MIRPUR (AJK) - Veteran Kashmiri intellectual, former information minister and ambassador of Pakistan and former senior adviser to the Secretary General of United Nations Mohammad Yusuf Buch, passed away in the US at the age of 98.

His body is being flown to Pakistan for onward burial in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu Kashmir according to his will, with the state honour, official sources said on Saturday.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan announced on Saturday that the great departed ambassador of the Kashmir cause will be laid to rest at the compound of the mausoleums of Mirwaiz Muhammad Yousaf Shah and KH Khursheed, the former Presidents of Azad Jammu & Kashmir in Muzaffarabad according to the wish of the prominent late Kashmiri intellectual and ambassador.

The AJK PM Saturday accorded formal approval to plan for the burial of Yousaf Buch, a great son of the soil, with state honour in the State’s capital town of Muzaffarabad, according to an official handout, issued by the AJK Press Information Department on Saturday. 

According to details, Yousuf Buch, a known Kashmir expert, at the end of his scholastic career, passed a competitive examination to win a place in what was called the government’s superior service.

But the radical overhaul which was sequel to the liquidation of the colonial order affected him directly; from being a privileged government official, he became a political prisoner as he was vocally among the opponents of the Maharaja Hari Singh’s so-called accession to India and New Delhi’s invasion in Jammu and Kashmir. This led to his being exiled to Pakistan through a compulsory exchange of war and political prisoners in 1949.

Senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in his condolence message that Buch dedicated his life for the Kashmir cause. Reports said Buch passed away on May 24, 2019, at his home in New York. He was not keeping good health for a long time. After the funeral prayers at Makkah Masjid in Brooklyn, New York, his dead body is being flown to Muzaffarabad for burial, a message reaching here Saturday said.

Ambassador Buch served as an adviser to the UN Secretary-General as well. Born in Kalashpora, Srinagar 1922, the Buch’s were three brothers: Yusuf, the KCS officer, Ghulam Naqashaband, who eventually became the Resident Commissioner in Delhi and Mohammad Amin Buch, who became the Chief Conservator of forests in Jammu and Kashmir and would also run Chenar newspaper. They were alumni of the Islamia High School who later graduated from the SP College.

Yusuf Buch, according to sources, topped a civil administration examination during Dogra rule and was appointed as Tehsildar somewhere around early forties. He was posted in Baramulla for a few years.

Buch was one of the many persons who was exiled by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1949. Open sources information suggest that the staunch Muslim Conference supporter, Buch was arrested and driven to Suchetgrah in Jammu and sent to Pakistan. He was accompanied, in the same bus, by Agha Showkat Ali, Barrister Abdul Gani Rentoo, and Mahmood Hashmi.

This actually gave him his status. Buch was being considered as an encyclopaedia on Kashmir as he had witnessed almost every major development from a very closer quarter.

In 1953, he is reported to have won an International Essay Contest sponsored by the United Nations that brought him to the USA. There, he ran a Kashmir Centre in New York from 1957 to 1972. Later he went to Pakistan. There, he joined the Pakistan government.

Between 1972 and 1977, he worked for former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as his special adviser. Briefly, he was Pakistan’s Minister of Information as well. Later, he was appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to Switzerland. Later, Buch joined the UN as Assistant Secretary-General political until his retirement in 1991.

Interestingly, Buch remained a bachelor for most of his life. Sources said he married an American woman Amie but the relationship could not last beyond three years. They were divorced soon. Buch died without anybody surviving him.