British Kashmiris and the Cultural Heritage of Azad Kashmir

/By Shams Rehman //

Britain has the largest concentration of Kashmiris outside Kashmir. An estimated 700,000 Kashmiris are settled in Britain today. This means that every fourth Muslim, every 3rd South Asian and two of three Pakistanis in Britain are of Kashmiri heritage. Over 99% of British Kashmiris originate from ‘azad’ Kashmir, the Pakistani administered part of the divided state of Jammu Kashmir mainly from the Mirpur Division. The earliest Kashmiris from Mirpur came to Britain in the closing years of the 19th century and today fourth generation of Kashmiris is growing up in Britain.

However, they remain the most invisible, marginalised and excluded of all the ethnic minority communities in Britain. Awareness about the history, culture and heritage of Kashmir in general and of Azad Kashmir in particular is lacking not only amongst the wider British communities and institutions but also the younger generation of British Kashmiris know little about their heritage.

 This paper offers a general introduction to the cultural heritage of British Kashmiris from azad Kashmir in the context of migration and settlement of azad Kashmiris in Britain and the growth of a transnational British Kashmiri space with some insight into how in this space the cultural heritage can be positively preserved and transmitted. It includes the brief explanation of the concepts and terminology such as indignity, Transnational and Diaspora space and Heritage followed by a quick discussion of some aspects of the cultural heritage of azad Kashmir and British Kashmiris from that region. It also identifies some challenges and opportunities for the management of the cultural heritage of Azad Kashmir with some recommendations regarding the practical steps and policy for the government of Azad Kashmir and the diaspora in Britain.


“Azad Kashmiris have no culture, no literature, no heritage”

One of the rare female British Kashmiris social scientists told me in a conference that this is what she was told by one of the academic experts on British South Asian communities, when she asked for some readings on the literature and heritage of British Kashmiris from ‘azad’ Kashmir.

A quick look at the academic literature on British migrant and minority communities reveals that the academics were able to identify from very early years of the Migrant Studies that majority of the British Pakistanis were actually from the Mirpur area of Azad Kashmir.  However, due to the prevailing of anthropological approach in migration studies led by Ballard, R (1985; 2002), Shaw, A. (2000), Saifullah Khan in Watsen, J.L. (1977) and Werbner, P. (2002) a notion of Mirpuris was constructed were they appear essentially Punjabis without any challenge and indeed reinforcement from Pakistani sociologists such as Muhammed Anwar (1979). The first challenge was posed by Khan, Z in 1990s when he argued that it was time to separate Kashmiri identity from Punjabi identity. His argument was rooted mainly in the political distinctiveness of Kashmiris.

Despite a significant level of political activism by the British Kashmiris around Kashmir Question, the awareness of the distinct language, culture, history and identity related needs and issues of Kashmiris remained almost non-existent amongst the policy and service arenas till recently when some Kashmiris managed to gain access to academia the mainstream British politics and local authority employment supported and listened to by some progressive Indian and Pakistani progressive academics and activists.

Currently a significant rise can be noted in the recognition of distinct identity of British Kashmiris and their language Pahari (also described Mirpuri in Britain). However, as per the culture, literature and heritage of British Kashmiris from ‘azad’ Kashmir is concerned even the younger generation of ‘azad’ Kashmiris have very little awareness and understanding. Reasons for this can be traced in their marginal and peripheral class position ‘here’ and ‘there’ rooted partly in the subservient status of ‘azad’ Kashmir combined with profound displacements and destruction of Mirpur caused by the upheavals of partition in 1947 and the disappearance of Mirpur City under Mangla Lake in 1960s.

This paper offers a general introduction to the cultural heritage of British Kashmiris from azad Kashmir in the context of migration and settlement of azad Kashmiris in Britain and the growth of a transnational British Kashmiri space with some insight into how in this space the cultural heritage can be positively preserved and transmitted. It includes the brief explanation of the concepts and terminology such as indignity, Transnational and Diaspora space and Heritage followed by a quick discussion of some aspects of the cultural heritage of azad Kashmir and British Kashmiris from that region. It also identifies some challenges and opportunities for the management of the cultural heritage of Azad Kashmir with some recommendations regarding the practical steps and policy for the government of Azad Kashmir and the diaspora in Britain.

