Obituary:Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation

Stop Press:

Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation suddenly suspended  its satellite transmissions globally after one year of success broadcasting.This incident is most unfortunate and shows a lack of financial backing for independent TV in a climate of global recession.There was no official confirmation of this interruption.

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KBC Europe



Is another (Secular and Independent) Kashmir possible?

The Free Media and Television revolution which started in Pakistan in 2002, has finally reached the British Asians in UK and other immigrant communities across Europe. The mushrooming of free-to air satellite channels has largely been welcomed by different sections of the South Asian Diaspora. One significant difference between Pakistan and UK is the absence of any regulatory or governmental censorship in UK.

The spectrum ranges from bizarre to world class TV entertainment, from Televangelists to dedicated Bhangra music channel. The channels include Pakistani Christians and shias broadcasting without any fear of persecution. Punjabi speaking sufi Muslims Noor (light) TV against Indian Wahabi hardline Dr Zakir Naik’s so called Peace TV. Sikhs and Hindu preachers looking for donations and devotees. In all this diversity and chaos, Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation feels like breath of fresh air.

Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) which is based in Manchester UK, claims to be the “Voice of Kashmir” from Europe (read exile). KBC claims to be a non-religious and liberal media entity unlike the Jamat-e-Islami backed Right-wing Kashmir Media Service based in Pakistan.KBC is the brain child of Kashmiri Business man Najib Afsar and his journalist friends Shamsur Rehman, Tariq Mehmood from UK and Talat Butt from Sweden.

According To CEO Najib Afsar,

“Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation is on satellite in over 150 Countries around the world. KBC will endeavour to fill gap left by the main stream media and deliver, information, entertainment, educate and empower the marginalised communities across UK, Europe, South Asia in general and Jammu Kashmir in particular. Multi lingual, multi cultural KBC broadcasts in all major languages spoken in Jammu Kashmir and South Asia. Some of these languages and cultures are thriving and prosperous, while others are invisible and KBC strives to make them visible. There has not been a single TV channel catering for these marginalised communities in south Asia or amongst Diaspora. KBC is an active supporter of Kashmiri inclusion into British state and society. KBC Opens up the doors of representations and enhance interaction and understanding across generations and genders of Pakistani and Kashmiri communities.

While KBC is a Kashmiri channel it is not to propagate any specific political, religious or sectarian viewpoint. KBC is home to all viewpoints. However, KBC will strongly oppose to any form of prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, creed, ideology, ethnicity, religion or cultural background.

Our National identity is of Kashmiriyat which means tolerance, coexistence, peace, justice and progress, Kashmir being a rich land of linguistic and cultural diversity and plurality.

The core viewers or the niche market of KBC is estimated to over 30 million people of which nearly 5 millions are settled in UK, Europe and Middle East with higher buying power due to long and sustained migration tradition. Potentially the whole of Asia, Africa, Middle East, UK and Europe is target market. However, its target audience and niche market include the entire population of Jammu Kashmir along with Pahari, Pothowari and Hindko speaking Pakistanis and Indians in South Asia and across the world. But the transmissions of KBC are not to be confined to these communities. It will also cater for the wider English speaking audience across the globe and Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi speaking population of South Asia.

Today the satellite signals are carrying and beaming programmes in almost all major languages of South Asia for the population within the boundaries of South Asian countries as well as large Diasporas across the world. The South Asian media scene has been transformed by independent reporting and objective programming”.

KBC has a clear cut policy on the question of Kashmir, namely that it should be freed from India and Pakistan.KBC does not impose any editorial restrictions on political discourse albeit for taste and decency-the discussion on the 1991 incident of gang rape by Indian army in the Kashmir village of cannan pushpura caused embarrassment for daytime viewers- of Islamic cultural values of the majority audience.

