By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: A Kashmir-born UK judge has been chosen to receive Britainâ€™s highest honour, the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) title, from the Queen on the recommendation of the British prime minister â€œfor bringing communities togetherâ€. Khursheed Drabu, a jurist and a former cricketer who played domestic cricket in India, is only the third Muslim and the first Kashmiri to receive this award. He was honored at a glittering ceremony from Queen Elizabeth in London on June 13 (Saturday). â€œThank God, I am happy for having been acknowledged,â€ said Drabu, who was touring Srinagar when the news of his selection for the award reached him. Ironically, the Indian government has refused to give the visa to his wife Rifat to accompany him to Srinagar. â€œShe was denied visa because she was born in Pakistan,â€ Drabu claimed. His wife was also included in the list of the most powerful Muslim women in Britain issued by the Times Magazine. Drabu said that unlike other judges, throughout his judicial career, he was allowed to do community-based work. â€œBoth the Conservative and Labour parties allowed me to do community-based work. That helped me develop a good reputation in all the communities which in turn helped to bring them together,â€ he said. Drabu had also drafted the constitution of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) launched in 1997. He is currently the chairman of the MCBâ€™s legal committee. An alumnus of the Srinagar SP College and the Aligarh Muslim University, Drabu represented Kashmir in Indiaâ€™s domestic cricket Ranji Trophy. Drabu was also the first Muslim judge in the British judiciary. Later, he rose to become the vice president of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. â€œI have practiced in the fields of equality law, human rights and mental health law,â€ he said.