Concepts and Terminology

The first question following the call for paper for this Conference on Indigenous Resource Management came to my mind was what is indignity? In the academic discourses indignity is usually defined in terms of original inhabitants of a land that was then occupied and taken away by the outsiders (Sarivaara, E. et. al. 2013).   However, I was thinking in terms of those who still live in the land of their origins and those who left it and became pardesees or diaspora. So, in this context if indigenous means ‘Native’ and ‘Original inhabitant’ then ‘to what extent am I an indigenous of (azad) Kashmir? For I left Kashmir in 1988 for good and made Britain as my New Home. So, if indigenous means where you are living and settled then physically I am now an indigenous of Britain.

However, as the students of social sciences will understand that the concept and practice of indigenousness like many other sociological concepts and notions are constantly changing following the developments in material conditions, especially the recent developments in communication, travel and transportation. Subsequently, the ties and practices that existed between Kashmir and British Kashmiris have grown significantly both in quantity and quality. Indeed, with the advent of New and Social Media the whole perception and use of space is transforming rapidly. Subsequently the interaction and communication between diasporas located at different places of this space is going through revolutionary changes. Today the communication between Kashmiris ‘Here’ and ‘There’ that existed in various forms and through various means from early days of migration has developed into a kind of Real Time phenomenon. The daily life events and process taking place in various towns of Britain and of Azad Kashmir are being increasingly linked and interconnected to the extent that a whole new field of research has emerged described as ‘transnational space’. Even before that the meaning of indigenous were no longer the same in a society like AJK where in some parts more than half of the population lives abroad and at any given time thousands of ‘indigenous’ Kashmiris has been actually there on holidays.

So, yes I am no longer as Desi as those who stayed put and did not migrate but I am not as Paradesi as my father’s generation was since the England; Valayat is no longer as far away mysterious place for those in Kashmir today as it was for me when I was growing up in Akalagarh or for our parents’ generations.  Today diaspora is part of the Indigenous and indigenous is also part of diaspora in what is increasingly being defined as transnational space or diaspora space.

Transnationalism and Transnational Space

Transnationalism can be simply defined as the networks of social ties, links, relationships and consistent and constant flow of information, people and products that straddle the nation-state borders interlinking people in more than one nation-state or country.

In Anthropology, Transnationalism is defined as “the process by which immigrants forge and sustain simultaneous multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement.[2]

Basch et al (1994) describe transnationalism as a process through which migrants create social fields through their daily activities which cross national boundaries.

However, transnational structures and processes are not something completely new as they can be traced centuries back in human history between people of different regions and continents. However, the frequency and density of transnational flows of information, people and things has been evidently increased many folds following the revolutionary development is information technology and transportation fields to the extent that transnationalism has become a new field of study and space for interaction.


The term diaspora has its origins in the Greek verb DIASPEIRO which means I scatter, I spread, where Dia means ‘between, through, across’ and Speiro means ‘I scatter, I sow’. In its classical form, Speiro meant scattering but was also used to describe the migration of the citizens from victorious City States to the conquered lands with the purpose of colonisation and integration of the subjugated territories into the empire. Later it was used to describe the dispersal and settlement of Jews and then gradually expanded to incorporate most of the migrant groups who left their places of origin for a variety of reasons with a sense of belonging to and longing for the land of origin either with the intention of and planning to Return or staying connected. Before the rise of Transnational Space the concept of Diaspora Space was introduced to capture the growing interaction and connectivity of diaspora community with their areas of origin and settlement (Brah, A. 1996).

Through conversations with my grandmother (Dadi), mother and aunty, I was able to identify two expressions in our Pahari language that capture and explain the process of migration and settlement. One is Rozi Na Chatta that means scattering of the grains and the other is Jithey Baso Oovey Kashmir, where ever you settle that is your Kashmir in the sense of abode or belonging.  

So how the people from what we know today as Kashmir migrated to Britain and how nearly a million-strong diaspora has been developed? This is the question addressed below briefly.

