We received the following “comment” from an anonymous account, and we’ve posted it here at the bottom of this article (scroll down). It’s a hate filled rant intended to demoralise Azad Kashmiris in light of the issues we’ve raised on this blog concerning the Kashmir Conflict and Pakistan’s disruptive role in Azad Kashmir. Blogs like ours receive similar unsolicited comments regularly, interspersed with malware and irrelevant talking points. The Pakistan Military speaks of such tactics as 5th generation psychological warfare (look it up – al-Jazeera wrote an insightful piece).
If we could just give a brief introduction to the identity behind the anonymous comment, before anyone gets influenced by the (intended) innuendo and confirmation bias inherent in it. Every text has a subtext, and the words we use to describe people or situations elicit feelings that can either be described as positive, or negative. Stereotypes of groups can also be positive or negative, and depending on how a stereotype is deployed, it will elicit feelings, triggering pre-judgements (prejudices).
There’s a history here, and for the sake of brevity, I assume that my readers have some appreciation of Jewish persecution in Europe, Irish persecution in England, African-American persecution in North and South America. Within this context I would like to add Kashmiri persecution in Pakistan and India (Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs) and Turkic Uighur persecution in China. Before persecution of a minority group(s) becomes possible by a dominant group, usually there needs to be widespread prejudice and discrimination within the society, a sort of confirmation bias that makes it okay for members of dominant groups to oppress the marginalised group (legitimation).
Moreover, if you want to remove people from their native and indigenous lands, Occupiers instrumentalise negative prejudices to legitimise the forced clearances – this is what is happening in lots of disputed territories, note how the word, “disputed” is used?
Disputed by who?
Why do the ethnic and linguistic identities of native people become contested when their lands are disputed?
Social prejudice has a corresponding political value, it can lead to tangible outcomes. No one cares about protesting, or advocating, on behalf of stigmatised groups, this is the universal norm. For instance, there are lots of memorials for Jewish Victims of the Holocaust, decades after the terrible event. But, there are hardly any memorials to the million or so Roma (Romani “Gypsy”), who perished in the Nazi Concentration Camps? The word “gypsy” is an offensive word, and when applied to the Romany it carries negative connotations borne of prejudice. But political correctness does not extend to the Roma; see Guardian Article where the word “Gypsy” is used as a Heading. Unlike the “p***” or “n*****” pejoratives, it is not being censored anywhere. The Roma in Eastern Europe are constantly told that they’re not really European, and that they come from somewhere else, namely India. The term Gypsy, it would appear is etymologically linked with Egypt, and previous slurs linked the Roma with “Egyptians” (gipcyan).
Authoritarian Regimes across the world deploy prejudice and stigma (the subtext) in this way to silence dissidents. They target minorities (traditionally, women, LGBTQ, ethnic and religious minorities, Black people, Jews, Roma, persons of conscience, conviction journalists and politicians, human rights activists). The content of their comments bears the same linguistic and thematic hallmarks, follows the same pattern and has one purpose, to remove legitimacy from activists to speak about grievances as honestly as possible.
The sorts of individuals harrasing people like us on this blog, have read a couple of out-dated books on mind control, becoming low-grade imitations of Sigmund Freud, (a lot of his ideas have been debunked). They think they are hypnotists, who can control our behaviour by applying “the dark arts”, harrasing us surreptitiously. They’ve been doing this for years trying to silence Azad Kashmiris, even though lots of us are not part of any resistance movement. They’re control freaks. They want to silence anyone who indirectly challenges their writ.
According to psychologists who have studied the personality traits of Dictators, almost entirely of the hyper-masculine type, they fit certain profiles, “obsessive stalkers who can’t take no for an answer, domestic violence perpetrators gaslighting partners, narcissists, and the typical human rights violators perpetuating power through fear and intimidation…,” We could go on. These personalities make for excellent trolls, leaching onto people, who have better things to do with their lives than react, because they want a space in people’s minds – the very definition of controling how people should think.
When Portmir Foundation started this blog, we used to allow their comments unwittingly, without realising what they were doing. It was a disaster. They were undermining our secular liberal values – freedom of speech. If you’re scared to express an opinion, what’s the point of taking a controversial position on anything? This is was our default position.
