Farah Pandith, the Kashmir Connection

News! Now US State Department has an office of Special Representative to Muslim Communities (SRMC), and Hillary Clinton has appointed Farah Pandith as its head. So, who is Farah Pandith?
According to the State Department press release,

Pandith, a Muslim, immigrated to the United States with her parents from Srinagar, India. She has said that she sees her personal experience as an illustration of how Muslim immigrants to the US can successfully integrate themselves into American society. She grew up in Massachusetts with a diversity of faiths, ethnicities and perspectives.

Farah PandithSo, Pandith is of Indian Kashmiri origin, coming from the same region as this blogger. According to this news report from India, her folk in Baghat-e-Barzulla in Srinagar are celebrating, and rightly so. The report also says that her family comes from the North Kashmir town of Sopore, which has been famous for its apple trade in better times, but in the last two decades it has been the hub of Islamic terrorism. Looks like Farah can start charity at home, by converting the people in Sopore to “America loving Muslims”. I remember (from 1980s) that there used to be a prominent family of Samad Pandith in Sopore and they used to own the lone Samad Talkies theater in the town. Most likely Farah belongs to this family. Most movie theaters in Kashmir were burnt down or closed during the ascent of Islamic militancy in the early 1990s, and if I remember correctly Samad Talkies was razed to the ground too, as were most houses that non-Muslims vacated in the town. In the eyes of these separatist militants, these were all symbols of Indian/Hindu culture, which they had disowned a few generations ago. Read this interesting article about the sweet-sour relationship of Kashmir with Bollywood movies.
Some people may wonder if Pandith is not a Hindu last name? No, she seems to be a full blooded Kashmiri Muslim, which makes her fully eligible for the post of SRMC. There are many last names among Kashmiri Muslims that are similar to Hindu last names, and Pandith is the most obvious among them; this seems to reflect the fact that these are more recent converts from Kashmiri Hindus (a community now mostly exiled from Kashmir). While Kashmiri Hindus use Pandit or Pandita, Muslims spell it as Pandith, reflecting its Kashmiri pronunciation. Other such last names that are identifiable with Hindus are Bhat/Butt, Kaul, Raina, Dar/Dhar, etc. Other surnames, with Kashmiri etymology, and used by both communities are Kachroo, Mattoo, Makroo, etc.
Anyway, coming back to Farah Pandith, let us hope that she will be able to bridge the divide and make America a less hated country in the Muslim world. Listen and watch how Farah feels about the issue.






13 responses to “Farah Pandith, the Kashmir Connection”

  1. Laxmi N. Gupta Avatar

    Thanks for a very informative post and also the you-tube clip. I was not aware that extra h makes Pandith a Muslim name.

  2. farooq Ahmad Avatar
    farooq Ahmad

    It meimmense pleasure to see a daughter of Kashmir having earned name and fame, not only among muslim countries but accross the globe for her ability to find a place in US Adminstration. Our hats off. She is a bridge between the muslims and the rest of communities. I hope she can devliver with vision, wisdom, logic and pragmatism. The misunderstandings among the Western countries n rest of the world about Islam need to be clarified first with substance then the things will fall in line. She is an ambassedor of Islam with an opportunity to work for the Muslim interests at large under the US adminstration . It can benifits both the US and the Muslims as well. I wish her a great success in his mission .
    Farooq Hakeem
    Sopore Kashmir

  3. Vinayak Avatar

    Great read and thanks for the info. on cinema hall!