KBC’s current affair Analysts, Tariq mehmood (secular left leaning journalist) and Aki Nawaz (veteran Punk Rocker turned Islamist hip hop –world fusion music producer, like Junaid Jamshed and Yusuf Islam found true salvation) conduct the English language talk shows with  “right and left wing combined punch” political debate with non- Asian guests. Previous shows included World Social Forum Brazil, Tamil conflict in Sri-Lanka, Indian Intellectuals and Left wing Tariq Ali’s analysis of South Asian Union of states. The Debate on P-ritish(Pakistani-British) generation with ex-extremist and currently a British Islamist Preacher Shahid Butt became a bit heated but the analysts handled it with maturity. There are rare moments of joy, when on one occasion Qadeer family from Bradford UK was able to track their long lost family members on the Indian side of Kashmir after  60 years of separation, live on TV.

According to Tariq Mehmood,

“Our views are often avoided. Many of the TV/Radio channels caricature Pakistanis with a racist label of Islamist extremism. Many of the British migrants particularly from Pakistan and Kashmir are not that separated from the social and political conflicts in the countries of our origin.  We live here, pay our taxes here,  We felt it was not enough getting on a sound bite of the airways here or there to challenge the portrayal in media  as “working class religious fanatics”, which we did not agree, but create our own platform for Kashmiri  community and wanted to air these views without having to worry about loyalty to either the rulers of Pakistan,India or Britain; We wanted to question the very concept of Britishness, but from the point of view of those who were once colonised subjects and also to support the struggle for self determination of Kashmir, without fear of upsetting the status quo of India or Pakistan. We as Kashmiri Pakistanis are not the perpetual Taxi drivers, pizza takeaway or mill workers in UK as the western media portray us”.

KBC supports the slain leader maqbool Butt as a national hero, not as a political figure head. On 11th February 2009 on the anniversary of maqbool butt’s death, KBC started the campaign to force Indian government to handover the last remains of maqbool butt to his family for a honourable burial in Kashmir.

The Guests on Kashmiri political shows include Hindus from valley of Kashmir and Jammu. Shiva Dutt from Jammu is one of the management team at KBC. Technical crew also consists of a number of native Hindu and Sikh Kashmiris.KBC frequently satellite-links guests from its facilities in Lal Chowk down-town Sri-nagar, interviewing Sikh activists and special appearance by Mr Sampath Parakh the communist trade union leader who refused to leave Kashmir in troubles and considers struggle of Independence as part of the Class struggle. One such Talk show became a problem for Zahoor Butt (the brother of Late Maqbool butt) when the Indian security forces arrested him after its telecast on KBC. Zahoor Butt had made a harmless comment “Kashmir is a national struggle for independence, not a religious war between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan”.

KBC supports the notion, “is another Kashmir possible?” KBC intends to be a secular people to people contact among Hindu Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists within valley and Jammu Ladakh in the neutral arena of UK and beam this cultural and social community through satellite back into South Asia. The telecast of festival of saint chamilal, whose shrine divides the line on control between India and Pakistan, and who is claimed by Hindus and Muslims alike, bitter memoirs of Sikh victims of 1947 riots and  the songs of Dogra Hindu culture demonstrate KBC’s Commitment to secular, democratic Kashmir.

The Financial constraints restrict its in-house productions, documentaries and info-entertainment shows. Most of the time on air is “piece to camera”, makeshift studios or shared satellite link from foreign or local media with inserted graphics leave a lot to be desired. Programmes of religious devotional sufi music and banal discussion about Kashmir village politics are used for filling the spare time on air.

The resources are limited; professionals are not very experienced in TV production and advertising revenue is declining. There are technical difficulties and restriction on local reporting in Indian held Kashmir. Pakistani administration is not very sympathetic to any independent media in Kashmir. The struggle is up hill but the loyalty of almost 2 million Pakistanis and Kashmiris in UK is an asset for future growth of KBC


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8 responses to “Obituary:Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation

  1. hayyer48

    You would be surprised that Srinagar (Kashmir) had, at last count 5 independent channels operated by Kashmiris, and, at least one carried the line of the Kul Jamaat Hurriyet Conference. This is apart from other usual channels. Also Geo and other Pakistani channels are available in the valley without hindrance.
    As to Tariq Mehmood I must differ. People of subcontinental origin who have made Britain their home should try to fit in rather than recreate the melange of languages, religions and animosities that is India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    I also have issues with Mirpuris passing themselves off as Kashmiris.
    Kashmiris to me are people who speak the Kashmiri language as a mother tongue and live in or belonged to the Kashmir valley. Anyone else passing himself off as a Kashmiri is flying under false colours. Mirpuris for example are a Punjabi speaking community. Mirpur district bordered Punjab and was far away from Kashmir. Mirpuris live in Britain because they lost their homes when the Mangla dam was constructed. All the inhabitants of J&K are not Kashmiri, no matter what Amanullah Khan says.What they have reproduced in Britain is a miniature Mirpur, not Kashmir.
    Mirpuris in Jammu do not call themselves Kashmiri, neither do the Punjabi/Pahari speaking Muslims of Rajouri and Poonch, and remeber Poonch borders Kashmir. Even the Kashmiri speaking Muslims of district of Doda who are indisputably of Kashmiri origin are slowly ceasing to refer to themselves as Kashmiri. Ghulam Nabi Azad for example who was Chief Minister of J&K took his post as a Jammu Muslim not a Kashmiri though his family came from the Kokernag area of Kashmir nearly 150 years ago.The other Muslims of that district refer to themselves as Gujjar, Pahari or Rajput, or even Dogra occasionally.
    It is a good thing that a multi-cultural broadcast service has come up in Europe. They should approach cable operators in the sub continent to carry them. There is advertising revenue to be had there.

  2. Shams Rehman

    First of all may i clarify that according to Najib Afsra, the Ciarperson of Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) the company or the channel has not demised. As for he is concerned it is a neccessary break for reorganising and come back very soon with greater focus on Kashmir and Kashmiris.

    Secondly, the KBC was a next setp from ‘Aapna’, the Channel the first ever satellite TV channel aet up by Asad Zia, Shams Rehman, Abid Hashmi, Adalat Ali, Shafaq Hussain with in put by several other British Kashmiri activists, artists, intellectuals and businessmen includinf Ali Adalat, Munir Akhtar, Razia Nazir, Saeed Hussain,Mehmood Kashmiri, Haji Akram, Haji Barkat, Ch Younis and Manzoor, Jevd Akhtar, Noor Hussain, Haji Gafoor and many others.
    It was set up in the socio-economic, political and cultural environment that was created by a spade of communit and political activities and initiatives including Chitka, Asian Literary Forum, Kashmir National Identity Campaign (KNIC) Association of British Kashmiris (ABK), Aalmi Pahari Adabi Sangat (APAS), KRRC, Kashmiri Listners and Viewers Association, Kashar Publishers, Kashmir Times, British Kashmiri Forum (BKF) manchester, writings of Ali Adalat and tariq Mehmood and Magazines such as Kashmir Liberation, Voice of Kashmir, Soochan-Kashmir Insight and the consistent work by scores of Kashmiri political and human rights organisations in UK both pro indepednece and pro accession.

    Thirdly, the friend who has argued that Kashmiris only those state subjects who speak ‘Kashmiri’. Well this viepoint in my opinion is based in misinformation the assumption that Kashmiri is a cultura identity based on ‘Kashmiri’ language.
    For us in Britain who are part of the campaign for Kashmiri recognition Kashmiri is a wider identity than Valley or the language. It incorporates entire state of Jammu Kashmir and frontier illaqas and all state subjects and their languages and religions. It is a political national identity constructed through popular politics since 1930s. However, it is tru that the Kashmiri identity in this sense has not been spread to the entire state and does not encompass every one. It especially has been resisted by Jammu and Ladakh because they prefer Indian as national identity over Kashmiri as national identity. However, people like Ved Basin, Krishan dev Setthi and Azad Kashmiris and many even in Gilgit Baltistan do own Kashmiri as national politicalidentity. Within that the there are regional Valley/Kashri, Jammuwal, Mirpuri, gilgiti, poonchi Ladakhi Gilgiti and so on. Also biradrie or clan as Jat baince rajput etc. linguistic Pahari, Gojar Dogras etc. of course religious such as Muslims Hindus and Buddhists and Pundits etc.

