LONDON: Britain’s first-ever Pakistani-origin and Muslim Queen’s Counsel (QC) Barrister Sibghat Kadri who passed away on Tuesday, 2nd November, after battling cancer for more than two years was laid to rest on Tuesday, 9th November.
85-year-old Sibghatullah Kadri had been suffering from cancer, lung and heart diseases besides age-related medical conditions. He has left behind his wife Carita Kadri, son Sadakat Kadri, daughter Maria Kadri, two grandchildren and a large number of mourners.
Funeral prayer was held at Gatton Road Mosque after Zuhar prayer. Afterward, the burial took place place at Surbiton Cemetry, Lower Marsh Lane, Surbiton KT1 3BJ A large number of mourners and other worshippers were present in prayer and burial and paid the huge tribute to him.
Cllr. Ahmed Shahzad, Barrister Rasheed Ahmed, Barrister Gul Nawaz, Barrister Rashid Aslam, Barrister Amjad Malik, M. Sarwar, Ajum Shahzad Solicitor, Syed Qamar Raza, former Cll. Mehboob Choudhary, Zaheer Shah, Arshad Siddiqui, Jahan Zeb, Habib Jaan, Umer Memon, Saeed Niazi, Mushtaq Lashari, Cllr. Tariq Dar, Tariq Mahmood, Asad Ranjha Solicitor and many more mourners have expressed their heartiest condolence over the sad demise of Barrister Sibghatullah Kadri.
Sibghatullah Kadri tried to call M. Sarwar, Chief Editor, The Nation at about 9.30pm on Monday night but the conversation could not be held and the line disconnected. M. Sarwar returned the call three times but there was no response and other day on Tuesday, news of his demise received.
First British Pakistani QC Sibghatullah Kadri was born on April 23, 1937 in India to Firasatullah Kadri, who was a religious scholar. He migrated to Pakistan along with his parents in 1950. Kadri is a leading authority on immigration and race relations. He is on top of the list for raising voice against oppression and injustice and has always fought for ethnic minorities rights in Britain.
In 1956, Kadri took admission in Karachi University to study Chemistry and Mathematics because his parents wanted him to be a scientist. As a student he joined the struggle against the Martial Law of General Ayub Khan. He was elected as General Secretary of the Karachi University Students Union.
Kadri and his other university colleagues were arrested for opposing the Martial Law and languished in prison for 7 months without trial. On release from the jail, he wrote a Habeas Corpus petition against his detention. In other words, he prepared the first case of his life for himself. Like many other students struggling against Martial Law, he was also deported from Karachi to Hyderabad in 1959. He was refused exemption and had to repeat his BSc Honours Final year but could not complete his degree because of the student protests.
At 23, a staunch opponent of Ayub Khan’s Martial Law, Sibghatullah Kadri migrated to London where he found a clerk’s job in a firm for £10. Since he had not passed A & O levels, he could not get admission in the University, he decided to study Bar. He applied in Inner Temple and explained his position in detail. He was admitted at Bar on special grounds.
In 1962, Kadri revived Pakistani students’ organisation (PSO) in London to launch movement for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. He was elected as its General Secretary. In this cause PSO also mustered support from East Pakistani students studying in England. They held series of protests and demonstrations against General Ayub Khan on his visit to the UK and also occupied the Pakistan High Commission’s building to register their protest against continuance of dictatorship in Pakistan.
Kadri who struggled for democracy in Pakistan did not sit content after migrating to London and launched struggle against racial indiscrimination and inequality and continued his struggle from different platforms for the rights of the ethnic minorities. The Asian community in UK is now enjoying the fruit of his struggle.
Kadri passed his Barrister Exam in 1965. At that time racial discrimination in UK was at its peak. No one would even rent out his place to blacks nor were they given any jobs. Labour Party wanted to make some law against racial discrimination and for that purpose had issued a White Paper for consultation. To speak on this move Kadri was invited by BBC Urdu Programme on behalf of his organization Afro-Asian and Caribbean Lawyers Association. They liked him so much that they offered him a job and he started working with BBC as outside contributory (OC). Later he was also associated with BBC Asian Radio Birmingham
Kadri formed an organization by the name of Scopo to struggle against racial discrimination that consisted of some 100 big and small bodies. He also launched Asian Action of which he was the convener. In 1969 BBC banned Kadri for speaking at a demonstration at Inner Temple.
Kadri believes; ‘He who struggled against racism in Britain himself remained its victim.’ Earlier, there was a law in this country that no barrister from outside could practice in all the four Temples. There was no Asian barrister in the country. All QCs were English. No Asian or black was allowed pupilage after passing the bar exam and if at all one could be able to get it the chamber would not give him any place. Earlier, the barristers could practice only in the chambers established in the temple while these days they have opened offices along roads.