The Portmir Heritage Foundation is a voluntary sector organisation founded in 2010 by British Azad Kashmiris to research, document and celebrate the heritage of Jammu & Kashmir State in all its beautiful diversity within the safe space of the UK. In doing so, we are mindful of state-enforced conflict and human rights violations in both parts of Occupied Kashmir.
See the Freedom in the World 2020 score and learn about democracy and freedom in Pakistani Kashmir.
Our primary goal is to give a genuine voice to those being erased from the memories of their forebears’ struggles and lived experience whether in divided Kashmir or abroad. This includes (but not exclusively) those advocating for Kashmir’s independence from both Pakistan and India. Pakistan and India are complicit in the occupation of native lands of native peoples in the forcibly divided State, impeding the natives of Kashmir State from pursuing their right to self determination under International Law.
See the Freedom in the World 2022 score and learn about democracy and freedom in Indian Kashmir.
Both nationalistic interests behave repressively towards Independence Kashmiris and other pro-independence ethnic minorities; the Baluch in Pakistan and the Sikh based Khalistan Movement in India are two such examples.
See Amnesty International Report; ‘Pakistan: The Disappeared of Baluchistan’
See Human Rights Report; ‘Protecting the Killers, a Policy of Impugnity in Punjab, India‘
The word ‘Azad’ means to be free, genuinely free, from oppression, exploitation and occupation. It is an Indo-European word deployed in many arenas of resistance accross the Indo-Iranian speaking world.
Azad Kashmiris are Pakistan Occupied Kashmiris. They are second class citizens in their own native homeland. In the United Kingdom where they are ‘Free’ as genuine British citizens, forming vibrant communities with an enormous community infrastructure, they are being represented and managed by bona fide Pakistanis. Mosques, community centres and charities established and funded by Azad Kashmiris have been taken over by Pakistani interest groups in the name of Islam Politics. Constantly on British Media including the BBC and platforms like the Guardian, strategically placed Pakistanis are given the space to speak for Azad Kashmiris in the name of equality and diversity policies.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims within the divided State of Kashmir want independence, and this holds especially true for Pakistan’s Occupied Kashmir region. Unlike the Indian Republic, (an otherwise functioning democratic system subject to the Rule of Law which has stopped working in India’s Kashmir region because of conflict with Pakistan and a reactive RSS-BJP government), India has always rejected the idea that Kashmir State could become an independent country, Pakistan pretends to support the Kashmir independence cause, actively undermining it.
It does so in the name of Islam politics, disingenuously, accusing India of being a Hindu State, whilst “it” – (a neopatrimonial social and economic order) – defends and promotes the interests of hitherto “Indian Muslims”. Ironically, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was created at the behest of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who in all likelihood was an atheist. Jinnah’s grandfather converted to Islam from a non-landed Hindu occupational background (Ajlaf), with the tacit approval and support of British Colonialism. In other words, Britain gifted a piece of British India to Muhammad Jinnah’s inner circle, the Muslim League, despite the encumbants having no genuine commitment to Islam.
Since 1947 Pakistan has been a curse to ordinary Pakistanis not connected with Pakistan’s neopatrimonial order.
Fragile states, decentralisation and the nature of barriers to citizen participation in local government: a view from Pakistan – SN Social Sciences
The purpose of decentralisation reforms is to narrow the gap between the public and government and increase public participation in decision-making. However, empirical evidence from developing countries suggests otherwise. A case in point is Pakistan, even though it has a well-structured local government system consisting of three levels of government, district, tehsil and union councils.
When Separatist Politics becomes Inclusive Religion – Doning the Cloak of Deceit
To create Muslim Pakistan meant destroying the unity of the British Punjab Province and the British Bengal Province amidst a partition initiated by supporters of the Muslim League in Western Punjab. Punjabi Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslims, were ethnically cleansed from their homes in the name of communal politics (exclusion) in the new (naya) Pakistan. Non-Muslim Punjabis became collateral damage for India and Pakistan’s ideological wars.
What followed was copycat reprisals and Muslims were expelled from Eastern Punjab. Today, Muslim Punjabis constitute the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, oddly with a strong aversion towards the Punjabi language and culture because it is associated with Indians. According to anthropologists, linguists and sociologists in Pakistan, Pakistani Punjabis have been actively erasing traces of their Punjabi heritage by speaking to their children in Urdu, a language that is an import into Pakistan from North India (Hindustan).
The newly constituted Urdu-speaking Pakistanis of Punjabi descent (Pakjabis) have been accused of dominating the Pakistan State through their enormous numbers, persecuting and discriminating numerically-smaller ethnic minorities that include Muslims from different ethnic backgrounds. Lots of East Punjabis were resettled in Western Punjab, a separate and distinct social and cultural ecology to East Punjab that only shared the name of an enlarged Province (British Punjab) but very little else.
The ethnic Baluch, Pashtun and Azad Kashmiris; Muslim and non-Muslim minority groups lilke the Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus and Atheists; ordinary women, progressive Muslims and the LGBTQ, have all been discriminated and persecuted in one way or another because of forced dislocations and changing demographies. The Military has instrumentalised political Islam to justify its discrimination and persecution of non-Punjabi minorities, empowering a retrograde version of Islam to justify its own hold on power.
To understand this state of play, one must understand the destructive role the Pakistan Military plays in Pakistani society – playing civilians against the religious clergy, and its obsession with India (a strategic ploy), a country that is justifiably proud of its democratic traditions notwithstanding the increasing authoritarian tendencies of the Hindu Nationalists. Within the context of this political turbulence, the Pakistan Military has been accused by western intelligence analysts of returning to power the regressive Taliban in Afghanistan, 2021, amidst an international outcry. Paradoxically, the Pakistan Military had been empowered by the West to fight Islamist Terrorism, receiving funds to locate the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and the then head of Al-Qaida, Usama Bin Laden.
At the time, Bin Laden was the world’s most wanted man and it transpired that he was being sheltered in Abbottobad, some 70 miles from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, in a $1000.000 fortress-like home, surreptitiously funded and protected by the Pakistan Military. He was strategically placed one mile within the reach of a millitary installation. Whilst denying they had any part in hiding Bin Laden to international audiences, Pakistan’s Intelligence Services arrested and imprisoned “western traitors” accused of helping America locate Bin Laden.