    It is like Indian idenity that was originally based on Indus river and grown into a national political identiy. OR British identity that was primarily associated with one of several clans of the then areas that now make Britain.

    There is this approach towards mirpuris that some times becime derogator not only amongst some valley people but more so amongst some Punjabis. However, becuase of that Kashmiri identity cant be reduced to Kashiri speaking population of the Valley or deny the fact that Mirpuri identity is not in contest with Kashmiri identity. Mirpur was a district and is a division of Azad Kashmir. Though it is not Kashiri sepaking area but is called Azad Kashmir because people here see themselves as Kashmiris not lungusitic and cultural but political national. That is why the movement for independence was rekindled here esepcially in Mirpur far earlier (1960s) than Valley (1989).
    Also Migration to UK from Mirpur was not staretd because of Dam. The earliest workers migrated from Mirpur in 1900. And not many people realise including British researchers such as Ballarad that many of these early ‘Mirpuri’ migrants frommirpur to uk were migrants from Valley of Kashmir (Khawajas) and were Kashiri in that respect. These people migrated from Valley around 1850 when the first silk workers strike was crushed by the newly placed Maharaj Gulab Singh.

    Kashmiri identity construction has been and remains a political process as been anyother national identities of the world. However, due to the occupation of India and Pakistan this process has been fragmented and distorted by the Pakistani and Indian political national idnetity construction processes.
    End of the day it is up to people and their political struggles that which identity will become national or which ones stay local.
    As per KBC is concerned it was doing fine in terms of its running given the resources we had. However, its business, sales and marketing sections were not performing well. Sale did greta in first two years then went down. Marketing could not take off so did business development.
    However, it would be totally wrong to assume that there is no market that can sustain Kashmiri channel.
    There are estimates that viewership went up to 400,000 hosueholds when total hoseholds of Paksitani and Kashmiri heritage in UK according to last (2001) census are 250,000. This means that so many other people were also watching it.
    Similarly, Kashmiri business community also extended full support. However, this support was not managed and materialised properly.
    Liaison with Valley Kashmiris or few from other parts of Kashmir state was virtually non existant. Other than particpation by such valley Kashmiris as Nazir Shawl, Ershad Malik of Kashmir Centre or Nazir Gilani who of course not Kashiri speaker but from the Indian administred Kashmir there was no presence of Valley Kashmiris. Dr Irshad who did kashiri show on Aapna was very supportive but could not travel from Bradford every day due to work committements. A lady refered by him was interviewed and a show was discussed and agreed but could not see the camera lights.
    Channel was suddenly first frozena nd then went off air on 8th of May 2009 initially due to technically fault but then do not know why?
    However, Najib Afsra the chair of KBC is consistant in his claims that KBC is not dead yet. KBC is not for negotiation. This means that KBC the trade mark is not for sale. It will continue its presence on Internet and then will come back with a bang in asia and UK, Europe and may be this time American continent.
    Of course these claims are to be clsoely monitered by hundreds of thosuands of veiwers across the world.
    Shams Rehman