British Kashmiri Diaspora

British Kashmiris are the citizens or residents of Britain who or their parents originate from the State of Jammu and Kashmir and have or are entitled to the State Subject.

There is a widespread misconception amongst many Britain and those in Kashmir that Kashmiri labour migration from Mirpur to Britain began as a result of Mangla Dam construction in 1960s.

“… in the late 1950s, the Pakistani government began building the Mangla Dam – a huge project aimed at solving the problem of Mirpur’s water supply. However, the dam flooded much of Mirpur District, submerging the arable land that farmers relied on. Thousands were evacuated.[3]

This claim is inaccurate by at least sixty years. As the labour migration from Mirpur to Britain began well before 1900 (Ballard, R. 1985). However, the arrival of Kashmiris from the Valley can be traced seventy years before that.

The First Kashmiri in Britain was a woman called Nazir Begum daughter of Aziz Jehan who married Thomas Alexander Cobb (1788-1836) a British colonial army officer from Ireland. Some of their belongings are kept in Newbridge House Museum, County Dublin in Ireland. (Visram, R. 2002. P:5). Yousaf Saraf (1977) mentions another such marriage between a Kashmiri named Jani and Col. Robert Thorpe in 1830s.  

However, the labour migration started from Mirpur towards the end of 19th Century. The earliest migrants to Britain were the ship workers from Dadyal. According to Roger Ballard who have carried out immense research on South Asian migration to Britain, prior to their migration to Britain, large number of Mirpuri workers were engaged in the boat building industry for many centuries. They built boats at the Mangla plateau and sold them to Jhelum and many also rowed them as the main mean of transportation between Jhelum and Lahori Bandhar.

In 1868, one hundred years before the construction of Mangla Dam, British introduced the Rail which provided a faster, cheaper and safer mean of transportation. Subsequently the boat industry of Mirpur was demised and boat workers became unemployed. Many of these workers then used the train to go to the big cities of British India including Bombay Karachi and Calcutta in search of work.

Around the same time British Merchant Navy replaced sailing ships with the steam ship. Some Mirpuris found work in the coal rooms of these ships and soon gained monopoly in recruiting their relatives and friends and village fellows on to the ships. Later some of these ship workers left the boiling hot coal rooms and ventured out to the British coast towns. That is how the Mirpuri workers discovered Britain through the means provided by Britain and they came to Britain because British were there.[4]

They were followed by the soldiers of Two World Wars. By 1950s migration from Mirpur was developed into a Chain Process to meet the labour shortage for reconstructing Britain following the 2nd World War. The migration from Mirpur was accelerated and expanded through 1960s due to two developments in Mirpur and on in UK.

In Mirpur over 100,000 people were displaced by the Mangla Dam Project and in Britain the new laws were announced to be introduced to control the migration, the 1962 Act. Till 1970s the dominant intention of British Kashmiri workers was to earn enough money in five-ten years (Panjj Das Saal) to go back and resume lives in Mirpur. In the academic literature on Migration this is called as the Myth of Return (Anwar, M) By 1970s the migration of families was still an exception amongst the Mirpuri Kashmiris in Britain.

However, in 1970s when the new Immigration Act bared the arrival of boys over 16 and the younger children were allowed only if accompanied by their mothers, the Mirpuri men started bringing over their families. The spouse migration started in 1980s followed by the elders of the families who had no one left to look after them back in Mirpur. Today at least 4 generations live in one house or two joint houses or in the same street or neighbourhood. After this brief history of the making of British Kashmiris diaspora lets now look at the heritage and British Kashmiri heritage.

The Heritage

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today and what we pass on to future generations. (World Heritage Information Kit, Paris: UNESCO).

 [Heritage] is a human creation intended to inform (John Feather, 2006).

Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values. Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible or Tangible Cultural Heritage (ICOMOS, 2002).

However, currently it is considered not just in terms of transmitting and preserving objects, discourses, values and practices but an expanded sense as mobilising historical understanding or social memory to nourish a desire for solidarity between generations. In this dynamic conception, heritage practices and industries are as much concerned with modes and impulses for transmission as with the creation of tangible archives.