Cynically, the Pakistanis were exploiting Bin Laden and Al-Qaida to extract money out of America and Saudi Arabia, without any commitment to Bin Laden’s ideological cause. For the right price, the Generals would have delivered him to America, where many purchase homes courtesy of the corruption that has made them millionaires when retiring. Pakistan’s military own Pakistan’s economy, according to numerous Pakistani dissidents and persons of conscience.
A talk by Ayesha Siddiqa, Islamabad-based independent political and defence analyst and author.Pakistan has emerged as a strategic ally of the US in the ‘war on terror’. It is the third largest receiver of US aid in the world, but it also serves as a breeding ground for fundamentalist groups.
The Forgotten Bengal Genocide & Cold War Politics
In 1971 East Pakistan fought a war of liberation against West Pakistan which resulted in the death of 3 million East Pakistanis and 2 – 400 thousand rapes. The overwhelming majority of victims were Muslims of ethnic Bengali descent who were protesting against the suppression of their rights by an Authoritarian Military Regime. Liberated (Azad) East Pakistan is now known as Bangladesh (the Land of the Bengalis).
Note in this regard, Muslim & Christian Palestinians fighting for an independent Palestine do not want to become Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese or Egyptians, (Arabic speaking peoples), but an independent country called Palestine. Strangely, Pakistan – (gifted by the UK Parliament, if ironies mean anything) – condemns Isreal’s occupation of Muslim Palestine but supports China’s occupation of Eastern Turkistan (Xinjiang), an ethnic Turkic Muslim peoples because Communist (Atheist) China gives aid to an impoverished Pakistan.
Pakistan is thus prepared to abandon its own ideological claims when it suits its elitist interests.
This platform exists for British Azad Kashmiris of conscience in the name of universal human rights based on western enlightenment values and traditions (humanism). Pakistan is a violater of Human Rights, and one of the most repressive countries on earth. Its rulers do not represent Kashmir’s Muslims or ordinary Pakistanis, whatever deceit Pakistan spreads in the name of Kashmir’s Independence Movement, has already been exposed by Pakistani dissidents and persons of conscience.
Professor K.K Aziz describes the history of the Indian subcontinent in the documentary.
Pakistanis who constantly speak and write about Kashmir, deploying the language of human rights, democracy, self-determination and international law are disengenious when they deny the logical inevitability of their moral and intellectual pronouncements to Azad Kashmiris demanding independence from “them” (Pakistan). To illustrate this, please see the example below of how Pakistanis write themselves into Kashmir’s Independence Movement.
Note the words, “Pakistan has always supported the people of Jammu & Kashmir…”) in ‘The Status of People in Jammu & Kashmir’ by Tooba Khurshid. Now, constrast the words of Ipsos Mori in Paths to Peace, “There is even less support across the whole of Kashmir for joining Pakistan. In AJK the intention to vote for this option is just 50%. In J&K it is 2%.”
So, how is Pakistan supporting the rights of Kashmiris, when the majority reject merger with Pakistan and the overwhelming majority of Muslims want independence from both Pakistan and India?
See ‘Status of People of Jammu & Kashmir‘ by Pakistani Writer, Islamabad
See Human Rights Report; ‘Pakistan; Events of 2021‘
Port + Jammu & Kashmir + Mir = Portmir
Portmir ‘or the PORTAL for a genuinely free (Azad) Jammu & Kashmir Fellowship’ exists for British Kashmiris of conscience from either side of the Indian-Pakistan LOC (Line of Control). We are not afraid to speak out against injustice, cruelty and the inhumanity of both Pakistan and India in its cruel and vindictive treatment of Independence Kashmiris.
Portmir is not a platform for Pakistani or Indian propaganda on Kashmir, disinformation or the politicisation of Islam or Hinduism, two beautiful religions that have shaped the course of life for ordinary people. Ours is a lone voice in a cacophony of Indian and Pakistani state-sponsored websites run by ethnonationalists manipulating google and other search engine algorithms to remove Independence Kashmiri websites from seach results – silencing the voice of the majority. We owe it to the West’s tradition of freedom and genuine political autonomy to support oppressed and occupied (stateless) peoples wherever they are in the world, especially from the safety and security of the Free World.
What are your values?
Our endeavours are underpinned by values that give primacy to human dignity whatever a person’s background, beliefs or identity, self-ascribed or otherwise. These values feed into how we try to understand our cultural heritage in Britain and the plight of Kashmiris in Pakistan and Indian Occupied Kashmir. Like most Britons, we want to live in an equal and fair society governed by fairness and the Rule of Law, all the while we contribute our presence to enriching life, challenging bigotry and prejudice that undermine human dignity.
In Britain, British Kashmiris are genuinely Free.
In Pakistan and Indian Occupied Kashmir, Occupied Kashmiris are, for all intents and purposes, stateless. The only Kashmiris tolerated and empowered by the State are those loyal to the Indian and Pakistan narrative, and this holds true for the Jammu & Kashmir Diaspora.
There is a sizeable body of knowledge that would demonstrate this to be the case if only such conversations were not cancelled and non-platformed by platforms that empower an overarching Pakistani and Indian identity over a British Kashmiri one in the name of an illusory British South Asian identity that does not exist in practise. BBC Asian Network, or what some Independence Kashmiris call, pejoratively, British Asian Cringe; (Iranian speaking dissidents call the BBC, ‘BBC Ayatollah’ to appreciate the level of disquite across ethnic minorities), would have BBC audiences believe otherwise.
British Asians Do Not Exist, Interest Groups Exist
Indians + Pakistanis (North Indians) = South Asians
South Asians Do Not Speak for all British Asians
Ethnic minorities in Britain lumped together as the South Asians – claiming victim status – can also be ethnic majorities in their homelands, discriminating minorities, which is the case with both Pakistan and India. Pakistan is occupying Azad Kashmir, whilst treating Independence Kashmiris with impunity. With the moral help and assistence of Hindu Nationalists, Pakistani Nationalists, claim that Azad Kashmir is not even Kashmir but Pakistan Punjab.
This is exactly what Putin is doing with Ukraine, claiming that Ukraine is really Russia, and that it has no right to exist. China claims Eastern Turkistan is its “Western Frontier”, which in Han Chinese means Xinjiang; the Chinese Communist Party, CCP, has made it illegal to identify Turkistan by its actual name. China like Russia is erasing the Muslim Uighurs from their own homeland physically, just as they are erasing Buddhists from Tibet, with no regard for international opprobrium.
