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MUZAFFARABAD, March 10: The 23rd death anniversary of a prominent Kashmiri leader, who also served with Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah during the Pakistan movement, is being observed across the divided Himalayan region and elsewhere on Friday.

Khurshid Hassan Khurshid, commonly known as K. H. Khurshid, died in a road accident on March 11, 1988, while travelling in a public transport vehicle as an ordinary passenger. He is buried in the heart of Muzaffarabad.

Mr Khurshid was just 20 years old when Mr Jinnah anticipated his abilities during a visit to Srinagar in 1944 and chose him as his private secretary, a position he held till the death of the founder of Pakistan.

Mr Jinnah was once believed to have said that “Pakistan was made by him, his private secretary and his type writer.”

On May 1, 1959, Mr Khurshid was appointed by President Ayub Khan as AJK President, an office he accepted on the insistence of Fatima Jinnah who treated him as her son and had also financially supported him earn the bar-at-law degree from Lincoln’s Inn.

In 1961, Mr Khurshid conducted the first ever (basic democracy) elections in AJK and also won presidential election.

In the following year, he founded a political party, Jammu Kashmir Liberation League (JKLL), which called for recognition of AJK government as a ‘revolutionary provisional successor government’ of deposed Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir with a freehand to take the freedom movement to its logical end.

However, Mr Khurshid’s myopic opponents and the vested interests launched a smear campaign against him, terming him anti-Pakistan.

Following some differences with the powerful Pakistani establishment, Mr Khurshid resigned from the office of AJK president on August 5, 1964.

Afterwards, he had to face imprisonment in infamous Palandari and Dalai jails as well.

In the following years, the establishment ensured he should not return to power, notwithstanding his huge following in masses who regarded him as an icon of honesty, integrity and democracy. They also called him ‘Khurshid-i-Millat.’

Unlike majority of leaders who would feed themselves on public money or on the donations of their workers, Mr Khurshid led a very clean life.

A person who had remained very close to the founder of Pakistan, had held the highest office of AJK for five years and also headed a popular political party died in such a condition that he did not own any property anywhere in AJK and Pakistan and was in possession of just 37 rupees at the time of his tragic death.