As part of human activity Cultural Heritage produces tangible representations of the value systems, beliefs, traditions and lifestyles. As an essential part of culture as a whole, Cultural Heritage, contains these visible and tangible traces form antiquity to the recent past. 

Types of Heritage

The following are the main types of heritage:

  • Built Environment (Buildings, Archaeological remains)
  • Natural Environment (Rural landscapes, Coasts and shorelines, Agricultural heritage)
  • Artefacts (Books & Documents, Objects, Pictures)

Having at one time referred exclusively to the monumental remains of cultures, cultural heritage as a concept has gradually come to include new categories.

Why preserve heritage

Heritage is our link with the past. We can learn through heritage what we were before what we have become. This is particular important for places where for whatever reasons the local history and identity is threatened by stronger and rapidly expanding forces i.e. domination, hegemony, occupation, colonisation and globalisation.

We need to preserve the parts that distinguish us from others and are part of our identity. Heritage of each region highlights the distinguishing features of the region and informs us of distinct and unique aspects of our identity and history. It is profound source of memory.  Simon Thurley (2005) explains how we can make our past a part of our future through Heritage Cycle. According to this cycle by understanding cultural heritage people value it. By valuing it they want to care for their caring for heritage it helps people to enjoy it and by enjoying it they are motivated to understand it and so on.[5]

Azad Kashmiri Heritage

Last year along with a British Kashmiri academic I attended a conference on Kashmir in London with some very senior bureaucrats of Pakistan and India as the keynote speakers. During the lunch break my academic colleague abruptly said to a senior Indian academic:

‘You said ‘azad’ Kashmiris do not have any literature, culture and heritage. But I can tell you today that they do have. They have literature, music and rich archaeological sites and they have their own language but you did not know that did you? Instead of saying you don’t know you said they don’t have a language and culture?

This British South Asian academic I have known for many years was always interested in Kashmir Issue related activities in the academic arena and I was taken aback to learn from colleague that when after completing her PhD she asked this senior academic who was presented as expert on the culture and heritage of British South Asian communities said ‘Azad Kashmiris have to culture, no history and no language’.

The fact is that we British Kashmiris from ‘azad’ Kashmir know so little about or language, culture and heritage. I came to settle in UK after doing my post graduation in Sociology from Karachi University in 1988 and did not have much sense of our heritage till recently. Indeed, even when I became aware of the significance of history and heritage of Kashmir, I had little information and understanding of the heritage of (azad) Kashmir.  I was of the view that AJK is an insignificant little piece of land with no history and no culture and language and of course no literature – no heritage worthy of exploring, preservation and dissemination. Even when I became actively involved in the politics of Kashmir Issue there was little awareness about the heritage of AJK. So, we always provided and displayed the objects and literature about Kashmir valley in our public awareness gatherings. 

However, through such experiences as Chitka, first Pahari-Pothwari magazine from Britain, Aapna Channel, the first satellite TV channel by British Kashmiris and Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) Channel and interaction with more learned people of South Asia and other British communities, I gained some awareness of the distinct cultural heritage of the areas of Kashmir where I was born, grown up and migrated from. 

For the first time when I started thinking about ‘our’ language and culture when I was introduced by a writer, activist, intellectual friend Tariq Mehmood, of Kashmir Valley descendant from Pothwar region of Pakistan, to an African writer Ngugi’s book ‘Decolonising the Mind’. After this reading I started to see language as more than words and sentences for reading and writing mainly for exams and something needed to read and write literature and socio-political analysis that had little to do with the reality of where I came from and where I was settled. For the first time, I started taking interest in language as the carrier of culture and heritage. For Ngugi, language conveys a culture’s standards and values which can be picked only if you have good grasp of that language. [6]

In this context when we look at the state of heritage of Azad Kashmir it seems that first and foremost challenge is to initiate the first element of the Heritage Cycle that is understanding the importance of the Heritage. One image that reflects the state of heritage in Azad Kashmir is that of the Ragunath Temple in Mirpur near the Khangaha (Shrine) of what according to some claims is Miraan Shah which when comes out of the water is repaired and decorated but the temple is left to gradually turn into ruins. This shows that time is running out fast for the restoration not only of the temple but the heritage of Azad Kashmir in general because if not preserved all types of heritage will disappear into unwritten history. I have included some examples of Azad Kashmiri heritage below which are waiting to be identified, collected, preserved and disseminated not only in ‘azad’ Kashmir but also across the Line and amongst the diaspora across the world. The information is mainly from personal observations and conversations with the elder generation of British Kashmiris.