See ‘Fact Checking Putin’s claims that Russia and Ukraine are ‘one people’‘; University of Rochester
See ‘It’s not the Arithmetic of Genocide that’s Important. It’s that we pay attention‘; The Guardian
We have a question for those who claim to support universal human rights, selectively, especially on the Left of Politics?
Where are you for Buddhist Tibet?
Where are you for Han Hong Kong?
Where are you for Han Taiwan?
Where are you for Muslim Kurdistan?
Where are you for the Muslim and non-Muslim protestors of Iran and Afghanistan?
Where are you for the Muslim Rohinga?
Where are you for the Hindus of Pakistan?
Where are you for the Sikhs of the Khalistan Movement?
Where are you for the 3 million Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Atheist Turkic speaking Uighurs languishing in China’s Communist Concentration Camps?
See United Nations Refuge Agency; ‘Statelessness Around the World‘
Pakistan and India’s Propaganda against Azad Kashmiris
The Pakistan-Indian claim that Azad Kashmir is Punjab is farcical given Pakistan and India were created in 1947 by an Act of the British Parliament. Both countries were forged by an imperial power. Plains Pakistanis were Indians not so long ago, their respective borders were delineated by a boundary commission. A single British Administrator created the borders of India and Pakistan (Radcliffe Commission).
Yet, Pakistan’s nationalists want to lecture Azad Kashmiris about the history of Kashmir State and its eternal Punjabi borders. It is a fact of history that every square mile of Kashmir Territory had never been part of British India or the British Punjab Province, which the Mughals enlarged in the 1500s when the Lahore Subah was first created (Multan was a separate Subah/Province). Britain enlarged its Punjab Province after defeating the Sikh Empire in 1846. The supposedly Muslim Pakistan created out of this Punjab region was forcibly split into two parts during 1947, forcing Hindu and Sikh Punjabis to flee into what is today Eastern Punjab.
Pakistan started the bloodshed. It was ultimately responsible for the destruction of the greatly enlarged British Punjab Province, of which it now claims, cyncially, that Azad Kashmir was part of. This propagandistic claim is constantly propagated across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to unsuspecting audiences. Such is the level of the disinformation, it has become an irrelevant talking point for rightwing Hindus on Indian TV shows accusing Azad Kashmiris of being Punjabis unaware of how ignorant and cynical they appear to neutral and objective minds when such footage is translated into English.
If that wasn’t bad, one comes across naive and impressionable British Kashmiris repeating the propaganda because they watch Bollywood movies and listen to Punjabi songs, whose parents visit Pakistani run Mosques indoctrinating them into the “national culture of Pakistan” that mediates such a fabricated identity through Urdu, which oddly, had no native constituency in Pakistan when it was first created in 1947. The newly constituted Pakistani Punjabis from Azad Kashmir have no sense of how they are being manipulated, and ironically by people who destroyed Punjab to create an Urdu speaking Pakistan.
It is also the case that Pakistan’s Intelligence Services have tried to change the demography of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by settling ethnic Pakjabis and ethnic Pashtun in the territory, and one comes across such people claiming to be Azad Kashmiris whilst supporting Pakistan’s claim to the entire Jammu & Kashmir State. India has already exposed this demographic shift, but it too deploys ethnic chicanery in trying to control its own ethnic minorities from becoming secessionist.
After 1947, India divided its Eastern Punjab region into 3 different linguistic States, separating Hindu Punjabis from Sikh Punjabis, encouraging Hindu Punjabis to renounce their ancestral language, culture and ancestral memories for Hindi. Across the border in Pakistan Punjab, the Punjabi language is held in contempt by native Punjabi speakers, who prefer speaking to their children in Urdu-Hindi, (previously called Hindustani), a language that has been imported from the North Indian Plains, a separate and distinct region to divided Punjab. The level of self-hatred on account of being Punjabi is insightful when the same detractors insist that Azad Kashmiris are actually Punjabis to appreciate what is really going on.
So, who are Panjabis? Let native Indian-Pakistani Panjabis tell you who they are in Panjabi.
ishtiaqahmed #indiahistory #pakistanindiannews #indiapakistanborder #indianvlogger #pakistani #indianyoutuber #pakistanifamousyoutubers #indiafacts #pakistannews #indialegends #indianmusic #indiapakwars #partition #punjabi In this episode I, Prof. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed talks in detail with Amrinder Singh about the events which transpired during 1947 which finally resulted in the bloody partition of Punjab.
Writing Punjab out of Pakistan whilst writing Punjabis into Azad Kashmir
When dirty politics becomes ethnic claims
Even experts in the field of pan-Punjab studies observe that there is no historical coherence to the idea of a geographical Punjab, which, when one actually examines how various polities emerged in the region never included the territory we call today Azad Jammu & Kashmir. It is a fact of history that Azad Kashmir has never been part of any region called “Punjab” geo-administratively.
This claim is unassailable in academic circles. So, the political propagandists then claim, falsely, that the ancestors of modern-day Azad Kashmiris migrated to the region from a primordial Punjab region, centuries earlier, oddly, well before the word Panjab – a Persian word attributed to the Mughals – came into currency. They then engage in gymnastics, trying to link ancient identities (Zutah, Rajaputra, Aryan) with modern groups (Jat, Rajput) through the elasticity of identity labels. In Western Academia, we call such ‘memories’ origin myths, but Kashmir’s independence detractors deploy such memories as nativist gobbledegook to deceive people.
To explain the stupidity of illogical claims to those who think they’re being clever when they engage in intellectual deceit, “if you’re no longer Indians today because you’ve become Pakistanis by an Act of a foreign Parliament, post-1947, (after all Pakistan used to be British India = Indian was the attributive identity), how are you arguing that Azad Kashmiris are Punjabis because Azad Kashmir used to be part of the Punjab 100s of years ago, (which, incidentally, it hadn’t been, historically)?
Only in the world of Pakistani propaganda, do daughters give birth to their mothers.
As one sagacious Muslim commentator put it, the murderers of the Prophet’s direct descendants, the Ummayyads, have now become the founding fathers of Pakistan, going all the way back to 709 or 711 CE. Just as America has its Pilgrim Fathers origin-myth, the Pakistanis insist on creating their own origin-myth. Ibn Qasim, the nephew of Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, the deputised Governor of the much hated Yazid Ibn Muawiyah has become the first Pakistani according to the psuedo military historians writing Pakistan’s Islamic history.
