because of the actions of a tiny minority; we accept this standard for all peoples, no people like being called ‘names’, but when it comes to our people, our fellow Pakistanis go brain-death.

  8. Is there some kind of existential crisis effecting a minority of expats from AJK living born or raised in the UK?

    For the life of me I can’t understand what the fuss is all about. Kashmiri or not, does it make a difference at all?
    Our grandparents generation were hardly aware or even cared accepted a Kashmiri ethnic identity or national one for that matter. Our Kashmiri brothers in the valley don’t see us as Kashmiris like them but why are we so keen to wear their collar?

    Take for example our ethnic kin over the LoC who not only we share a common dialect with but also genetics, they don’t seem to share our anxiety about their identity. They are content to be Dogar or proudly Indian and having engaged many on Facebook I can assure you the Kashmiri label is not what they strive for or feel insecure about who they are. They make a clear distinction there.

    Perhaps our feeling of disenfranchisement is responsible our state of confusion but I do honestly think it effects very few people.

    We can at least try to be nice and civil towards each other regardless of differing opinions.
    Kindest regards

    • Thank you for your comments “Khari na Jat” lol. How are you?

      I think this blog might just become a homeland for all the Jatt out there! lol

      Existential crisis or not, it still doesn’t detract from the structural inequalities that define Pakistan, and have made this country a dystopic nightmare for the dispossessed majority. Yes, ‘A’JK has its corrupt leaders too, but they exist on the fringe of this corrupt country. If I was in Pakistan or from Pakistan Mainland, from some village on the outskirts of some city, I would be saying the exact same things. And the prejudice and bigotry, of all those who benefit from such dynamics, follow on from these structural inequalities.

      What do you say about the “sheep” who don’t even benefit from these unjust power dynamics but insist on being Pakistani Patriots in the UK flying Pakistani flags trying to silence dissent, and accusing their peers of being Indian Agents? And they never once speak out against the Mirpuri-bashing that has been going on over the past decades.

      Some of us might just choose to downplay the significance of these unjust power-dynamics as moral failings, and YES ABSOLUTELY, on the part of some Pakistanis it is moral failings – nothing else. But what about all the others, who get to leave the “Pak Zameen” for the West courtesy of “Politician Dad” or “Mr Military Man” having helped themselves to the “aid money” procured in the name of poor people as they shout from the tops of their throat “Kashmir Banega Pakistan”.

      What happened to the “Kashmir” that’s Azad? Whose going to speak up for these “Azad” people?

      But of course ‘Kashmir’ is Pakistan’s jugular vein, even if the Kashmiris of the Vale for centuries were treated very poorly, and their caste-kashmiri “cousins” in the Panjab who probably weren’t even from there, but from the stock of sweepers and tailors from neighbouring areas – (realities are harsh if you’ve never once probed them), we have people telling Mirpuris who the real “Kashmiris” are.

      Like you said, no one cared for a Kashmiri identity in Mirpur and surrounding areas historically. Even today, the “Kashmiri” identity is not prestigious for the people of Jammu especially those from the Zamindar background. So what’s going on?

      Which Mirpuri of a Zamindar background would ever claim a ‘caste-Kashmiri’ background? They never did. And the majority still don’t. They still self-affirm as “Pakistanis” and not as “Kashmiris”.

      As Pakistan’s role been positive in any of the backlash?

      Isn’t this disinformation of gigantic proportions?

      I don’t know how any fair-minded person could be against what I’m saying. Anyway nice to hear from another fellow Jat.

  9. Am all good praava 😎
    I’ve never had an issue with what you have to say I think your articles are well written and well researched.

    Its these other nuts who run after the dog before checking if their ears are still intact. Kan na thakya thay Kutay prechay dhorya types. Disagree by all means but don’t accuse people of being agents, collaborators and God knows what else that just sounds ridiculous.
    Anyone who belittles another community in my eyes is a bigot a racist an ignoramus and an imbecile. The irony here is they belittle each other, they have more in common then they can hope to imagine. Thats my main point.

