The Pakistani diaspora worldwide has become increasingly involved in political activities in their adopted countries of residence. Yet, there is no single place to go to find out about these individuals. The following profile compendium was developed by Hamza Balkhi, a Pakistani, living in Canada, who grew up in Qatar.
Here are fourteen short stories, often overlooked in the global media frenzy, of individuals who are shining a different light on the narrative of the Pakistani diaspora. Here are fourteen short stories of individuals of the Pakistani diaspora who have broken traditional moulds within their respective societies and are redefining what it means to be a Pakistani, both in their new homes and possibly even in Pakistan. The illustrations end with a conclusion highlighting the importance of western academic achievement to these individual’s successes, and the importance of reaching out and making an effort in engaging in their respective local polities. We have tried to include only those individuals who very consciously identify with their Pakistani roots. Therefore other notable people of Pakistani lineage but who clearly distance themselves from their Pakistani identity have been excluded from this assemblage.
Wajid Khan, former Member of Canadian Parliament 
Wajid Ali Khan, born April 24, 1946 in Lahore (British India), is a Canadian businessman and politician based out of the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Before immigrating to Canada in 1974, he served as an Officer and pilot in the Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1973. Prior to immigrating, Wajid Ali Khan saw combat in the Indo- Pakistani War of 1971- during which his Shenyang J-6 fighter aircraft was shot down behind enemy lines. He spent some time as a Prisoner of War prior to immigrating.
Wajid Ali Khan’s first prominent step into politics was as a Member of the Liberal Party of Canada in 2003- when he lobbied for and supported soon-to-be Prime Minister Paul Martin’s leadership bid. Subsequent to the Paul Martin’s successful leadership bid, Wajid Ali Khan ran in the 2004 Canadian Federal Election in a bid to become Member of Parliament from the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville, a prosperous riding located in the South-West Toronto region. Wajid Ali Khan’s 2004 election bid was successful, with over 50% support from his local electorate; he had a staggering ~18% margin over the next candidate in his riding. The 2004 Liberal success made Wajid Ali Khan and colleague Yasmin Ratansi), the first Muslim MPs to be elected federally on a Liberal Party ticket.
During his first tenure as a MP in the 38th Session of Canadian Parliament, Wajid Ali Khan served on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He also famously voted against the Liberal government's same-sex marriage bill in June 2005.
Wajid Ali Khan was re-elected in the 2006 Canadian federal election as a Liberal MP, winning by a reduced margin of ~11%, down ~7% from his previous victory. Despite his success, the Liberal Party lost the elections, and a new Conservative government was formed. Upon joining the 29th Session of Canadian Parliament, he served as the Parliamentary National Defence Assistant Critic from February to May of 2006, then as Treasury Board Assistant Critic from May to August of 2006. During the 39th Session (1st) of Canadian Parliament, he also served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Standing Committee on National Defence, and the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. During the 2nd Session of the 39th Parliament, he served on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Wajid Ali Khan was the center of much controversy when he left the Liberal Caucus in August of 2006. Wajid Ali Khan the proceeded to sit in the house as a Liberal outside Caucus until January of 2007, when he notably crossed the floor to join the ruling Conservative Party. In November of 2007, he then left the Conservative caucus due to charges of election spending fraud by Elections Canada and sat as an Independent MP, only to be reintegrated back into the Conservative Caucus in February 2008- after the fraud charges had been resolved.
In October 2008, during his third federal election bid, Wajid Ali Khan lost to Liberal candidate Bonnie Crombie. During his time as a Conservative MP, Wajid Ali Khan’s role as an advisor on foreign affairs and issues pertaining to defence, human rights and the Middle East region gained considerable prominence and attention in local media outlets.
Shafiq Qaadri, Liberal member of Provincial Parliament, Ontario, Canada 
A resident of the Greater Toronto area, the highly accomplished Dr. Shafiq Qaadri graduated from Upper Canada College in 1982 and from the University of Toronto Medical School in 1988. Upon becoming a doctor, Dr. Qaadri began to practice medicine in Toronto as family physician and as an academic. As a physician, Dr. Qaadri also became a Designated Medical Practitioner of the Government of Canada, and practiced medicine in a multitude of languages including English, French, Urdu and Hindi.