The young Ibn Qasim was connected to a line of Umayyad usurpers responsible for the death of the Prophet’s family. The same ideological Pakistanis claiming a Muslim nationalistic identity in the name of the esteemed founder of Islam, Muhammad, seem unperturbed by the fact that his children were dispatched by the personalities now being celebrated as the first Pakistanis. As for the Hindu Rajput Ruler defeated by Ibn Qasim, the ruler of Sindh at the time, Muslim chroniclers tell us, he gave refuge to the Prophet’s descendants bringing him into the orbit of conflict with the Umayyads.
This documented history is beyond the reach of ideological Pakistanis embroiling themselves in the affairs of devout Muslims, cynically supporting Muslim Palestine against Isreal, whilst supporting Atheist China against Uighur Turkistan. The same ideological actors support India’s Muslim Kashmir against India, whilst exploiting its own Kashmir to the chagrin of human rights organisations across the world.
And so, on one Friday, Pakistani Mosques mourn the death of Imam Ali’s children at the hands of autocratic tyrants, inducing their congregants into emotional distress, oceans of sorrow drown the supposedly devout Muslims.
And on another, they celebrate the great Umayyads who bought Islam to their country, the very interest responsible for the displacement of Imam Ali’s heirs and the murder of the Prophet’s descendants.
From the accretions of psuedo-history and illogicality, the propagandists then emerge as population geographers tracing the fictitious ancient migrations of ‘primordial Punjabis’ to Azad Kashmir. Moreover, if a word that is linked to an ancient group identity post-dates the region it supposedly encompasses, not just by centuries, but millennia, how can one then claim that the projected label in question is timeless, especially through the ideological priorities of a movement with an entirely fabricated history and national identity of its own?
If ever naked deceit had an identity, we would direct dispassionate spectators to observe Pakistani ethnonationalists in their customary habits speaking santimoniously about realities they seldom understand. In the words of an esteemed Pakistani historian, the dispossessed Pakistanis (of formally humble Hindu origins) have now emerged as the descedants of the Persian speaking Mughals. Every Pakistani today is either a Sayyid (descendant of the Prophet) or a Mughal despite sharing nothing with these identities.
See ‘Historical Geography of the Punjab‘ by J.S Grewal
We at the Portmir Foundation refuse to mince our words because we understand history and can distinguish facts from disinformation and propaganda. No authoritarian regime can erase the truth by lying about established facts, creating irrelevant talking points and distractions for those already predisposed to confirmation-bias because of their own insecurities and anxieties.
The history of what is today Azad Kashmir stretches deep into the annals of history with an undisputable link to the Ancient Kashmir Region of history, Jammu belongs to this region, located high in the mountains of the Western Himalaya, it is not part of the North Indian Plans. It has never been part of the Punjab Plains either. The Ancient Kashmir Region does, however, have an unbroken link to the Civilisation of India which must never be conflated with political projects borne of arbitrary timelines. This history should be celebrated, and not problematised and Azad Kashmiris should trace their steps back to that past. It is a past worth knowing, unlike Pakistan’s ideological lies around Islam and hatred for the ancient Civilisation of India.
British Azad Kashmiris & Islam
Islam is a beautiful religion like all world religions except when it is instrumentalised for the purpose of death and anarchy. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, honest, trustworthy and yearn for life, freedom and dignity. We are therefore opposed to the radicalisation of British Kashmiris and Azad Kashmiris on the basis of extremist interpretations and politicised ideologies that have ironically not germinated from within the Islamic intellectual tradition, or the plurality of Jammu & Kashmir society – the ethnic homeland of British Azad Kashmiris.
Popularly known as Political Islam or Islamism, the ideology in question has been greatly influenced by political thought with roots in a Europe torn asunder by social and political upheavals. The priorities of Islamism do not resonate with ordinary Muslims despite being couched in the symbolic language of Islamic resistance whilst conveniently using Islam’s imagery. Movements associated with Islamism are committed to obtaining state-power explicitly in the name of Islamic Law, or retaining state power, whilst caring little for personal devotion to God and human beings. Devotion has always been the hallmark of a Muslim Sufi religious experience that can be easily accommodated within secular polities. Muslims have lived side by side with members of different faiths for centuries. Devout Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians and even staunch Atheists have lived together in harmony in this part of the world for centuries.
The chaos we see in the Muslim World has resulted in the carnage of innocent people and the emergence of ISIS, the destruction of cities and the normalisation of violence in the name of Jihad. Militant Islamists and their less violent cadre are destabilising many societies. Their beliefs are not the beliefs of ordinary Muslims.
To blame western foreign policy for the emergence of such groups is to have a myopic understanding of post-colonial regimes. This misunderstanding feeds into political narratives that are dated, and have not produced their intended outcomes. The West is not to blame for the chaos that exists in the Muslim World because there is no corresponding western identity that demands the elimination of Islam as the price of its own security.
Western communities are as diverse as Muslim communities.
Crucially, there is nothing in western foreign policy that influences Muslim extremists to destroy the Muslim heritage on account of it being of non-Islamic origin. Muslim extremists are currently destroying Sufi shrines in many Muslim countries, blowing up Mosques of minority Muslims considered outside their brand of orthodoxy. They have killed religious personalities that disagree with them all the while Muslim States, usually Authoritarian in nature, have been lulled into silence. These actions have not been influenced by western foreign policy. The 9/11 suicide bombers and their 7/7 counterparts were radicalised by Islamist teachings; western foreign policy is merely a convenient ruse for such outfits.
To live in a free, open and democratic society that guarantees the rights of individuals and minorities, we must challenge all those who undermine this vision.
Are you pro or anti Pakistanis? Are you pro or anti Indians?
We are not ‘pro‘ or ‘anti‘ anything.
We don’t belong to a tribe and neither are we tribal.
What we are opposed to is the unjust treatment of individuals and communities wherever they live and whatever their backgrounds, and this would include ordinary Pakistanis and ordinary Indians. When we use the term Pakistan on this website, we do not mean millions of dispossessed Pakistanis from the lower social classes, but a specific neo-patrimonial order that has shown contempt for human rights.
RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal spoke to desperate Hindu families who say their daughters have been abducted and coerced into converting to Islam. They are married off to Muslim men, and ties with their families have been cut, with some saying they aren’t able to see their daughters without being guarded.
In terms of our ethnic community’s connections with Azad Kashmir and the divided State of Jammu & Kashmir, we are unapologetic in exposing Pakistan’s unjust occupation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
The Pakistan State maintains its control ostensibly in the name of disenfranchised Muslims of the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir, actively exploiting the region’s human and natural resources. Pakistan’s Military Complex is exploiting the region in the full glare of international criticism. This is not Indian propaganda, but the claims of international NGOs that have similarly criticised India for its biased policies in Indian Administered Kashmir.
There is nothing conspiratorial or outlandish about these claims.
Pakistani writers, journalists, NGOs that have nothing to gain materially by voicing their concerns about “Pakistan administered Kashmir” have exposed various human rights violations. They have commented courageously on the ongoing insurgency in Baluchistan, the huge problems in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the wealth disparity between rich and poor Pakistanis, corruption, state-patronage for the elite, discrimination of ethnic groups living on the fringe of the established political order including rural Punjabis.
Their writings can be accessed online and we encourage British Azad Kashmiris to read such powerful indictments of the Pakistan State. We believe these courageous Pakistanis are an asset to humanity and a blessing to the ordinary mass of Pakistanis who would otherwise have no voice.
They are our brothers and sisters in humanity.
According to internationally accepted corruption indices, Pakistan is recognised as being politically corrupt and unstable. In solidarity with our Pakistani brothers and sisters of conscience, we offer redemptive critiques of Pakistan in accordance with our values that give primacy to human dignity without advocating a political solution for divided Kashmir State, a political decision that can only be taken by those who are the hereditary state subjects.
By giving a space to independence Kashmiris on this website, does not mean we support independence for divided Kashmir, but rather the right to self-determination for stateless people. We believe merger with a democratic and pluralistic India that respects ethnic and religious minorities is a far superior option than the ongoing status quo in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, or independence, which is highly unlikely. If Azad Kashmir could mend its relationship with India outside the destabilising effects of the Pakistan Military, it could have a sustainable future amongst likeminded people who care about the welfare of ordinary people.
Occupation of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir
It is an openly acknowledged fact that the peoples of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are second-class citizens in their own ethnic homelands; their lands and resources are being exploited for the benefit of Pakistan’s elite and Military Complex. It behooves equality and human rights activists and organisations with links to the region to highlight the structural imbalance between Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
We recognise in this respect that territorial identities are illusory. Nation State identities are group fictions. The priorities of a Nation State may not necessarily be in the best interest of its nationals. Where a State exists for the benefit of its citizens, it makes sense to celebrate the corresponding national identity as is the case with countries like Britain and Canada to name just a few. In the absence of such wellbeing, the continued self-affirmation of such an identity is to embody a false group consciousness.
Outside the context of the Kashmir Conflict and the injustices being suffered by the peoples of the region; Hindu Pandits, Muslim Kashmiris, Azad Kashmiris, Sikhs, the Balawar of Gilgit & Baltistan, Dogras of Jammu, Ladakhis and all the other ethnic and regional communities, we offer nothing but goodwill to the genuine peoples of India, Pakistan and Pakistan & Indian administered Kashmir.
We express solidarity with the oppressed and poverty-stricken peoples of Pakistan and the world. We believe the peoples of Pakistan are victims of a hegemony that unfairly centralises power in the hands of a Military Complex that cares little for the wellbeing of the ordinary citizen. The now deposed and exposed Imran Khan won the 2018 election on a platform of reforming Pakistan, whilst tackling the abuses of power, corruption and poverty. His political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf governing party failed to live up to that promise. As of 2020, Freedom House reported that Pakistan under the premiership of Imran Khan is less “FREE” than the previous government of Nawaz Sharif. Imran Khan supports China’s ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims and Russia’s occupation of Ukraine – slaves can never be leaders; an enslaved man and women is not a slave when he or she, they, fight for their freedoms – they are our leaders.
Its Country Report on the “Freedom on the Net” observed,
“The online environment in Pakistan is tightly controlled by the government. Internet shutdowns, blocked websites, and arrests for activity online remain authorities’ preferred tactics in their effort to suppress unwanted speech. Controversial draft Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020 were introduced during the coverage period and if passed, would undermine encryption, give authorities more access to personal data, and enhance the government’s ability to block or remove online content. Separately COVID-19 exacerbated the digital divide for many users in the country, as people with limited internet access were less able to get information about the virus or obtain other services online. The pandemic was also used to justify the rollout of intrusive surveillance programs.”
What’s your take on the Ancient Kashmir Region?
Is Kashmir occupied territory? After its Hindu king signed the instrument of accession 70 years ago, the region remains in an unresolved conflict. Here’s how it all started. Subscribe: http://trt.world/subscribe Livestream: http://trt.world/ytlive Facebook: http://trt.world/facebook Twitter: http://trt.world/twitter Instagram: http://trt.world/instagram Visit our website: http://trt.world
The Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir had always been an ethnically diverse State. Centuries earlier, the wider region remained ethnically diverse because it was the frontier through which many Central and West Asians entered the subcontinent particularly through the mountain pass of Khyber. The Province of Kashmir, or what the Mughals called the Subah-e-Kashmir, was first incorporated into the Mughal Empire during the 1500s.
Centuries earlier, before the emergence of Jammu & Kashmir State (1846), the region remained ethnically and religiously diverse. Kashmir was home to diverse linguistic communities including Pahari speakers in the Chibhal region, which used to be part of the Mughal’s Khyber Province. Jibhal, as it was transcribed by the Mughals. The smaller Kashmir Vale was part of the same Khyber (or Mountainous Province) Subah.
The Hill Tracts of Muzaffarabad, Uri and Karnah, now part of Baramullah District, (India’s Kashmir region), have always been Pahari speaking areas which include the Hill Tracts of Khari Kharyali, Bhimbar, Kotli, Rajouri (erstwhile Mirpur Division) and Poonch in Indian Jammu Province.
The Mughals designated Bhimbar the ‘gateway to Kashmir’ recognising the traditional ties of the neighbouring Hill Tracts with the Kashmir Vale. The centre of gravity for these hill/mountain tracts (tribes) was firmly located within the Western Himalaya, and not the North Indian Plains from where modern Pakistanis originate.