Our interlocutors would spread toxicity, embroiling us in debates around irrelevant talking points. If you believe women have the right to wear the Hijab in Britain or America, that means women have the right not to wear the Hijab in Iran or Saudi Arabia – this is an example of universal human rights – note the word “universal”? Britain, America, Canada are committed to human rights; Pakistan, Russia, China, violate people’s human rights. Ordinary people have the right to believe whatever they want, wear whatever they want, so long as they don’t encroach upon the rights of others. These were the sorts of discussions we wanted to have on our blog for British Azad Kashmiris, not to take sides with Identity Bandwagons (social media bubbles), but explore what it means to have progressive values.
Our interlocutors ended up injecting toxicity into the conversations. For instance, we would speak about Mirpuri vilification from Pakistanis in the UK, out-group prejudice against a minority group labelled pejoratively, who wrongly identified with Pakistan, when, in fact, they hailed from the divided State of Jammu & Kashmir. Our interlocutors made it about India’s occupation of Kashmir (apparently, the “real” Kashmir) and human rights violations of Muslims in India by Hindus. It didn’t matter that India is home to tens of millions of Muslims, who have no desire to elicit the help of Pakistan to protect them.
For those who don’t know, the areas of Kashmir that are divided between India and Pakistan, straddle ethnic Pahari lands (the language spoken in Azad Kashmir is called Pahari, “the language of the mountains”). No bit of the Valley of Kashmir (Kashur speakers), which is entirely in India is divided between India and Pakistan. When the World speaks of divided Kashmiris, they are speaking of ethnic Pahari speakers from Kashmir, the erstwhile Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir, the word “Kashmir” (not Kashur), is shorthand for this State.
In 1989 the minority Hindu community of the Valley of Kashmir (Kashur speaking Pandits), some 100 thousand people, were ethnically cleansed by Kashur speaking Muslims decrying Indian-Hindu Occupation. They did this with the help of Pakistan-backed Jihadists. When the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan by the help of NATO, who then left a war-torn society to the mercy of Warlords it had sponsored, the Pashtun Taliban became top-dog in a multiethnic Afghanistan, now under the mercy of the Pakistan ISI (intelligence services). The Pashtun Taliban are currently harrasing, intimidating, disappearing and murdering members of the Persian speaking Tajik and Hazara communities (these communities are proggresive in their values). Pakistan Military moved into Afghanistan during this period of instability. Kashmir Valley has been burning ever since, and that’s when the human rights violations started according to academics. Large numbers of Indian Kashmiris have been radicalised by Islamist teachings currently being promoted by Pakistan’s ISI (for strategic reasons). These were the discussions we wanted to have with British Azad Kashmiris, to highlight the plight of Hindu Pandits (members of our heritage), and not simply the plight of Muslim Kashmiris wanting independence (self-determination) from India.
We were speaking about dispossession on our blog, within the context of undemocratic regimes, migration stories to the West, the pain of dislocation and alienation, the effects of social upward mobility (social class status), structural inequalities, prejudice, preservation of culture, language(s) and religion.
Our Pakistani interlocutors changed the conversation to “Mirpuri criminals” in Bradford, Birmingham, and Luton (note, these are working-class areas). They would say stuff like “Mirpuris are involved in terrorism in the UK” – see Guardian Article. When we decided to test the proposition, we discovered that the 7/7 suicide bombers (2005) were of Pakistani ethnic descent, Punjab Province. They were not Mirpuris from Azad Kashmir; Mirpur is an area of Azad Kashmir, thus the corresponding geographical ascription.
Our interlocutors would say, “Mirpuris are involved in Grooming Gangs”, but when we did some poking around in Rotherham, Oxford and other places, we discovered lots of members of the grooming gangs were actually of Pakistani ethnic descent (Pakistani Punjabis). They were not overwhelmingly (Mirpuri) Azad Kashmiris, but these conversations seemed odd to us. If Mirpuris were Pakistanis, why were they being identified by Pakistanis as “Mirpuris”? And never as Azad Kashmiris connecting them with the actual geographical ascription of the territory they’re from, which is the universal norm in terms of naming conventions.