There was a long-standing tradition of writing letters in Pahari, Pothwari and or Punjabi and probably in Gojari as well by the people of our areas who had to go for away lands for earning better living by selling their labour or fighting in wars.  And that tradition according to some elders goes far back than the migration to Britain in the late 19th century. So, it will be a great heritage asset if some of these letters can be traced. In addition to their linguistic significance they can contribute in our understanding of what was going on in society at that time in Kashmir and in Britain or in any other places our people wrote to and from. With the introduction of tape recorder, the letters were also recorded on tapes (Reheels) which can provide some insight to various aspects of life and can be a valuable link with our recent social past.

Migration documents and artefacts

There must be some documents people may have about the migration and work including passports/travelling documents, work letters, certificates, photos for example working on ships or any documents about any aspect of life then.


For long time, I was under this impression, and many still are, that Mian Mohammed Bakhash was the only writer of any significance in the whole of what we call (azad) Kashmir. I had that impression because the impression was made through the school books and the literature available in public space mainly by the Pakistani ‘official’ writers and journalists who view AJK through the Punjabi and Pakistani prisms. Subsequently, we became aware of only those aspects of our existence (including history and heritage and literature) which they acknowledged and made available publicly. However, once you gain access to the wider knowledge and information sources you learn that there is much more beyond the officially defined and confined places and spaces.

According to Ali Adalat, a renowned Pahari writer, Mian Zaman Chan, Neik Alam, Mohamed Shah Khaniyahara Shareef who wrote Peer Ki Heer, Bakhshi, Moulvi Abdullah Siakhavi were prolific writers of Mirpur. I am sure there will be many more from Poonch and Muzaffarabad divisions. Their writings can provide great insight to the life of our areas during their times.

Heritage of the Political Struggles

The state of Jammu Kashmir was the first one amongst over 600 princely state where the modern political struggle was emerged with the first public meeting held in 1920 of the Kashmiri peasants and workers. This meeting was called and addressed by Sardar Budh Singh who belonged to Mirpur and who wrote several books and booklets about the lives and problems of peasants and ordinary people of the state. None of those booklets are available today even for research purposes.

I was not aware till I went to the Indian Office Library in 1990 that two activists of Mirpur Subah Sadiq and Walyat Khan (Bata Khan) were hanged and dozens were imprisoned following the peasants’ and farmers’ rebellion against the unfair revenue introduced in 1930s.  Obviously, there are hidden histories of other regions as well that can only be unearthed and made available to next generations through a systematic research and collection of anything that can shed light on the history of the respective regions.  Abdul Hassan Asim of Kotli from Sheffield who is running a college in Bagh now told recently that he identified and have preserved the grave of one of the 1932 activists Lal Badsha. He is also in process of writing story of the rebel. The purpose of this example is to prove that with some efforts the lost heritage can be found and preserved.

In the recent history of Azad Kashmir – a huge uprising was erupted in Poonch about which not much is available … some people must be around with the stories about what happened. A great field for the research project and oral history gathering.

Archaeological sites 

Recently Dr Mohsin Shakeel of Aalmi Pahari Sangat and Saeed Asad of NIKS shared pictures on facebook of an ancient archaeological site found near Chitarparri.

It was in 2011 or 12 that I was visiting Sheen Kahass near Dalyah Jatan and Chowk Saibaan etc that I saw a huge image of some human or Devta on a rock at some height. After little probing from the local people it emerged that this was an ancient pathway and some related stories. Of course, with archaeological expertise and tools such sites can provide wealth of knowledge about our ancient history.  

Dr Mohsin who briefly worked in the AJK Tourism department, along with his many friends has laid the foundation on which the heritage work can be developed into something more structured, meaningful and sustainable.