To outsiders, these various peoples were collectively known as Kashmiris, or Mountain People. The cultural ecology of the region has been influenced by the flaura and fauna of the Western Himalaya, via migrations moving eastwards from a centre of gravity locacated in West and Central Asia. For instance, the various peoples here have no history of eating beef, but sheep and goat; the dress and cultural attire of the region has been shaped by the environment, but all of this is changing now because of cultural impositions coming from the North Indian Plains.
Modern genomic studies also bear out that Azad Kashmiris, and other closely related communities, are more closely connected to West Eurasian populations than to those categorised, politically, as South Asians, because of the actual direction of migrations that have occured over millennia. Indians and Pakistanis would like to undermine this fact of history by locating divided Jammu & Kashmir within an Indian-Pakistan orbit, a patently flawed idea, and one can see this obsession in how various Kashmiris are presented online.
The Modern Day Conflict
After the partition of British India (1947), Kashmir State became contested and divided between India and Pakistan and the internal demography has since changed as communities were forcibly evicted to Muslim or Sikh/Hindu majority areas.
Pakistan caused these forced displacements.
‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir as it later emerged was forcibly depopulated of its non-Muslim inhabitants whilst many Muslims from eastern Jammu were forced to flee into neighbouring Muslim areas. Sialkot and Gujranwala are two cities in the Pakistan Panjab that have large communities from these areas. The Punjabi Caste Kashmiris that live in such places are wrongly confused with the Kashmiris of the Vale.
These communities originate from areas in the Jammu Province and Azad Kashmir; the natives spoke either Pahari or Dogri, and not just Kashur.
The term Kashmir masks huge diversity and it is therefore an unwelcome misnomer for the reasons explained above. It offers tangible benefits for those who occupy a particular ethnic space called Kashur but little else to Kashmiris from non Kashur ethnic spaces who’ve lived in their ancestral homelands alongside Kashur speakers for centuries. When the term first emerged as a territorial shorthand for the entire State (“Riyasat-e-Kashmir”), it was on account of a colonial convention that was criticised in the early years of the State’s formation by a number of colonial writers.
Where the label is strictly geo-territorial for the purpose of identifying 17 million people (‘Kashmiris’) residing in 84 – 86 thousands squares miles of territory comprised of native Pahari, Dogri, Kashur and other languages, we are reconciled with this fact of history. This would be analogous to identifying the diverse ethnic communities of Switzerland, or Britain – (the vast majority of nation states are multi-ethnic) – Swiss or British. Similarly, India and Pakistan are multi-ethnic States.
Like the modern States of India and Pakistan, the actual Kashmir of history, of Antiquity, of Greek, Chinese and Arab accounts, of Ibn Batuta’s imagination had always been landmass and not ethnic people. Ethnicity is a modern social construct that is being conflated with history, language and culture.
On account of researching, appreciating and exploring this complex history whilst appraising the current skewed discourse on the Kashmir Conflict, we recognise the colonial legacy in how skewed representations of Kashmir have become.
The majority of Pahari speakers from the erstwhile Districts of Mirpur, Poonch, and Riasi (particularly from Rajouri), Jammu Province and Muzaffarabad, Kashmir Province do not identify as ethnic Kashmiris. Kashmir for such people is territory and not a corresponding identity. There is nothing to be gained by the continued use of the territorial shorthand if it does not reflect the aspirations, histories and cultural realities of the ethnically diverse peoples subsumed within the State. In many ways it hampers how Pahari speaking Kashmiris are being identified giving succour to disinformation about their group loyalities. A lot of these ideas are propagandistic in nature. Pakistan and India are trying to degrade the Kashmir-based identity of Azad Kashmiris to erase them from Jammu & Kashmir. One can see this in how 1 million Azad Kashmiris in the UK are identified as Mirpuri-Pakistani, despite the Kashmiri-Pakistani label also existing.
The fact that the Mirpuri-Pakistani label was coined in the first place, in its hyphenated form, to force Azad Kashmiris from Mirpur into a Pakistani orbit of influence exposes what is really happening, and the reach of the Kashmir Conflict into the affairs of ordinary people. An entire people is thus being erased from the actual memories of the wider region because of Occupation Politics, and that too in the UK.
We take deep umbrage to being identified as Pakistanis in the UK, because this is not our ethnic identity. We are Britons of Azad Kashmir or Kashmir ethnic descent, born and raised in the UK, whose forebears came from the Western Himalaya. We are aware of Kashmir’s ancient and medieval history that included many areas of Azad Jammu & Kashmir including Chibhal, the old name for Mirpur District. We are reconciled with this particular legacy because it includes Muslims and non-Muslims, Atheists and non-Atheists.
The modern ethnolinguistic Kashmiri identity when exclusively subsumed within a territorial Kashmiri identity does nothing to help shed light on all the peoples native to Kashmir State. By saying this we are not denying fraternity with ethnic Kashur speakers who want to remain with India, a small minority of Hindu Pandits. We have profound respect and love for our ethnic Kashur speaking brethren of the Vale, whether Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian or of no faith, with whom we share not only a divided State but an older heritage of suffering and humiliation. We belong to the same fraternity and accept our ancestral lands are tied with the fate of Jammu & Kashmir. We openly acknowledge that Kashmiris, whatever their backgrounds, have been treated unjustly by Pakistan and India.
Punjabi Caste ‘Kashmiris’ (Zaat) as opposed to Ethnic ‘Kashmiris’ (Qaum)
Identity labels can mean different things to different people. The Punjabi Caste Kashmiri identity is not an ethnic-based Kashmiri identity, or a territorial based Kashmiri identity, despite its deliberate conflation with myths of origin to Kashmir Vale and popular anecdotes that Pakistan and India are weaponising to create division amongst the Jammu & Kashmir Diaspora. For the greater part of a caste Kashmiri identity timeline – where people were identified as Kashmiris by “caste” (Zaat), the majority of those identified as such did not speak Kashur natively, or had any connections with an ethnic Kashur space.
The Punjabi Caste Kashmiri identity is a derivation of a Punjabi based identity that is essentially occupational masking the landless occupational status of refugees who ended up on the Plains of North India from Jammu & Kashmir – Kashmir for short. These realities were greatly influenced by events unfolding in British India and for this reason the Caste Kashmiri identity is a distinctly separate identity to a Jammu & Kashmir identity linked with the idea of a Kashmiriyat (qawm/nation).
