Following the death of Mirwaiz Maulana Yusuf Shah and Khurshid Hassan Khurshid, another Kashmiri in exile, Ambassador Yusuf Buch passed away at New York in the United States of America on May 24. He was 97.
Buch was born in Kalashpora located in down town area of Srinagar in the politically surcharged era of 1922. He got his basic education from Islamia High School and SP College Srinagar. He passed the competitive Kashmir Civil Services examination and was appointed Tehsildar in Revenue Department.
During the Pakistan Movement in 1940s, he was politically close to Mirwaiz dynasty in Srinagar. In 1949, Buch was exiled by the government of Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) from Uri-Chakothi sector for his political beliefs.
In AJK, Buch stayed with Mirwiaz Muhammad Yusuf Shah in Muzaffarabad who appointed him as his special assistant in the then Presidency of AJK. In 1953, Buch won an essay contest sponsored by the United Nations (UN). Later he shifted to USA where he worked as a correspondent at the world body.
While working at the UN, Kashmir issue remained his top priority. In New York, he established a “Free Kashmir Centre” from 1957 to 1972 aimed to highlight “Kashmiris political struggle for the right of self-determination”.
The center was shut after India and Pakistan signed the Shimla agreement following the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.
Buch was a multi-talented scholar, who also worked as the senior advisor to the Secretary General of UN for more than 18 years.
In Pakistan he was considered as one of most intelligent man. Buch was the close friend of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who later appointed him special assistant equal to federal minister and ambassador to Switzerland in 1972 to 1977. The deceased also worked as the speech writer for Bhutto with special focus on issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He got married during the same time. Unfortunately it could not last long and he got divorced in 1979.
Ambassador Buch was the critic of General Musharraf’s four-point formula, often asserting that the final and durable settlement of Kashmir dispute lies in the implementation of UN resolutions.
Apart from Bhutto and erstwhile President of AJK Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, Buch was also the close friend of a known Kashmir’s political figure and former AJK President K.H Khurshid.
“Whenever ambassador Buch would come to Pakistan and Muzaffarabad he would first ask about the welfare of Kashmiri refugees settled in AJK. He visited Muzaffarabad for the last time in 1998,” Shaukat Jan Buch, his cousin and former retired AJK government secretary, said.
Shaukat Jan further said that “Kashmir’s freedom was the dream of Buch” for which he devoted his entire life in USA. He was both in love with Pakistan and Kashmir.
Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq paid glowing tributes to ambassador Buch saying he was the legend and a living encyclopedia on Kashmir. Mirwaiz said he dedicated his life for the Kashmir cause and whole of Kashmiri nation is praying for the departed soul.
President Sardar Masood Khan said that ambassador Buch was the epitome of knowledge and the best tribute to the deceased would be to carry his mission forward till the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Former Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan said that Buch started his political career from All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKMC) and remained close to Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, Pir Syed Ziaudin Andrabi and Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah in AJK in 1950s. “He highlighted the Kashmir cause at international level and for his matchless services whole Kashmiri nation is proud of him,” Khan added.
Former Chief Justice AJK Supreme Court, Justice Mazoor-ul-Hassan Gilani termed ambassador Buch as “Edward Said” of Kashmir. Buch introduced the Kashmir dispute at international level particularly in western countries and United States.
Justice (retired) Geelani said that ambassador Buch was the strong voice of oppressed Kashmiri people at international level and “we are proud of his services he rendered for the noble cause of Kashmir”.
Opposition Leader in AJK Assembly and central leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chaudhry Muhammad Yaseen also paid tributes to Buch saying when Zulkfiqar Ali Bhutto was in search of an advisor on Jammu and Kashmir dispute following the Shimla agreement and he picked ambassador Buch who proved himself a good addition to the team Bhutto.
Opposition leader Yaseen further said that Buch had highlighted the Kashmir cause vigorously at diplomatic level to expose India in influential circles of west. He also hailed the AJK government’s decision to give a state funeral to ambassador Buch in Muzaffarabad.
The AJK Legislative Assembly member Pir Syed Muhammad Ali Raza Bukhari said that the services of ambassador Buch for the promotion of Kashmir cause in US were matchless and Kashmiri people are proud of such a hero who served Kashmir movement more than 70 years.
“Buch like diplomat and scholar was a real asset of the Jammu and Kashmir who raised the voice of the oppressed people of Kashmir at highest circle of west to expose the Indian ongoing state terrorism in IOK,” Raza Bukhari added.
Senior Vice President Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM) and APHC leader Altaf Ahmad Bhat said that Ambassador Buch’s role for the ongoing Kashmir liberation movement will be written in golden words in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Bhat said that Buch sacrificed his whole life for Kashmir cause and exposed Indian atrocities against Kashmiris at global level. Bhat further said that Kashmir was running in the blood of Buch till his death.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Parliamentary leader in AJK Assembly Abdul Majid Khan paid glowing tributes to Buch while terming him the real freedom fighter of Kashmir at diplomatic front saying Kashmiris will never forget the services of Ambassador Buch for the Kashmir cause.
Ambassador Buch would be laid to rest as per his wish in Muzaffarabad on May 30.
The body of the deceased would be transported from New York to Islamabad and will later be buried close to K H Khurshid and Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah in the capital city of AJK his last abode.