    Anyways you never got back to me with your autosomal results cousin nor have I seen you on Gedmatch.

    Btw Jats generally are empathetic towards others, we are humbe folks who my late Thaya used to describe as ” people come people go but a Jat goes on forever.” That’s the the spirit my son. We have with our ploughs plowed mountains and rocks and we can’t allow a few dimwits to tickle us into being like them. I would like to think that you get a Jat world view from me and not that of the conniving divisive people who like to be divisive. How else can they sell their opium?

  10. Like you said, no one cared for a Kashmiri identity in Mirpur and surrounding areas historically. Even today, the “Kashmiri” identity is not prestigious for the people of Jammu especially those from the Zamindar background. So what’s going on?
    No I disagree on that one observation. In actuality it’s considered to be quite hip and fashionable. There’s a certain kind of romance attached to it. Pakistan on the other hand has had really bad press over the last couple of decades. I first noticed this trend in the late 70s when p*** bashing was the norm and some of our compatriots thought they would get away from a good hiding if they claimed to be something else. I took a few kicking’s for my tenacity but now am older and wiser.

    As far as corruption is concerned the mercantile community who hold the purse strings ironically belong to the asal Kashmiri diaspora from India as do the political class in Urban areas like Lahore and Rawalpindi.

    You’ve raised some other points but my attention span is very limited these days.
    Ah flags and running around like ignoramuses I’ve never been for pro flag bearing I think it’s a pathetic exercise, for me doesn’t matter if it’s the Union Jack or the star and Crescent it’s a chavvy thing to do.

    • I used to think that too about the Kashmiri identity being hip and fashionable, but this is a very skewed way at looking at how some ‘identities’ become prestigious whilst others fall on the wayside. There is a lot of politics here and disinformation not necessarily connected with caste-Kashmiris in the Panjab; the whole “Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein” and “India’s integral part” has not helped given the territorial sensibilities around warped ideas of ethnicity and self-importance. Lots of writers speak about the reification of the Valley even as Muslim Kashmiris in India are brutally stigmatised and demonised – there’s nothing prestigious about being Muslim Kashmiri in India or Jammu. In some cases, it’s a death sentence, young Muslim Kashmiris have been killed on trains because they were identified as “Kashmiris”; some of them reportedly saying that they were Hindu Pandits to protect themselves from the crazed lunatics.

      Also there’s a lot more going on than the idea of some upwardly ‘Indian’ Kashmiris from the mercantile class becoming powerful in Pakistan post-partition. Their prominence in certain Pakistani cities that now boast millions of Kashmiri-Panjabis is not directly linked to their own material accomplishments, noble as that is. Lots of successful business people in the Panjab have adopted the “Bhat” surname to the chagrin of the older landed-backgrounds who remember vividly the occupational castes of these new ‘Bhats’ as tailors and ‘merchants’. This is akin to the adoption of the Ashraaf backgrounds by people of humble backgrounds who do well for themselves. This is nothing more than envy and jealousy, a bit like the jealousy against Mirpuris; the new “Bhats” should not be ashamed of their success. Good on them I say! They didn’t get to their current status without the hard-work of their forebears.

      The problem occurs when their Urdu-speaking children, with selective memories, want to poke fun of the false Kashmiris in ‘A’JK unaware of this very recent history, not least because lots of caste-Kashmiris now identifying as Kashmiris in Pakistan, ‘A’JK, Indian Jammu, weren’t even from the Valley of Kashmir. It’s not like their parents are going to tell them “oh by the way our grandparents and great-parents were penniless day-labourers from Jammu, Rajouri, Kotli, Mirpur, Nowshera, Uri, Karna, Kishtwar, the “Vadi” if indeed they were from the Valley as some inevitably were from the Valley, but like communities everywhere morphed into their changing ‘identities’. We can even trace the journeys of these dispossessed people and so those who ended up in eastern Panjab, and formed colonies as “weavers”, probably, were from the Valley as opposed to the thousands that settled in western Panjab in areas that had always been conterminous with the Pahari-Patwari areas of the western Himalayas. This wide area historically was diverse as was the Valley, the ethnic Kashmiri speakers weren’t the only people living in the Vale, and it really irritates people like me who understand this history, when you hear dilettantes extolling the exclusive ethnic identities of the Valley Kashmiris.