There is no bond of fraternity between Punjabi Caste Kashmiris, ethnic Punjabis, and ethnic Kashur speakers from Jammu & Kashmir, not least because lots of Punjabi Caste Kashmiris support Pakistan’s Occupation of Azad Jammu & Kashmir whilst denying independence to India’s Jammu & Kashmir region for merger with Pakistan.
It would not be an exaggeration to observe that many Punjabi Caste Kashmiris have never met ethnic Kashur speakers to have significant interactions with the latter to appreciate the reality of linguistic identities operating outside the cultural ecologies of their own experiences.
The Caste Kashmiri identity was primarily shaped by colonial policies that classified ethnically diverse people on the basis of colonial norms – a naming convention. Kashmiri refugees from Jammu & Kashmir – “Kashmir” = “Kashmiris” – a place, sought shelter and opportunities in the British Punjab Province of India. The ensuing Kashmiri identity was couched in dispossession. It is the remnants of a legacy that we should challenge because of social and caste prejudice.
Landless Kashmiris (the Ajlaf/Kammi) & Landed Kashmiris (the Zamindar/Ashraf)
The term Kammi (Ajlaf) is offensive, and we deploy it here because of its analytical value given how it has been used historically by those in power, shaping notions of social status and prestige linked with the idea of ancestral lands (Zamindar); purchasing land (upward mobility) is not the same thing as inheriting land from within the mechanics of a patronage system in decline (downward mobility).
Landless occupational caste groups outside Kashmir State were cruelly stigmatised and discriminated in the Punjab. British colonial practises prohibited the buying and selling of land to occupational groups that included ‘Kashmiris by Zaat’ identified as Caste Kashmiris. Occupational groups were not allowed to buy land, and were prohibited from entering certain professions, such as recruitment into the British Indian Army, because they were deemed racially inferior to the martial races – a colonial social construct reserved for high caste groups privileged by the British, – Jat, Rajput, Mughals and others.
According to this caste hierarchy, landless Kashmiris were deemed low-caste.
We are strongly opposed to the caste-system.
We do not subscribe to any form of caste bias or prejudice, and neither do we give credence to any claims that attempt to historicise the caste system as a source of stratified behaviour. We will explore this history on this website irrespective of how painful it appears to people who want to hide their stigmatised past because they have become upwardly mobile in the UK (citified Pakistanis), reimagining their past, overcompensating to ‘belong’ to dominant groups.
For the purpose of the Kashmir Conflict and the stakeholders of Azad Kashmir, whenever Kashmir and Kashmiris are implied within the context of our own discussions, no reference is being made to Punjabi Caste Kashmiris except those who continue to enjoy ‘hereditary state subject status’ (nationality) to Kashmir State. Those born into this legal status, or married to people who enjoy this status are included within the definition of Kashmiriyat.
We consider Caste Kashmiris part of the historical fraternity and legacy of Jammu & Kashmir, but not part of the conflict between India and Pakistan, which is undermining a third people’s rights. Our priority of maintaining links to Jammu & Kashmir is radically different to the Punjabi Caste Kashmiri identity that seeks to celebrate an imaginary Kashmiri identity with no regard for the suffering of the actual natives. Punjabi Caste Kashmiris are being pitied against the actual natives of the State, a reality that has not gone unnoticed in different parts of the State.
Pahari speaking Kashmiris of Jammu & Kashmir State
The word Pahari simply means ‘from or of the mountains, and which within the context of Kashmir State means the Western Himalaya. It has never been used as an ethnic designator, although it does carry social connotations of backwardness.
The actual landmass associated with the Vale of Kashmir is no more than 2000/2500 square miles, out of a total landmass of approximately 84 to 86000 square miles. The old Province of Kashmir constituted less than 9 to 10 percent of the State’s entire landmass. The communities divided between the Line of Control between India and Pakistan are ethnic Pahari speakers, and not ethnic Kashur speakers – very little is known about the plight and misfortunes of this forgotten demography.
Pakistan and India, with the help of native clients in Azad Kashmir are erasing this history, and one must be alert to such disinformation. To rectify the current imbalance in how the peoples and regions of the State of Jammu & Kashmir are being treated, we would like to raise an awareness of the plight of ethnic Pahari speakers in Jammu & Kashmir. We are mindful that the Princely State was itself an imposition on tribal networks that looked elsewhere for their sense of identity, many of whom had never reconciled with the new Rulers of the State post 1846.
Aside from stating this preference, we will support the people of Kashmir Vale, the Dogras of Jammu and all the ethnic peoples of divided Jammu & Kashmir in their collective struggles against political hegemony for justice and accountability, as will as expressing solidarity with the Hindu Pandits, who have been forcibly evicted from their homes because of a dehumanising conflict. Pakistan and successive governments in India have made the suffering of Hindu Pandits exponentially worse – they have been subjected to a type of cultural genocide.
The demands of all the victims of divided Jammu & Kashmir for social and political justice per democratic norms accords with our values for human dignity. In expressing this solidarity, we are keen to point out that we have no enmity for the Indian Republic. Indians are justifiably proud of their country’s diversity and peaceful traditions, but this civic culture is being denied to Kashmiris because of a conflict with Pakistan. We hope that the government of India can finally redress the grievances of ordinary Kashmiris whatever their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
We wish Indians from all over the Republic, health, wellbeing and prosperity.
We recognise that Pro-Independence activists from Azad Jammu & Kashmir have been given a platform to represent Azad Kashmiris under a false pretence of furthering Pakistan’s autocratic agenda on Kashmir. Pakistan is undermining the cause of independence for Kashmir just as it supports China’s cultural genocide of Turkic Uighur Muslims in Eastern Turkistan having commited a genocide against Muslim and Hindu East Pakistanis. Lots of organisations that claim to support Kashmir’s independence are funded by Pakistan, managed and controlled by Pakistanis claiming to originate from Kashmir State; they are undermining the reunification of Jammu & Kashmir and its eventual independence from both Pakistan and India.
Moreover, ordinary Pakistanis have been reluctant to express outrage at Azad Kashmir’s exploitation by a State Apparatus that is recognised by human rights organisations to be ‘Not Free’. We are clear that the struggle for the independence and eventual reunification of divided Jammu & Kashmir State is not our struggle if Pakistan is allowed to undermine the people who genuinely advocate for independence.
