Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was born on 4 April 1924. He studied in various educational institutions and attained Secondary Education from the University of Punjab in Pre-1947 united India. He then joined the Engineers Corps of the
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was born on 4 April 1924. He studied in various educational institutions and attained Secondary Education from the University of Punjab in Pre-1947 united India. He then joined the Engineers Corps of the British Indian Army and saw the active service in the African Deserts and in the Middle East. He gained valuable experience and knowledge in military and defence affairs and witnessed the Palestine Operation from very close quarters in 1942-46.
Sardar Abdul Qayyum has to his credit the unique advantage of closely studying the Zionist, Israeli movement right from the very beginning. Later in 1946 he resigned from active service, came home and organized, activated and operationalized Kashmir Freedom Movement in 1946-49 on the basis of military experience he had gained in Africa and in the Middle East, motivated by the fervour of partition and his inherent military acumen and aptitude.
He rose to fame when the Dogra ruler refused to concede to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan on 23 August 1947 led the mighty Liberation Movement (freedom struggle) from the historic hilltops of Neela Butt, culminating in the liberation of thousands of kilometres area now constituting Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas.
The Day, 23rd August stays as a national commemoration Day observed annually. The August 23 Movement remained all along a very disciplined, pragmatic, human rights observing and effective event of history with all its unique characteristics under highly trying conditions obtaining then in Kashmir and elsewhere in united India. In recognition of initiation of the Liberation Movement he was bestowed the popular title of Mujahid-e-Awal by the Kashmiri nation.
He raised and commanded 1st AK Battalion which is presently 19-AK Battalion which became 6 Battalion Brigade under his command. This six-battalion Brigade is known in history books as ‘Qayyum Brigade’. It operated in highly strategic zone between Uri and Poonch. From August 1947 that movement lasted for 18 full months till 1st January 1949. It was halted on the call of the UNO when the ceasefire came into effect. When the volunteer force that was operating in Kashmir was being regularized, he was ranked as a Major. But immediately after the ceasefire on the 1st of January he resigned from active service. He then started his political career from the platform of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.
He started his political career in early fifties from the platform of Muslim Conference, a party that played a significant role in flaming the fire of freedom and kept the spirit of liberty alive in the hearts of Kashmiris for long time. Muslim Conference was established by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas. Being skilled organizer, hard worker, extremely committed to the ideology of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and having ability to rally the masses around him, Sardar Abdul Qayyum during his active political life made Muslim Conference a populist party and turned himself an iconic leader of the region.
Believing that AJK leaders should remain neutral in Pakistan’s politics till final settlement of Kashmir dispute, Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan had successfully maintained working relationship with different rulers in Islamabad right from General Ayub Khan to General, Zia, Benazir Bhtto, Nawaz Sharif and General Mushrraf except Bhutto with whom he confronted in 1974 when Bhutto extended scope of his party up to Azad Kashmir and dislodge his elected government through a no confidence vote.
It was his towering personality and political influence that Azad Kashmir remained a citadel of Pakistan’s defence and India never succeeded in orchestrating its terrorist activities in the region. Similarly, it was he, who steadily integrated AJK society into the mainstream Pakistan and discouraged the Kashmiri nationalist sentiments to take roots in the liberated area.
In an environment where politics revolves around tribes and clans, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan did politics of principles binding the people in the bond of ideology, which was evident from the fact that Muslim Conference once was considered a beautiful bunch of all tribes and clans in Azad Kashmir.
Another important aspect of his personal life was that he had never run after the material things and lived a simple life not different from his ordinary political followers. Many people in Azad Kashmir know that he used to wear worn out Shirwani (long coat) with hand- sewn patches on it during the climax of his politics.
The simplistic life style helped him earn confidence of his followers and common people of Azad Kashmir who considered him someone different from just a politician. A devote Muslim in personal life and liberal in politics, his political philosophy and strategy made him equally popular in religious and moderates circles and he never faced divide in his party on religious grounds.
Being human being, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was not quite impervious to human errors and omission. He might have committed mistakes that affected lives of people but overall his achievements and accomplishments made him the king of the politics, most humble contented and down to earth person.
People from all walks of life and across the entire political spectrum will continue to remember him as an authentic politician, a strategist and statesman who did politics as full time job with a sense of national duty, a religious obligation and a mission.
Inclined towards violence in the beginning, Sardar Abdul Qayyum turned pacifist later. Indeed, he was a blend of paradoxes, devout in his private life but secular in his politics. An astute politician, who understood power politics, was also a popular leader. No wonder he enjoyed a special status in the hearts of people as well as in the power corridors.
Admired by millions, the most popular political and spiritual guru who touched the hearts of the common masses and elite alike, Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan died on Friday 10th July 2015 following a protracted illness and was laid to rest on Saturday the 11th July 2015 at his ancestral home in a small picturesque village of Ghaziabad in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
Pakistan Military guards escorted his casket wrapped in national flag to final resting and gave him gun salute in military traditions. A contingent of AJK Police also presented a guard of honour to mark it as state burial.
When the mortal remains of the 91-year-old freedom fighter-turned politician were lowered into the grave, thousands of teary-eyed helpless followers watched the final journey of AJK’s Mujahidawal (first crusader).
The narrow lanes of Ghaziabad town were choked with influx of people pouring in from all over the AJK to pay their last respects to iconic leader who led the freedom struggle of Kashmir in 1947 and later ruled the liberated territory for long time.
The legendary leader left behind a son, Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan, grand children, great grand-children and large number of followers, fans and devoted admirers to tell the stories of his revolutionary life full of many highs and lows. The most significant thing he has left behind is his wonderful political legacy for his followers to cherish.
May Allah Almighty rest his soul in eternal peace!