Food cuisines

Those of us who grown up in poverty and hardly had enough to eat perhaps find it hard to imagine that there could be anything learnt from the food. I am one of them. I can imagine little other than saag roti, march piyaz, and goshat or murgha and halva or kheer or sawayaan in sweet on very special occasions. Of course, lassi makhan and kiyho for those who could afford. However, I am sure there must have been more interesting and rich and unique dishes available in some prosperous parts and families of the State or even before the formation of the state. The world food varieties are more popular in the world today, especially in the prosperous parts of the world.


Tools of production and others used for a range of purposes including cooking and other household chores are another material or tangible source that tells a lot about the social and cultural world of the time. And I am sure in many households across the AJK some of these tools be persevered either consciously or unconsciously laying in some unused part of the house or village.


Some people of all cultures at all times develop some interest in some parts of life which fall into the fields of creation/invention and Art. So, the remains of artefacts are another valuable source that provides important information about the life and society around them. There is a great need for the relevant organisations and individuals to explore and collect artefacts from different parts of AJK.


I can remember Safa, Pagg, Kula, Shumla and parna before Topies of different colours representing various persuasions and associations. Similarly, I can remember Tehnvat, Tohotti and Lacha before Shalwar and Pajama and trousers. And Kurti and Kurta before Qameez and shirts etc. as we know the ladies clothing also went through several changes and collection of all types of olden clothing would be of a great interest for younger generation … and all of these pieces of cultural heritage will not be of interest only for younger generation in AJK or other side of Kashmir or Kashmiris and Pakistani and Indians inside these countries but also for diaspora in Britain and other western countries and Middle East. 

Oral History

One of the richest source of recent history of any region is the generation that lived through the recent history. Oral history is collected through right questions and when collect oral history do not ask about the history they read or were taught but the lives they lived, their own personal experiences and observations.

Heritage homes

Heritage homes need to be created in real and cyber. At universities and each district tehsil and town committee level. Don’t have to be huge mansions. Just small but secured rooms. People of the area should be made well aware of these homes and whoever find any piece of heritage should handover there where every piece must be registered with all the relevant details.

Challenges and Opportunities

As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said over 2500 years that the ‘change is only constant in life’ and Pakistani poet philosopher of Kashmiri heritage Dr Iqbal captured it in poetry ‘Sabat eik Taghayer ko Hai Zmaney mein’. However, change while opens up new opportunities it also throws up new challenges in every aspect of life. A quick look around us would show that the changes mentioned above in terms of migration, travel, transportation and communication offers new opportunities and challenges for preservation, dissemination and transmission of heritage. Only a list of these is included below as the detailed analyses will require another paper. 


  • Globalisation and transnationalism has opened up the space to wider forces both multinational corporation and Pakistani private companies. That offers opportunities to them to exploit local untapped heritage but is a challenge for the Azad Kashmiri government and people to protect and preserve their cultural heritage.  
  • Theft and commercialisation of heritage by local influential people is another challenge that the people of Azad Kashmir are facing. Even the elites of AJK society allegedly in collaboration with some Pakistani grave diggers with the information from the offspring of non Muslims who fled AJK in 1947 were caught digging graves in Rawalakot city of azad Kashmir.[7]
  • Absence of local history and heritage from the education curriculum is something that has kept the understanding and preservation of heritage at very low in the interests and ambitions of the younger generations. This also contributes in not realising the worth of our local cultural heritage.
  • In a culture with growing tendency of measuring everything in monitory terms it is a huge challenge to invest time, energy and resources on the preservation and development of cultural heritage.
  • Another challenge in AJK, which is not confined to the heritage field, is that institutions are weaker than the personalities that run them. Subsequently, although rules and regulations exist in theory, the practices are usually dependent on the heads of departments. Combined with the dependency of institutions on the ruling party and corrupt elites of the controlling state of Pakistan, this then hinders the continuity and evolution of institutions.
  • Like most other aspects of life academic research is driven by the monitory or status gains. This leaves the social sciences in general and heritage research in particular at the lower levels of priorities.