Our Pakistani interlocutors would say stuff like “Mirpuris and other Azad Kashmiris can’t be Kashmiris because they’re rural mountain “ethnic” Punjabis, from Pothwar Uplands, Pakistan…” (the Pothwar is a Plateau, i.e., flat uplands around 1000 ft above sea level; Azad Kashmir is Mountains (i.e., undulating countryside, far above 1000 ft above sea level). Crucially, they were keen never to speak of Azad Kashmir as Jammu & Kashmir.
We quickly realised that this was not about offering geological, ethnic or linguistic descriptions about Mirpuris or Azad Kashmiris, but Pakistan (and India’s) political agenda to keep Azad Kashmiris within the fold of Pakistan, an undemocratic country; a policy prescription that indirectly benefits India to divide pro-independence “separatists” into different camps.
Azad Kashmiris and Valley Kashmiris are overwhelmingly Muslim and pro-independence. This is a major problem for Pakistan’s Intelligence Services, who are waging a violent war against Pro-Independence Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir and abroad, removing all vestiges of a Kashmiri identity from Azad Kashmir in colloboration with India’s Intelligence Services (RAW). The shared goal is to convince the World that Azad Kashmiris are Punjabis – this is exactly what Putin is doing to Ukraine, where all manner of disinformation is spewed to convince Russians and the World that Ukraine is really Russia, and not a seperate nation.
Of the 1.2 million British Pakistanis according to the 2011 census and academic studies, Azad Kashmiris constitute 1 million people. Overwhelmingly, Azad Kashmiris originate from the erstwhile Mirpur District (sub-units include Dadyal, Chakswari, Mirpur, Bhimbar, Kotli – Mirpur Division). It beggars belief that in the UK, Azad Kashmiris are not being allowed to express this aspect of their identity through a simple tick-box exercise;
Ethnicity; British Asian or Asian;
Azad Kashmiri [X]
Pakistanis and Indians insist on having Azad Kashmiris returned as Pakistanis in the UK. More bizarelly, we have three separate and distinct ethnic classifications for Kashmiris;
AMPK [Asian Mirpuri Pakistani];
AKPA [Asian Kashmiri Pakistani];
AKAO [Asian Kashmiri Other]
The pertinent question that British Azad Kashmiris should ask; who decided these ethnic classifications? And more to the point, how did Mirpuris [AMPK] become disconnected from a Kashmir ethnic classification code – [AKPA] and [AKAO]? If one was to argue that Mirpuris simply identify as Pakistanis in the UK, then from where did the impetus come to disaggregate Mirpuris from other Pakistanis [APKN]? Difference and separation are clearly at the heart of a Pakistani/Mirpuri-Kashmiri cleavage, which would mean the two communities are indeed separate communities.
I’m essentially asking, what were the identities of the interest groups behind the Mirpuri-Pakistani ethnic classification, and how did it become separate from the Kashmiri-Pakistani ethnic classification oddly in the UK? Was it because of British Officials measuring the socioeconomic factors of deprivation? Or Pakistanis and Indians trying to disconnect Azad Kashmiris from Jammu & Kashmir? And what was the involvement of Azad Kashmiris, if any? Native agents doing Pakistan’s bidding, perhaps?
If I hazard a guess, they would be the same interests writing the incredibly conjectural and prejudicial Wikipedia and Facebook posts on the “Mirpuri Diaspora” (a completely bogus construct), speaking about “illiterate communities that had no experience of urban living in the UK”. Where are the corresponding descriptions for Indians and Pakistanis on the same Wikipedia Site?
Furthermore, is the English Diaspora separate to the Birmingham Diaspora, if we are to accept the crude notion of a Mirpuri diaspora separate from Azad Kashmir, or Jammu & Kashmir Diaspora, or even a Pakistan Diaspora?
Why are Indians and Pakistanis actively writing posts on Mirpuris in this way?
