RAWALPINDI: Former president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and a towering figure of Kashmir’s struggle for freedom, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, passed away at a local hospital in Rawalpindi on Friday, after a protracted illness. He was 92.
Sardar Qayyum, one of the founders of the Kashmir Liberation Movement was a chairman of the Kashmir Committee and the supreme leader of the Muslim Conference — the oldest political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Given the title of “Mujahid-e-Awal” or “the first holy warrior,” Sardar Qayyum was believed to have fired the first bullet during the 1947 war of liberation which established Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
Sardar Qayyum, who was elected president of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference a record 14 times, was also part of the Constituent Council of the World Muslim League (Rabita-al-Alam Al Islami) Makkah Mukkarramah, Saudi Arabia in 1979.
Born in Dhirkot district on April 4 1924, Sardar Qayyum received secondary education from the University of Punjab after which he joined the British Indian Army’s Engineer Corps.
The nonagenarian leader was elected the president of AJK for the first time in September 1956 and went on to serve four terms. In 1991, he stepped down from the office of president and was elected as prime minister by the State Assembly.
His funeral prayers were offered in Rehmanabad, Rawalpindi.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led tributes from across the country. Referring to the veteran leader as a legendary politician and freedom fighter, they expressed deep grief and sorrow over Qayyum’s sad demise.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.