As an academic, Dr. Qaadri was won a number of scholarships and awards, including: a Canadian National Debating Championship, an English-Speaking Union Essay Prize to Oxford University, a Medical Research Council Scholarship in Clinical Neurosurgery, and a Senator Thompson Fellowship to the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Qaadri’s outstanding achievements also included writing and publishing more than 700 medical articles, books, and a wide array of public articles for national media outlets including The Globe and Mail and The Medical Post. As an accomplished physician, Dr. Qaadri has also worked extensively in spreading medical knowledge and general understanding of human health to the public. This includes contributing to more than 1000 radio and television interviews- he also maintains the website: <http://www.doctorq.ca>. Dr. Qaadri is also the author of the book The Testosterone Factor: A Practical Guide to Improving Vitality and Virility, Naturally – a book geared towards discussing health issues as pertaining to baby-boomer men. The book was released in 2006 and is now published internationally in four languages.
In social circles, Dr. Qaadri is well known for his advocacy in favour of diversity and multiculturalism, education and knowledge, quality public healthcare, and public justice and equity. His first prominent step into public life was in the Ontario provincial elections of 1999. Though he ran a successful campaign, his first bid was not successful and- Dr. Qaadri lost by a small margin of 4.24% to his Progressive Conservative adversary. This loss however only strengthened Dr. Qaadri’s resolve, and he returned to the polls in 2003, where under the leadership of Liberal Dalton McGuinty, he secured a whopping 53.98% of the vote- a lead of more than 31% votes (>~9740 votes) over the next candidate in the riding. During his first term as the Member of Legislative Assembly from Etobicoke North, Dr. Qaadri served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Children’s Services. Further, he was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario's first Minister of Health Promotion in 2006.
Upon the completion of his first term, Dr. Qaadri retuned to the polls seeking a mandate for a second term in 2007. With a strong record of public service, community involvement and social engagement, Dr. Qaadri was reelected with a greater margin than previously achieved in his 2003 bid. He secured a 54.81% of the vote, a margin of 33.79% greater than the next candidate (>~9340 votes). During his second term, he has chaired the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Policy- a vital policy committee responsible for overseeing the formation crucial provincial Legislation. Dr. Qaadri secured a third mandate October of 2011, securing nearly double the votes of the next candidate. This was a stark contrast to the Ontario Liberal Party, which despite winning, lost its majority standing in provincial parliament.
Yasir Naqvi, Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament, Ontario, Canada 
Born in Pakistan, Yasir Naqvi’s family moved to Niagra Falls, Canada in 1988, when he was fifteen years old, after his father had been imprisoned by the religious dictatorship for being on the wrong side of the political spectrum. After moving to Canada, like many immigrants, the Naqvi family began to piece together a new life for themselves. Though the new life did bring hardships, the family retained their foundational values of hard work, justice and socio-political moderation. These values directly transcended into Yasir and at a young age, he joined McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. From McMaster, he obtained two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, in Political Science and Peace Studies; and a Bachelor of Sciences in Life Sciences. Yasir Naqvi then proceeded to the University of Ottawa Law School to obtain his education in Law.
Yasir’s core set of beliefs, compounded with his perseverance and dedication propelled his legal education in a positive direction, and upon completing his education, joined the law firm Flavell Kubrick LLP- eventually becoming a partner. Yasir stayed with the organization when it merged with Lang Michener LLP. In 2007, Yasir left Lang Michener LLP to join the Centre for Trade Policy and Law at Ottawa University as an Associate Director. During this time, he also completed a Masters degree in International Affairs from the prestigious Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.
Yasir’s first successful leap into politics was in the 2007 provincial elections of Ontario- bringing his determination, desire to succeed, dedication and professionalism with him to the polls, Yasir won after a tough race by a margin of 2163 votes (4.3%) over the next candidate. It was clear from the get go that Yasir was destined to be a very active MPP- and in the few years since joining the liberal team in Toronto, Yasir, to date, has played a variety of roles in provincial legislature, some of which include: Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education (September 2010); Member, Standing Committee on Estimates (April 2011-September 2011); Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly (March 2010-September 2011; Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Revenue (October 2008-September 2010); Member, Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly (March 2010-March 2010); Member, Standing Committee on Government Agencies (September 2009 March 2010; Member, Standing Committee on Estimates (February 2009- September 2009); Member, Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills (February 2009-April 30, 2009); Member, Standing Committee on Justice Policy (December 2007 to February 2009); Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services (October 2007-08); Member, Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills (December 2007).