I could rephrase this to why are [British Azad Kashmiris] allowing Indian and Pakistani interest groups, (take the example of a random Hindu Nationalist, Mr Major Gaurav Arya with no ties to Jammu & Kashmir), offering definitive statements about who Mirpuris are, whilst using disparaging language that would be considered highly offensive in the Civilised World? Why are they then protecting their opinionated posts from future edits, employing the excuse of “vandalism”? What do they hope to achieve by disconnecting Mirpuris from Azad Kashmir, and then disconnecting Azad Kashmiris from Jammu & Kashmir? Moreover, why are Azad Kashmiris always missing from the editorial process of publications and media companies producing such negative content?
This would be akin to Brummies being forced by a foreign interest group to identify with Birmingham exclusively, and not a) England, b) Britain, and c) the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. English Britons then discover to their horror when they do some poking around that the people demanding that they identify as Brummies are not even English or British, and not even from Birmingham. Worse, all of this is happening outside the UK.
How would that make Brummies feel?
Unlike Brummies though, British Azad Kashmiris are weak. They are disenfranchised, dispossessed, whilst existing on the fringe of a mainland British Pakistani community, with no one of notable influence, rank or status, to advocate for the community in the best interests of Azad Kashmiris, which needs reconciliation with India (Indians are tolerant and progressive people – not every “Hindu” “Indian” is a Fascist). Azad Kashmiris are bereft of social capital that could be deployed to remove the Pakistani gatekeepers, once and for all. Those who speak on behalf of Azad Kashmiris are agents of the Pakistani State, empowered by Pakistan’s neopatrimonial system to further the interests of tribes, clans and castes (Rajeh, Chaudhries, Sardar). This is a form of divide and rule.
Worse, there are no opportunities for aspirational British Azad Kashmiris either, the sorts of people looking for jobs and opportunities under the pretext that they want to represent their “community”. The BBC, Guardian, and the Leftwing-leaning Press have no time for the lived experience of Azad Kashmiris, because they have already built their relationships with Pakistanis, who are constantly afforded platforms to represent “Pakistanis”. In order for British Azad Kashmiris to become ethnic tokens (my apologies for stating facts for what they are), must adopt a fake Pakistani ethnic identity, either claiming to speak Urdu or Punjabi as their mother tongues, with roots in ‘urban’ Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad – a very middle class kind of Pakistan, when Pakistanis seek proximation with the respectable British Social Class. Thousands of freethinking Azad Kashmiris (a blessing for democratic systems), are overlooked for a tiny coterie of Pakistanis, who leach off Azad Kashmiri numbers, imposing upon Azad Kashmiris a completely fraudulent identity. Pakistanis are representing Azad Kashmiris on every British media platform out there, and there is no push-back.
For Azad Kashmiris to reject this imposed fraternity, would mean attracting the ire of Britain’s South Asians, typically, North Indian and Pakistani “experts”, who claim Kashmir for their respective nations. It is these people the politically-correct Leftwingers empower, with no regard for the resentment brewing in the hearts and minds of people being written out of their actual lived experiences.
At every turn, our interlocutors kept undermining the conversations we were trying to have about our lives in the UK. They would make it about [Jat], [Rajput], [Pathans], [Gujjar], [Pahar] [the Panjabi language], [Lahnda], [Hindko] [Caste System] – all irrelevant talking points. Who gets to decide what these words mean? We wanted to talk about the history and culture of British Azad Kashmiris (cultural heritage), and not get imbroiled in irrelevant talking points about India and Pakistan. Our interlocutors kept injecting hatred into our conversations (Mirpuri Jat Vs. Mirpuri Rajput; Valley Kashmiris Vs. Azad Kashmiris; Muslim Kashmiris Vs. Hindu Kashmiris; Poonchees Vs. Mirpuris, etc, (these are all mistruths)), all the while pretending to be Mirpuris, who hated themselves because they’re “criminals”, “inbred”, “fraudsters”, “thieves”, “ugly-looking”, “who look and behave like “black people” (“thugs”)…”, “look like Bengalis, but not Kashmiris”, (dark skinned Vs. fairskinned). It was as if we were looking into the souls of people who had profound insecurities about themselves, and not us; colourism is a disease amongst status-seeking Pakistanis in the UK. But none of this matters when Pakistanis fetishise grey/blue eyes and fairskinned faces explicitly in the nonsensical insights they proffer about how different they are to other Pakistanis and Indians.