      Let’s not forget Muslim Kashmiris in the Panjab (another incredibly diverse area) were a dispossessed people, and were treated terribly by their peers; colonial accounts of Kashmiri colonies in the Panjab described them as “scavengers”, and they were very dismissive of their physical appearances which is also interesting in light of the race-myths of the time. These Kashmiris are almost always conflated with the Hindu Pandits, a tiny minority of educated families, who became very successful in India, not surprisingly given it was these very same people who were writing about Kashmir’s history as a literate class, not that ‘Kashmir’ belonged to them exclusively, but you can see how they injected themselves into that ‘primordial heritage’. But that’s just the nature of power dynamics. These dynamics can be seen to be working in many parts of the world, as some groups become more important than others, and then later, their descendants start to project backwards by creating new and illusory ‘pasts’.

      It is these same Hindu Pandits who are now arguing that the real Kashmir is the Valley of Kashmir and not the State of Jammu & Kashmir despite many of their forebears extolling the original ideas of ‘Kashmiriyat’ as being a state-wide identity in the 1930s. These were the first agitations against the Dogra Raj of which many Mirpuris were involved, Hindu and Muslim, and which some sadly died or were executed in Jammu Prison. Some of the best minds behind this agitation, or at least this is how that history is now being presented, included members of the Hindu Pandit community. So you see, back then, when they were saying “Kashmir for the Kashmiris”, they implied everyone in the State. The patronage they wanted, was from the Dogra Raj, Jamwal Rajputs who otherwise called their territories including “Kashmir” the ‘Dogra Raj’ or the ‘Jammu Kingdom’. The British would call the Dogra Darbar, the Kashmir Darbar or Kashmir government/ruling court; so you see this “Kashmiri” territorial label is a huge problem not least because people are imagining this past. The emergence of “Kashmiriyat” as an ‘idea’, had always been a secular argument of convivality of ordinary people against the tyranny of power, and those behind these struggles included numerous Muslim Kashmiris from the Panjab who originally came from all parts of the old State. These people were heavily influenced by the resistance movement in British India against colonialism as the emerging Indian middle-class was demanding its rights from the colonial masters.

      Today, powerful interest groups from the Hindu Pandit groups have almost succeeded in changing the narrative in mainstream India about the true Kashmir vs. the false Kashmir. Some of the things you have said in your comments, I believe unwittingly, about the Valley of Kashmir being so far away from Jammu, is some of the propaganda these people have been spreading in India. This is politics my friend, not ethnology or anthropology. Lots of activists from ‘A’JK are aware of it, as their brethren from the Valley are aware of it.

      I come from a group of people who have been exploring these issues, we have been speaking to lots of people about ‘Kashmir’. If you listen to Pakistanis online, it’s as if the activists from ‘A’JK are somehow ignorant of the labels they use. They are not ignorant. They are merely using the nomenclature at their disposal given the international connotations of ‘Kashmir’. Many of us have been to the Valley, this so-called idyllic paradise that is no different from the many other beautiful valleys right across the western Himalayas. The peoples are the same across this whole area, the cultures feel the same, (whatever the Panjabi or Dardic dialects of different language groups) given the desire of the upwardly mobile not to speak their native tongues including Kashmiri to somehow separate themselves from the rural peasants. Yes, Urdu here too is a problem. Social climbers exist everywhere and they exist in the Valley as they are ashamed to speak their own mother-tongue as Valley Kashmiri Hindu Pandits want to speak about the great Dardic language we call Kashmiri, even as they speak Urdu and English across their own dinner tables.

