Sir Gerald Kaufman, Kashmir’s sane voice in UK Parliament passes away
London, Feb 28 (Only Kashmir): The eldest sitting member of the UK Parliament and a great supporter of Kashmir’s right of self-determination Sir Gerald Kaufman breathed his last at the age of 86. An outspoken Kaufman who visited Kashmir in 1991, used to raise Kashmir issue in and outside the House of Commons, where he now sat as the father of the House, with a passion. The Kashmir diasporas in the United Kingdom have expressed grief and sorrow over his demise.
He was the first prominent foreign politician to visit Kashmir in August 1991 when the Valley was caught in the upheavals of high-grade militancy. He always stood for the “cause of Kashmir” and felt that it was Great Britain’s responsibility to pay attention and seek an amicable solution to Kashmir crisis.
Kaufman, who served as the MP for Manchester Gorton continuously from 1970, had a varied career before entering Parliament, working for the Fabian Society in addition to his flourishing career in journalism and as a satirist, writing for That Was The Week That Was and as a leader writer on the Mirror. In 1965, he exchanged the press for politics, working as a press officer and an aide to Harold Wilson before he was elected to parliament in 1970. He became Father of the House in 2015 and was the eldest sitting member of the UK Parliament at the time of his death.
Prominent socio-political activist and philanthropist Muzzammil Ayyub Thakur in his condolence message from London while recalling his memories with Kaufman said the latter’s sad demise will leave a massive void not just for the people of Kashmir, but for noble causes, nations, and other people who face rights violation, injustice, and war crimes.
“My late father Dr. Muhammad Ayyub Thakur and Sir Gerald Kaufman were very close, and quite often I was privileged to have been in their midst when discussing Kashmir. I was very young but I still remember how passionate he was about the Kashmir issue, even until his sad demise.” Muzzammil added and extended sympathies to bereaved family on behalf of World Kashmir Freedom Movement and from the people of Kashmir.
Kaufman wrote many books and articles. Some are political: How to be a Minister (1980) is an irreverent look at the difficulties faced by ministers trying to control the civil service, in much the same vein as the television series Yes Minister. Some are cultural: Meet Me in St Louis is a study of the 1944 Judy Garland film. He contributed a chapter about John Hodge, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton elected in 1906, to Men Who Made Labour, edited by Alan Haworth and Diane Hayter. He opposed Barack Obama, saying that the U.S. voters don’t know a phony when they see one, and if they did, “Barack Obama would not be president”.
He was the leader of a large European parliamentary delegation to Gaza in January 2009 during which he said that Israeli officials who authorized the use of white phosphorus in densely populated Gaza should be tried for war crimes.