We believe reconciliation with a democratic and pluralistic India is a far better option for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and we would like Pakistanis to stop embroiling themselves in British Kashmiri conversations with British Indians on behalf of Pakistani Occupied Kashmiris.
If the divided people of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir State were allowed to exercise their right to self-determination and the majority voted for 1) independence in a free and fair referendum; 2) elected merger with Pakistan or India; 3) or voted for alternative options, we believe the will of the people should be respected.
We believe in the democratic enfranchisement of all communities as a basic human right.
Outside this sentiment, we are opposed to wasting resources to political causes that yield the various ethnic peoples of Jammu & Kashmir no tangible benefits. The Pakistan State in this respect cannot be trusted to speak for Muslims, or Azad Kashmiris, given its customary duplicitous behaviour towards its own nationals.
Are British Azad Kashmiris Muslims?
British Azad Kashmiris are Muslims by virtue of their cultural heritage, but only on account of the forced depopulation of non-Muslims from the ethnic homeland of Jammu & Kashmir. We have profound respect for the religion of Islam that is currently being misrepresented by religious fanatics, who are intolerant of Sufi Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Some of our contributors are practising Muslims, extremely devout to the religion. Others do not subscribe to Islam at all. Some Azad Kashmiris have converted to the Christian Faith. The Portmir Foundation is committed ideologically to the primacy of free thought and expression. Our associated contributors are free to live their lives in accordance with beliefs that they freely adopt whilst extending respect and tolerance to the views of others with whom they may not necessarily agree. We are opposed to compulsion in every form whether religious, political or social, and which undermines the personal autonomy of individuals.
We are opposed to literalist interpretations of scripture, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, that indirectly advocate hatred and suspicion as a means of normative interactions between people.
We acknowledge openly as a point of confessional faith that our primary frame of reference is not based on medieval juristic interpretations of Islamic Law, a tradition that we nonetheless respect and celebrate for its huge intellectual achievements, pointing out its many deficiencies for modern societies. As part of our heritage awareness campaign on this website, we are committed to presenting the history of Sufism and Buddhism in light of its humanism as the chief expression of the Islamic faith.
Sufi Islam was heavily influenced by Buddhist and Hindu gnostic movements, and was enriched as a result.
Sufism + Buddism + Hinduism = Humanism. This belief system is open.
Islamofascism + Hindu Nationalism = ethnonationalism. This belief system is closed.
The policies of the Myanmar government in its ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohinga is eloquent testimony that the peaceful religion of Buddhism cannot be conflated with unjust policies of military juntas and political actors. This is akin to blaming Islam for the actions of radical Muslims and extremists, or conflating the peaceful Islam of Pakistan with the Pakistan Military, that committed a genocide against East Pakistanis in 1971.
We can categorically say that the Buddhist Monks of Myanmar that find justification in the murder of Muslims are no different to Muslim extremists who detonate bombs in civilian areas, or the Pakistan Army sponsored Laskhar-e-Tayba shooting live ammunition into Indian crowds.
How are you about cultural heritage when you’re committed to social agenda issues?
These two expectations are not in conflict, the one evolves out of the other.
We believe that our cultural heritage is important and must be documented and preserved for British Azad Kashmiris. This is borne out of the realisation that we are indeed an ethnic people with a cultural and linguistic heritage that makes us distinct from Pakistanis and Indians. It is indeed the case that some Azad Kashmiris have been manipulated to be ashamed of their grandparents and the associated native culture of Jammu & Kashmir. In the spirit of openess and personal autonomy, we are more than happy for them to associate with Pakistan and the Urdu language, as the chief expression of their newly constituted identity in the UK. By retaining such people within the fold of a genuine British Azad Kashmiri identity that wishes to celebrate life and openess to different cultures, they offer nothing but cultural and political slavery to an ideological project rooted in division.
As a genuine fellowship we recognise that our forbears and ancestors included Buddhists, Hindus, Sikh, Christians, Pagans and peoples of no faith. On the basis of this self-evident truth we recognise that our cultural heritage belongs to the non-Muslims of the wider region. Many have now settled in India in the wake of communal violence – they remain our brothers and sisters in humanity.
We will therefore give a space to their stories in the spirit of rapprochement with a view of promoting social cohesion and harmony, whether in the subcontinent or here in the UK. We strongly encourage Pakistanis committed to free thought and Indians to join our efforts to contribute their own voice against political despotism, write articles and comment on posts.
We believe we have a social contract with the British State, a value that we not only practise but cherish, celebrate and defend. Britain is a unique achievement despite all the controversy around colonialism. Our celebration of our ethnic distinctions will never be at odds with our sense of national coherence as British-born Britons. We recognise the fact that Britain has been a better friend to émigré Kashmiris than Pakistan and India withstanding issues of racism, institutional or otherwise.
In Britian, we have the sad reality of racism, but in Pakistan and India we have the grave danger of ethnic persecution.
No ethnic minority is persecuted in Britain.
In Pakistan and Eastern Turkistan ethnic and religious minorities are actively persecuted.
It should be borne in mind that in Britain, minorities have never been denied the right to rectify wrongs and challenge the State, its various institutions and agencies in anticipation of a just and fair resolution. This single reality has been denied to Azad Kashmiris in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and it would be an insult to the memory of Jammu & Kashmir’s freedom fighters to identify as Pakistanis in the UK.
What do you hope to achieve for British Kashmiris?
Put simply, we hope to achieve dignity for British Kashmiris and the worldwide Jammu & Kashmir Diaspora. We would like to be included amongst those who speak up for freedom, democracy and universal human rights, against the tyranny of the majority.
We cannot achieve human dignity without advocating for a free and fair society that values human life outside the narrow strictures of political and religious tyranny. A fair and just society can never be achieved without uprooting injustices and cruel practises that undermine equality for all. With rights and freedoms come civic duties. We have opportunities to learn from Britain’s democratic movements to not only celebrate our culture, pluralistically and inclusively, but address our problems through the assistance of a benign democratic culture that we reject at the cost of intellectual honesty. Islamist Muslims are undermining this distinct possibility for large numbers of Kashmiris in the UK.
We owe it to the legacy of all those who fought to make Britain more fair and equal that we contribute our own struggles to the common good of all human beings. Slava ukraini.