MIRPUR (AJK) - Eminent elderly Kashmiri politician and pioneer of rebellion against India, Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan, passed away in Rawalpindi Friday morning at the age of 90.

His funeral prayer was held in Rawalpindi Race Course ground on Friday afternoon, which was attended by federal and provincial ministers, politicians, serving and retired military and civil officers among thousands of people from every walk of life.

Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan started armed struggle against Dogra regime forces from Neela Butt in 1947. He became a popular Jehadi leader after founding the AJK government in October 24, 1947, became the founding head of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and was awarded the title of Mujahid-e-Awwal. He became president of the Azad state of Jammu and Kashmir thrice in 1956, 1971 and 1985. He was elected as AJK prime minister in 1991.

He played an active role in the toppling of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government in 1977 and remained key ally of Pakistan National Alliance. Former military ruler General Ziaul Haq and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed him their mentor given his brinkmanship and statesmanship.

His body will be brought to his native village via helicopter from Rawalpindi where tens of thousands of people are expected to attend his funeral prayer which will also be offered in his native town, Ghaziabad, subdivision Dheerkot of Azad Kashmir, at 11am on Saturday (today). He will be laid to rest the same day in his ancestral graveyard in Ghaziabad with full state honour, it was officially announced by the AJK government.

The AJK government announced a gazetted holiday throughout AJK on Saturday (today) as a mark of respect for the departed Kashmiri leader, according to an official statement of the AJK government.

Besides, the AJK government has also announced a three-day mourning to mourn the demise of Sardar Qayyum, one of the pioneers of the Kashmir freedom struggle and the former President and Prime Minister of AJK, in acknowledgement of his lifetime untiring services to the Kashmir cause under the fold of the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference.

The national flags of Pakistan and AJK will fly half mast on all prominent official and private buildings to mourn the death of Mujahid-e-Awwal Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, an official communiqué said.

AJK President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, Prime Minister Ch Abdul Majeed, PML-N AJK President and leader of opposition in AJK Assembly and former Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, and former AJK Legislative Assembly speaker expressed condolences over the demise of Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan.

In separate messages of condolence to the bereaved family’s head and his son ex-Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, they termed the death of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan a great loss to the Kashmir freedom struggle.

“The people of Jammu & Kashmir have been deprived of a great leader; the vacuum of his departure will never be fill in,” these leaders said, while expressing deep sense of shock and grief over the death of Sardar Qayyum. They prayed to Allah Almighty to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family and the people of Jammu and Kashmir to bear the irreparable loss with courage.