  3. Hayyer 48

    Shams Rehman: It was an interesting read but no different from a JKLF Pamphlet.
    I will respond briefly if you don’t mind.
    J&K is also Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan, Hunza, Rajouri-Poonch(including Mirpur) and then bits of the Pahari belts of Muzzafarabad where the Abbasi tribes of Potohar trail off into Kashmir in the east and the Dards in the north, or Balawaristan as the locals like to call it.
    In other words the state is an artificial one created by Gulab Singh through treachery and fraud. India and Pakistan have the two rumps. Unfortunately they took to calling them Azad Kashmir and Pak occupied Kashmir(POK) from where this whole business started of calling every inhabitant of the quondam state a Kashmiri. Musharraf was absolutely right when he once said that the state has seven parts; one could even find nine.
    The founder of the state is a hero to Dogra Rajputs; everyone else reviles him.
    Your reference to the start of the Kashmiri movement in 1930s is absolutely correct. It was a movement by Muslims of Kashmir against the Dogra Maharaja; it had the support of Muslims in Jammu too (one Pandit also joined in Premnath Bazaz)
    But even this movement broke up between the Jammu based Muslims opting for Pakistan under Punjabi Muslim leaders. You know the names well enough. The Hindus of Jammu never joined the movement including the Hindus of Mirpur who became refugees in Jammu after 1947.
    The Mirpur movement of 1960 was against Punjabi domination. Because the Mangla dam benefited Punjab and it was the Mirpuris who were displaced. Mirpuris may have distinguished themselves from Punjabis by calling themselves Kashmiris. It had nothing to do with the Kashmiris of Kashmir who are ethnically linguistically culturally a different species.
    Ved Bhasin and KD Sethi are Punjabis who never dare to call themselves Kashmiri in Jammu their home town. They are third generation Punjabi settlers in Jammu. On the seminar circuit, especially when attending get togethers to discuss the Kashmir issue they no doubt pose as Kashmiris. They probably get more invitations that way.
    Krishan Dev Sethi used to be a communist.
    Ved Bhasin also started out as a leftist. His current vocation is of political opportunist firmly allied with a political party created by Delhi.
    I wish you luck with your efforts to create a Kashmiri identity which you say is analogous to the search of Indians for one. The trouble is that there is no community or province called India. It is a collection of states that is named India whose members call themselves Indian. But there is a very real area called Kashmir and a people called Kashmiris, and Mirpuris dont form part of. It is useful trick to call yourself Kashmiri to distinguish yourselves from Pakistanis, but why do you want to do that. Why cant you just be good Pakistanis if you dont want to be called Punjabis. You speak eat dress like Punjabis. Mirpuri is a Punjabi dialect. You have the same wedding songs.
    Some Jammu Dogras have a similar problem. They call themselves Dogras and distinguish themselves from Panjabis. Though Grierson in his survey of Indian languages in the late 19th century had classified Dogri as a dialect of Punjabi in post independence India they have insisted on it being recognized as a separate official language. No harm in that. They would like there to be a Dograstan(as a state within India). The trouble is that Duggar extends upwards from Sialkot and encompasses the submontane tract north and east of Sialkot obtruding into Himachal Pradesh and the borders of J&K seem to have permanently defined.
    The people of the state administered by India outside of the valley never call refer to themselves as Kashmiris. They are Dogras or Paharis or Bhot or Ladakhi, or even as in Kargil, Balti.
    If these facts undermine your cause I can only express my regrets, but the fact remains that you are chasing a chimera.

  4. thanks for you feed back
    without the financial backing Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation was a ill-fated venture from the start. As they they say “only a mint can make money without advertising”,yet the team was courageous enough to keep the thing afloat for more than a year.
    Some day Indians,Pakistanis and Kashmiris will have to sit down for talks, may be like Northern Ireland.The other solution presented by intellectuals like Tariq Ali and Imtiaz Alam of South Asian Free Media Association, is creation of Union of South Asian states like European Union where Kashmiri and Tamil aspirations can be fulfilled.Of course such arrangement will require free borders and free currency and if Afghanistan and North west Pakhtoonkhawa remains a trouble spot,India will never agree to such a solution.
    Pakistan accuses India of interference thru its embassy in Kabul and diplomatic posts in border of Pakistan.

    Dil Nawaz

  5. bonobashi

    @Bradistan calling

    Was that last line really necessary? Does it make the Kashmir Broadcasting Corporation more or less viable?

  6. KBC is back on air.Great news.Well done Shams Rehman and Najib Afsar and team

  7. KBC Will Return bigger and better from Birmingham soon

  8. Sardar Abdul Rahim

    Hi Viewers!! I Hope You All Are Enjoying… KBC is the Best Channel, who represent the Kashmir…
    So we can Say that, KBC is the Actual “Voice Of Kashmir”…
    Well Done KBC Team… Keep it Up…