      But trust me when I tell you this, the Valley ‘Muslim’ Kashmiris are really fed up with Pakistanis telling people who Kashmiris are, and who arn’t. They are fighting a war for independence, whether they are right or wrong, it’s for them to decide. They live in this part of the world, it’s not for me or anyone else to tell them, their solutions. They take offence and umbrage at Pakistani so-called caste-Kashmiris making fun of ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmiris even as some amongst them start repeating the ethnic tropes of the Hindu Pandits about who is and isn’t a true “Kashmiri”.

      Some of their leaders, are like the leaders in ‘A’JK, they have sold out to certain interest groups.

      Others are just tired of this conflict.

      But the point is, ultimately it’s for people to decide their own political future. No one can infantilise people because they disagree with them or have not experienced what they have experienced. In ‘A’JK people are really fed up with the power-structure in Pakistan. You cannot ignore nearly 70 years of political and economic exploitation as if it never happened, the sort of exploitation that exists all over Pakistan. You cannot ignore decades of abuse and slurs pushed towards Mirpuris by fellow-Pakistanis about how uncouth they are, how primitive their language, scapegoating and caricaturing. This is not a fiction of people’s imagination. It happens daily as you hear some Pakistanis repeat tired and worn tropes about the cousin-shagging Mirpuris who belong in Zoos and not in civilised countries. Who taught them to think like this? Where did this level of hatred come from? Why do people think so negatively of ‘Paharis’ in general, and if they did come from these lands or ended up here, why do they run away from a term that simply means from ‘the mountains’. From which direction, is this hatred coming from, from the Plains or the Hills?

      I don’t have the answers. I’ll be the first to admit that. All I know is that cleavages don’t just emerge over-night. There is a complex history behind the emerging identities. If you deny the history and minimise the grievances of such causes, you give more oxygen to the voices who want to separate. And finally people separate.

      And what I know of separation is more people die in the process. The partition of India was a complete tragedy. So what’s the bloody point! But it doesn’t mean these people were imagining how they were being treated, or their anxieties weren’t real. Perhaps, their solutions were wrong, but we should be sincere and acknowledge a people’s suffering.

  11. The voices of Jammu where many caste-Kashmiris in Pakistan originally came from. Jammu is beautiful my brothers and sisters of Pakistan, as are all the Pahari areas around it. Sialkot and Gujranwala has loads of Kashmiris originally from Jammu.

    Dont be ashamed of ur backgrounds please.

    Most of ur parents werent even from the Valley, and even if they were it doesnt mean they were all Kashiri speakers. Lots of Pahari-speakers lived in the Valley for centuries.



    Tahira Syed’s mother was originally from Akhnur, from the old district in Mirpur, now in Indian Jammu. They separated us between their Lines of Control but our hearts are still one, and we are not ashamed of our grandparents culture and language.

  12. I would like to add this video about the people of Jammu Kashmir who live on the river Jhelum as it flows from Valley Kashmir down to Mirpur.

    “Two Journalist Arif Urfi (from pakistan part of Jammu Kashmir) and Pawan Bali (from Indian side of Jammu Kashmir) traveled along River Vitasta (River Jehlum) and Collected the stories of divided families and people caught in conflict, focusing the human aspect of the tragedy of Jammu Kashmir without going into the reasons and causes of the conflict.”


    Most these people are “Paharis”, and they are stuck between the LOC thanks to India and Pakistan. These are the “Kashmiris” stuck between Indian and Pakistani “border”. Who will cry for these people all of you Pakistanis who say Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein? what about you Indians who say Kashmir is Indian integral part? You want the territory not the people! We are not stupid in Jammu & Kashmir or in so called Azad Kashmir.







    can you plz add this video to your website. thank u.


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