Personally, aside from the outrageous racism on display, it made us question whether our interlocutors were rational and sentient beings, and I know with conviction that they were not Azad Kashmiris. We discovered that they had been leaving similar comments all over the internet, wherever Azad Kashmir was mentioned in Social Media Posts, within the context of Pakistan and India. Some of these ideas have ended up in Phd dissertations. Revealingly, our stalkers were also spurting hatred against each other, both groups pushing the line, “Mirpuris are not Kashmiris”.
They were united by one thing, the separation of Azad Kashmiris from Jammu & Kashmir.
Worse, they were spreading malware onto our devices through links, via comments from their anonymous accounts, pretending to be members of the community, when they were clearly outsiders with profound anxieties about Azad Kashmiris pushing self-determination claims, a policy that Pakistan Government promotes at the United Nations, hypocritically.
In terms of the “Mirpuri” put downs in such comments, the rationale is clear, “let’s demoralise British Mirpuris to the point they hate their connections with Azad Kashmir, and worse Jammu & Kashmir, the bit that India claims. Let’s create divisions within the British Azad Kashmir ethnic group making them feel more Pakistani than Pakistanis, more Muslim (as if Islam is a tribal identity) than Muslims, and more South Asian (as if we cannot have multiple identities), as opposed to just feeling British.” See below for a good Twitter example. There are 1000s of such tweets.
This is the line of reasoning (attack) in the comment we choose to publish here – we exercise that right because it is our blog. The sentiments expressed are always expressed through anonymous accounts that have been harrasing Azad Kashmiris across the internet. As a “direct response”, it relates to a post I wrote about how British Pakistanis are galvanised into action whenever opportunities arise to celebrate BME victim-status, all the while the same Pakistanis are silent about the enormous inequalities and prejudice that exist for minorities within Pakistan and outside in the diaspora. Azad Kashmiris are not the only victims of this hegemonic social and political order that reaches deep into the UK.
Pakistani women have less rights within their households than males in the UK – that’s just a fact! But no one wants to talk about this, not even the female Pakistanis fighting for equality, and minority rights in the UK. Aren’t women a minority within the Pakistani community? The Left has become a lucrative platform for minority vote-banks, which might explain why it has abandoned individuals from within ethnic and religious minorities it so passionately defends, left to suffer abuse, lack of genuine choice and alienation, all alone.
We’re constantly told by ideologically-minded Pakistanis, our thoughts and opinions – lived experiences, will never amount to anything. They might be right, we’re beginning to feel that there may be some truth to their contempt of British Azad Kashmiris incapable of mobilising the community. But, we only feel this way when we’re surrounded by Pakistani “Yes Men”, that include a fair number of women, wearing Hijabs, shedding bucketloads of tears for Palestine, oddly silent about Uighur persecution in Eastern Turkistan and Taliban Afghanistan. There is no appetite in our community to tell the Autocratic Dictators and their male and female enforcers, whom we all despise in private, “fuck off”!
Must we always be polite, even to Oppressors?
Why are the Ukrainians saying “Fuck You” to Putin?
Political correctness is a hindrance to the rights of the most vulnerable people – minorities within minorities.
To conclude, in the UK, we have the right to express an opinion. We can wear whatever we want. We can marry whoever we want. We can change our religion. We can even change our sex, feeling trapped in the wrong bodies. We can become ideological Islamists, insist on isolating ourselves and others from the rest of society, because “our God” demands that we adhere to a socially regressive ethical code called Sharia”, oddly codified by private male jurists living in the 8th century CE. We can walk around in Arab robes in Birmingham thinking we’re emulating the Prophet of Islam, unaware that the dress in question is cultural appropriation of Bedouins emulating the vanquished Sassanian Nobility (Zoroastrians). We can do this whilst sporting Addidas caps and wearing Nike footwear; Muslim women can cover themselves from head to toe in black garments made in China, whilst carrying Versace and Armani handbags. This was not the attire of the first Muslims. Some Pakistani neighbourhoods in the UK are now home to ideological Islamists complaining about Islamaphobia, unaware of ironies – they have no sense of what is happening to dissidents in Pakistan, and large parts of the Muslim World.
