NEW YORK, May 28 (APP):A large number of people on Monday offered funeral prayers for Muhammad Yusuf Buch, a former Pakistani cabinet minister and diplomat, who passed away in New York on Friday after life-long efforts towards building support for the Kashmiri people’s struggle to win freedom from Indian occupation.
Senior Pakistani diplomats, UN officials and community leaders attended Ambassador Buch’s funeral at Makki Masjid in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City, hours before his body was flown to Islamabad on the way to Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, for burial.
“He was a true son of Kashmir, and a true son of Pakistan,” Nabeel Munir, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told a condolence meeting that followed the namaz-e-Janaza at which glowing tributes were paid to Buch’s devotion and commitment to the Kashmir cause.
Calling him a “great advocate” for Kashmiri people’s self-determination, Munir said Buch was an inspiration to the younger generation.
Prominent among those present were Iqbal Riza, a former Pakistani diplomat and chef de cabinet to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, Acting Pakistan Consul General in New York Naeem Iqbal Cheema, Secretary-General of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, Ghulam Nabi Fai and a former member of Azad Kashmir council, Sardar Sawar Khan.
Buch’s two nephews — Akhtar Hussain and Anwar Hussain — who flew in from California, also spoke on the occasion, highlighting his commitment to Kashmir, while also sharing stories about his human characteristics.
Fai called Buch a “real freedom fighter and true legend,” while Sawar Khan said, “He lived an illustrious life of courage and dedicated his life for the cause of Kashmir.”
Buch, who died at the age of 98, worked for former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as his special assistant, with the status of a federal minister, from 1972 to 77. He then served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Switzerland.
Later, he joined the United Nations at a senior position and worked as a speech writer for former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim until his retirement in 1991. Buch came to the United States in 1953 as a winner of an International Essay Contest sponsored by the United Nations.
Afterwards, Buch ran a Free-Kashmir Centre in New York from 1957 to 1972. He has written extensively on the issues of South Asia and Kashmir. He is known as the authority on the issues related to Kashmir.