Saturday, 16 November 2013

Mirpur - A City In The Pakistani Province Of Azad Kashmir

Mirpur is an important city in the Pakistani province of Azad Kashmir. It is most famous for its émigré community which has mostly emigrated to United Kingdom & to some extent to Norway. Mirpur, Azad Kashmir has strong ties with various cities in UK, especially Bradford in Yorkshire County. Initially emigrants from Mirpur were not very well educated but new emigrants mostly have high school diplomas and a sizable percentage has a university degree. Mirpur diaspora has kept strong links with the home country of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan and due to their extreme lobbying; Pakistani government is now building an international airport in Mirpur. Once this airport is complete, the connection between the current generation of diaspora Mirpuris and the homeland of their forefathers will become even stronger. This will also encourage cultural exchange and improve bilateral understanding.

Mirpur is known for its grand buildings and large bungalow-houses. The production of electricity, through Mangla Dam makes this district somewhat unique in the entire region which provides energy needs for Azad Kashmir and Northern Punjab. There are plans in place to generate more electricity via Neelum Jehlum project which will make Azad Kashmir one of the main producers and exporters of electricity in the Pakistani federation. Diameer Bhasha dam in Gilgit Baltistan has acquired an extreme importance in this context as Pakistan is currently energy deficient and this dam will go a long way in improving the energy situation in all Pakistani provinces including Azad Kashmir & Gilgit Baltistan. Lack of power is hurting industry & job creation all over Pakistan and there is a need for emergency short term & medium to long term plans to make sure that lights stay on in foreseeable future. Due to lack of energy Pakistan has lost hundreds of thousands jobs in the textile sector to Bangladesh and India.

After the independence of Pakistan from the British Raj in 1947, Mirpur and Jehlum have a proud history of service in the Pakistan Army. People from Azad Kashmir including Mirpur have served in the Pakistan army to counter invasions from India in 1948, 1965 & 1971.

Mirpur was previously associated largely with the field of agriculture but it is now expanding its industrial case by giving incentives for businesses to locate their business in Azad Kashmir and

In 1947, in  Mirpur,  a revolt erupted and this gained momentum by the invasion of Pushtun tribesmen from FATA. Most of Kashmir's state forces had barricaded themselves in Mirpur after having retreated from the surrounding posts in particular from Mangla Fort. On the outskirts of the city, the local rebels, being mainly retired army personnel from British and state's armies and defectors from the state's army, attacked the Maharaja's forces on 4 November 1947. Between 6 and 11 November, heavy battles between the former and Indian forces took place within the city. Mirpur city was captured by local rebels on 11 November and the rest of Mirpur district was captured by 25 November 1947.

After World War II a new set of opportunities opened up.Britain's economy was just setting off on what proved to be a long post-war boom, and there was an
acute short of labour in the foundries of the Midlands, and the textile mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Now it was the turn of ex-seamen to become industrial workers in Britain. So when the Mangla Dam was about to be constructed in 1960, the affected of the dam who were going to be deprived of their agricultural land were afforded the opportunity to migrate to the United Kingdom and to join those of their kinsfolk who long before had established themselves in Britain.

As a result, Mirpur is one of the principal sources of migration from the province of  Azad Kashmir to Europe, and especially to Britain, so much so that out of a million migrants from the province of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan, most of them i.e. 82% are Kashmiris. Although it is widely believed that the principal reason for this outflow was the construction of the Mangla Dam, which in no doubt is true, but the fact is that long before construction of dam, a sizable Kashmiri community existed in the UK.

The New Mirpur city has been well planned with construction of modern designed buildings and ample roads serving each part of city. The affluence brought on by immigration mainly to the UK is reflected by the structure and grandiose of the residential houses. There are tell-tale signs of inward investment by the expatriate community living in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and the Middle East. The city has a number of good hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and other urban facilities.

The Government of Azad Kashmir has successfully endeavoured to develop Mirpur as an industrial place and promote private investment for establishing, foam, polypropylene, synthetic yarn, motorbikes and scooter, textile, vegetable Oil (Ghee), wood and sawmills, soap, cosmetics, marble, ready-made garments, matches and rosin, turpentine industrial units in the area. However, much of the infrastructure still needs improvement to obtain very high quality products.

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