  • While the globalisation and transnationalism has opened up the doors of Azad Kashmir for the corporate interests that is a challenge but with some thinking and planning this can be turned into an opportunity by properly preserving and safeguarding our cultural heritage and developing the tourism related infrastructure. Another opportunity the exposure to world has opened up and that can be availed for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage is the access to the relevant new knowledge and skills.
  • While there are, several issues facing AJK, there are some healthy signs of modern society. One of them is the emergence of new Civil Society space, though still in its infancy but has the potential to create space and encourage heritage development and representation in global heritage arenas through transnational networks of diaspora in UK, Europe, USA and Canada.
  • Recently, Azad Kashmir as witnessed a significant upsurge in media especially newspapers, video production and social media. Combined with tourism and heritage department these new developments can play pivotal role in the development of cultural heritage. The meaningful use of media and social media can enhance the awareness about our cultural heritage and its development and transmission to coming generations.
  • As this initiative by the Azad Kashmir university shows further research on various aspects of cultural heritage in AJK and in Diaspora can unearth the hidden heritage and feed to the relevant policies of the government for the collection, preservation and development of heritage.  


Recently I have come across a Facebook page called ‘Chattroh’s History and Heritage Society’ where people have shared some fascinating pictures and images of the rich heritage of the village there in Dadyal and here in Britain. This is an excellent example of heritage preservation and promotion in the age of transnational space. In addition to that there is a tremendous potential in diaspora to provide financial resources, knowledge and skills for the development of heritage related initiatives in Azad Kashmir as diaspora investment that is currently confined to health and education charities can be expanded with some motivation and incentives from the AJK government and diaspora associations to include heritage development initiatives.


  1. Anwar, M. (1996), ‘The Myth of Return, Pakistanis in Britain’, Heinemann, London.
  2. Ballard, R. (1994), ‘Des Parades: the South Asian Presence in Britain’, C.Hurst &Co. London.
  3. Ballard, R. (2002), ‘The South Asian Presence in Britain and its transnational connections’, in Singh, H. and Verteco, S. (ed) Culture and Economy in South Asian Diaspora’, Routledge, London.
  4. Basch et al (1995) Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch and Cristina Szanton Blanc in Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 48-63 Published by: The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research Stable
  5. Boswell, R. (2008), ‘ Challenges to Identifying and Managing Intangible Cultural Heritage’, Imprimerie Graphiplus, Dakar.
  6.  Brah, A. (1996), ‘Cartographies of Diaspora: contesting identities’, Routledge, London.
  7. ICOMOS, International Cultural Tourism Charter. Principles And Guidelines For Managing Tourism At Places Of Cultural And Heritage Significance. ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee. 2002. 
  8. John Feather, Managing the documentary heritage: issues fro the present and future. In: (Gorman, G.E. and Sydney J. Shep [eds.]), Preservation management for libraries, archives and museums. London: Facet. 2006, pp. 1-18. 
  9. Saraf, Y. (1977), ‘Kashmiris Fight for Freedom’, Ferozsons, Lahore.
  10. Sarivaara, E. (2013), ‘Who is Indigenous?’, European Scientific Journal, Special Edition, Vol. 1.
  11. Simon Thurley, Into the future. Our strategy for 2005-2010. In: Conservation Bulletin [English Heritage], 2005 (49).
  12.  Thurley, S. (2005), ‘Into the Future: our Strategy for 2005 – 2010’, English Heritage.
  13. Visram, R. (2002), ‘Asians in Britain: 400 years of history’, Pluto Press, London.

[1] This paper was originally written for the 1st International Conference on “Indigenous Resource Management, Challenges and Opportunities”, held at the University of Management Sciences and Information Technology, Kotli, Azad Kashmir on April 14-15, 2016.



[4] According to Ballard similar routes were used by the workers from Attack in Pakistan and Sylet in Bangal now Bangladesh.

[5] accessed 14/01/2017.

[6] This is a fascinating book and anyone who is interested in knowing and understanding the process of colonisation, imperialism and hegemony of the powerful over the weaker people and the erosion of their cultural and linguistic heritage must read Ngugi, of course with the caution that reality of every region is different with its own specificities.

Source : This article was first published by Academia.

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