We may be wrong, terribly wrong in the ideas we espouse, but at least we can say what we think. We won’t be abducted for expressing a dangerous unpatriotic idea, and neither would we languish in jail on trumped up charges in Pakistan. Above everything else, Britain – (not an illusory ethical imperative of Muslim Virtues), will not allow us to be persecuted, because it will be an abdication of British Values. We may be naive and impressionable, but we’re ready to trust our instincts about ordinary Britons and their democratically elected leaders.
Worse for our Pakistani detractors, we can say all this even to ourselves, through our own Twitter handles – that are not anonymous and fake, real accounts they keep mass-reporting, hacking, rubbishing, following/unfollowing. So, why are they so concerned about what we write? Life for ordinary people across Pakistan is an ordeal. But, the Pakistani-Muslim bandwagons in Britain want to decry Islamaphobia on the BBC and Guardian platforms, all the while they create a space for the advancement of their careers, cynically. They have become our human rights’ defenders, sending in their CVs to a small coterie of Media fixers, who ultimately decide who our representatives are.
This outrageous hypocrisy must end. We want to represent ourselves.
Thus, my post was entitled,
The same tired mantras, the same bandwagons by Reiss Haidar (click here)
Comment Username: Ranja
[other usernames used by this Stalker(s); Hannah (my daughter’s name); where to buy cialis cheap; 3federal; viagra cialis online; Travis (because they can’t get it up, I think they think we all suffer from this debilitation); www.kwatery-waugustowie.online, etc (intersperced with links (malware, malicious software));
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org;
[other emails used by this Stalker(s); email@example.com; Portmir.org.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org, etc (intersperced with malware; malicious software)
your ideas are dead. no one in any respect takes you seriously in the Mirpuri community. This is a dead project where your public facing platform(this website) has little to no interaction with the community apart from those who find it from ur pointless tweets which similarly have no engagement. It’s embarresing going down your twitter profile that have 2-300 tweets you get 5 responses and that too from random folk. Judging by the topics you choose to discuss and the millions of ppl in the demographic you target with those posts, you should be getting 100s of ppl from the mirpuri community responding but even ppl from pakistani mainland ignore you as a troll. Don’t take this the wrong way but I’ve occasionally looked at this website for the last few years and see zero to no engagement and your tweets are similarly unrequited in attention. Shouldn’t that tell you anything? Though many mirpuris understand to some extent the vilification they are receiving either through the agency of non Pakistanis or the Pakistanis themselves, they by and large accept the criticism that is coming there way or don’t seem to see it as an existential threat as you do. Not everyone has a persecution complex that you seem to have. The criticisms against Mirpuris is rooted in fact. Though not exclusive to Mirpuris in most cases and occasionally exaggerated, it’s because ppl see the stereotypes in their day to day that they stick. Not everyone commenting on the community is a keyboard warrior sitting in an ivory tower sticking their nose up at those inferior mirpuris as you like to make it out. instead of the “boohoo me, they’re attacking my community which hurts my ego” that you have, why not be man enough to say yes some of the criticisms are harsh and unjustified but I’d be better of setting a good example and using my free time in a way that will promote something positive that will impact the community in a good way. Rather than hiding behind this blog that no one reads and a twitter profile no one cares about, how about going into the community and addressing the problems in it. make the community blameless. make them a shining example. something that Pakistanis would only look at and associate positive stereotypes. not one that ppl are so eager to assign various nefarious things because other negative stereotypes already exist about them and are pretty factual so the rest are also probably true too. be a man and don’t delete this comment if you truly believe in Freedom of thought and speech as you lay out in your final paragraph.
Note the above comment is from an anonymous account, “I’ve occasionally looked at this website for the last few years and see zero to no engagement.” Also, “be a man and don’t delete this comment”. I guess it’s a very manly thing to constantly troll people through anonymous accounts, but ironies are lost on our detractors. Revealingly, there is no mention of Azad Kashmir or Kashmir anywhere in the comment.
Anyway, “Ranja” was responding to the following comment.