The Great Gama and the Migration

Verinag, is a small town in Islamabad, South of Kashmir. Apart from being a tourist spot, it’s also the major source of the River Jhelum. Springs or nags as Kashmiris call it, are also sites of pilgrimages for the Hindu community in Kashmir.

On the way to Verinag, lies the small village of Kapron close to the restive district of Kulgam. With its picturesque valley and a dense forest, Kapron was a busy village in the late 20th century.

Kapron had iron ore that was mined by Kashmiris to make agricultural implements. In Kashmiri, an ironsmith is called a ‘Khar’. After the Treaty of Amritsar, Kashmir was sold by the British to the Dogras. The Hindu supremacist Dogra regime suffocated Kashmiri industries with exorbitant taxation especially on Kashmiri Muslims.

One of the families that were in the business of iron, Khars or Bhats of Kapron suffered tremendous losses. They left their properties and their homeland, escaping from the tyrannical tax system.

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Kashmiris in Sub-continental Politics and the Irony.

The Idea of Pakistan, was given by Allama Iqbal who was originally from Kashmir, who also arguably started the movement of Independence of Kashmir.

Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is once believed to have said that Pakistan was made by him, his private secretary (Khursheed-e-Millat, Khursheed Hassan Khursheed the first elected President of Azad Kashmir) and his typewriter.

Or Ambassador Mohammad Yusuf Buch, who was exiled by Sheikh Abdullah when he was the emergency administrator of Kashmir. He worked as Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for 20 years. For his brilliance he was recognized as one of important aids of Pakistan Prime Minister, Z.A. Bhutto. He also worked as Federal Minister of Information in the Z.A. Bhutto government in Pakistan . He has also worked as Pakistan Ambassador to the Switzerland.

Another stalwart, Qudratullah Shehab the first Kashmiri to join British Civil Services and later exiled to Pakistan. Qudrat Ullah Shahab was close aide of president Ayub Khan,  appointed by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad his Principal Secretary and remained on this post during Iskander Mirza’s and Ayub Khan’s regimes.  Mahbub-ul-Haq a Jammu born renowned economist, involved in the human development theory (HDP) and the founder of the Human Development Report (HDR) was finance minister of Pakistan during General Zia’s time.

Currently, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is originally from Kashmir, His brother Shahbaz Sharif, is the Chief Minister of Punjab, the Biggest Province of Pakistan.
His Defence Minister with additional charge of Water and Power, Khwaja Muhammad Asif is also from Kashmir. Plus the Finance Minister of Pakistan, Ishaq Dar is also from Kashmir. Most of the other Cabinet also has ministers with Kashmiri Origins.

Add Raheel Sharif, the New Pakistan Army Chief also has Kashmiri roots. Tahir Rafique Butt is the Air Chief Marshal of Pakistani Air-Force.

While as Kashmiri Leaders seek Independence from both India and sometimes Pakistan, Kashmir still remains a disputed territory.

India’s movement for Independece against the British rule was pioneered by a Kashmiri Origin Leader, Jawahar Lal Nehru who went on to become the First Prime Minister of Independent India. While Ironically, he invaded his own motherland and taking away their independence. He later promised Plebiscite to the People of Jammu Kashmir but never implemented them. In-fact he Jailed, Sheikh Abdullah, the Prime Minister of Kashmir in 1953 for 23 years.

Security advisors like Dhar, Haksar, Kaul and Kaw of Kashmiri origin, in the Kashmiri Origin Prime Minister Indira Gandhi led to the disintegration of Pakistan and the birth of a new country called Bangladesh.

Kashmiri origin Home Minister of India, Mufti Syed extended the barbaric Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which paved the way of the genocide of Kashmiris from the 1990s.

The political genius of Kashmiris and the political disfranchise of an Independent Nation. What irony…

P.S: The founder of Iranian revolution Ayatollah Khomeini traces his lineage to Kashmir as well.