  4. Khwaja Aftab Ali, USA Avatar
    Khwaja Aftab Ali, USA

    An Indian – American Farha Pandith is recently been appointed US Special Representative for Muslim world. Her talent and intelligence is above discussion and her appointment to this high office is in result of equal opportunities for all in USA. But her mission for Muslim world while having a Hindu last name and American way of life-dress etc, being brought up and studied in USA, is full of doubts. I am not very optimistic about her mission in multilingual Muslim world. It would have been much better to give her a job of mediation between Pakistan and India for an old dispute of Kashmir as she is of Kashmiri origin. Muslim world is headed by two leading nations of Iran and Saudi Arabia and then further divided in to Arab, African and Asian divisions. Non Arab Muslims live in many leading countries and in my opinion an Indian- American young lady may not be the right person to bring or influance this complex community of the world. Generaly USA is consider a friend of currupt rulers of Muslim world having no concern with the poor and unducated Muslims.This is my opinion based on my multi cultural background and languages skill but any way I wish Ms. Pandith best of luck. Khwaja Aftab Ali, Advocate & I.P. Attorney ( former Secretary, Iranian Embassy, Saudi Arabia.1975-1988) presently living in Orlando, Florida. USA

  5. Sanjay Avatar

    I think her main task is to teach the world to behave humanly, stop fights and save the costly human blood; so as to lead to peace and prosperity. Let there be friendship throughout.

  6. Yogendra Kolhe Avatar
    Yogendra Kolhe

    Why did Raina,Pandit, Kaul, Mattu and Bhatta convert? They were the so called upper caste and did not face any harasment from Hindus? Why conversion then? Is it because Muslims persecuted them? Wasnt whole Pakistan and Bangla Desh once Hindu? Arnet these convert begots spreading terror in the whole world? If only their God is true what about Gods of other faiths?

  7. Khawaja javid iqbal pandith Avatar
    Khawaja javid iqbal pandith

    Hi i am looking for my relatives in sirinagar kashmir.My father migrated in 1947 from indian kashmir (sopur District)My fathers name is Khawaja Abdul Samad pandith(late). he was know as Ashur pandith there the village name is Doru zangir. so i will be greatfull to you for your help in this regard.
    Thanks and Allaha hafiz

  8. nadeem Avatar

    hello mr khawaja javed iqbal saheb..i am also from sopore and i currently live thr…u could just mail me if u r looking for ur relatives back in sopore and kashmir with details ..hope i could help u out

  9. kji pandith Avatar
    kji pandith

    hi nadeem sahib thanks a lot i m really great full to u for Ur response but dear i dnt have ur mail id so impossible to contact u anyway if u have any information regarding my relatives from pandith family in doru zangir u can mail me on my yahoo id which is kjip_pak@yahoo.com
    with best regards Allaha hafiz

  10. kji pandith Avatar
    kji pandith

    Hi nadeem sahib i m giving u the following names of my relatives there in sopur doruzangir kashmir which could be helpfull to u for in this regard.
    1 Khawaja Ghulam Rasool pandith (late) my grand father
    2 khawaja khaliq pandith
    3 khawaja ghulam pandith
    4 sona pandith
    5 hassan pandith
    plz look for the above people may be u can be help me to contact with them Allaha hafiz

  11. Kashmiri person Avatar
    Kashmiri person

    Pandits spell it as “Pandit” or “Pandith” (with the “h”). I guess Farah Pandith falls in the latter camp! Anyway, her surname is clearly indicative of her Kashmiri Pandit past. In fact, the majority of Muslims of Kashmir are converts, who were previosuly the Saraswat Brahmins (Kashmiri Pandits). Anyway, proud to see a fellow Kashmiri making a good name for herself in the international platform.

  12. Kaul Avatar

    @Kashmiri Person
    You are right. Kashmiri Hindus mostly spell it as Pandit or Pandita. However, if you notice the traditional Kashmiri pronunciation, it is often pronounced as Pandith. It is correct that most Muslims in the region are converts from Hinduism, and some are more recent converts. That in no way means a recent convert is any less of a Muslim. In my opinion, one’s religious views mostly come from what one is born as. It has nothing to do with actual superiority of one religion over another. If one really starts thinking logically, one ends up denouncing all organized religion. But most people just stick with the religion and the religious teachings they have inherited.

  13. Qazi Sami Avatar
    Qazi Sami

    Kindly tell me what was the name of Khwaja Ab Samad Pandit’s son who died in 1966 air crash at Banihal Kashmir.

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