Beyond this, Yasir became the President of the Ontario Liberal Party at its Annual General Meeting in 2009. Yasir’s ambitious ascent to power has been well recorded, and his charisma and work ethic is well known to many, both inside and outside the Ontario Liberal Party. It is also widely rumored that he has the right ingredients to make a future Premier of Ontario. As standing President of the Ontario Liberal Party, he helped steer the Ontario Liberal Party to a third term in provincial office in the October 2011 elections (where he secured another term as well).
Salma Ataullahjan, Conservative Senator, Ontario, Canada 
Born in Pakistan, Salma Ataullahjan immigrated to Canada at the age of 26 after an arranged marriage with Saleem Ataullahjan. Before joining mainstream political life in Canada, she built a robust reputation as a social activist, community member, real estate agent, artist, and homemaker.
Despite being very socially active, Salma Ataullahjan always felt the need to do more, the need to get involved in the community in a more dynamic and political way. In the 2008 Canadian federal elections, she finally decided to take the leap of faith and make a bid for political office from the riding of Mississauga- Brampton South as a Conservative candidate. Her initial run was against Liberal stalwart Navdeep Bains, a well known incumbent and extremely popular in the area- and Salma Ataullahjan was unable to success, losing by a spread of 6463 votes (14.47%). Even though her bid was not successful, it did put her on the political map as her performance against Navdeep Bains exceeded most expectations. Life returned to normal following the elections until one faithful day when the phone rang with a call from the Prime Ministers Office letting her know of her candidacy for the single open seat for Senate from Ontario. Upon the completion of the vetting process, Salma Ataullahjan was appointed to the Senate of Canada on July of 2010 on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The appointment of Salma Ataullahjan made her the first Pakistani and muslim women to be appointed to Senate. Since joining the Senate, the Senator has been a member of the Aboriginal People’s committee, the Human Rights committee, and a joint member of Library of Parliament.
Salma Ataullahjan traces her roots to the Khyber-Pakhtunkwa region of Pakistan, her great grandfather was well renowned human rights activist and political leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and her father is a strongman and ex-Senior Vice President of the Pakistani political party Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and ex-Pakistani Senator Saranjam Khan. When Salma Ataullahjan was young, she went to school with and was a friend of Benazir Bhutto.
The Senator has maintained an active public life for a number of years, and has participated as an instrumental player with a variety of charitable, cultural and social organizations. Some of these include sitting on the Board of Pakistani Canadian Professionals and Academics; being President and Vice-President of the South Asian Regional Council; being part of the Canadian Pashtun Cultural Association; actively fundraising and raising awareness for the Toronto chapter of the Citizens Foundation, a charity for schools in poor districts of Pakistan. She also founded the Parent Council of David Lewis Public School in Toronto and served as its chairperson.
Salma Ataullahjan has also developed a reputation in the art world as an award-winning watercolour artist. Her paintings have been displayed across Toronto, including exhibitions such as the Open Doors Exhibition at the Civic Centre and the Streetsville Art Gallery . She also maintains the website <http://salmasart.wordpress.com/>
Saqib Ali, Democratic Delegate, Maryland House of Delegates, United States 
Saqib Ali is widely credited as being one of the first Asians to hold a significant public office, as a State Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates, outside the traditional Asian electoral strong holds of Hawaii and California. Born in 1975 in Chicago to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother, Ali witnessed drawing room politics- as is traditional of many South Asian families. It was in the witnessing of these political debates that Ali was energized to take a proactive and involved approach to politics, civic duties and public service.
With the energy he had developed in his younger years, he moved to Montgomery County, Maryland (1991) to pursue further education in Computer Science at the University of Maryland. He completed both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Computer Science while at university.
It is widely known that Saqib Ali started getting involved politically and civically as a member of the Greens, but was inspired by Democrat Representative (from Maryland) Chris Van Hollen to switch and become a Democrat. Upon joining the Democrats, Ali leveraged his higher education, and his outspoken personality to become the first elected President of the District 39 Democratic Club. He also coordinated the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2003/04- an exercise that gained him much media attention. In 2004 and 2005, Ali was involved in a wide array of civic and political activities, some of which include raising interfaith cooperation and awareness, being parts of local lobby groups and supporting Jun Choi, the Democratic Mayor from Edison New Jersey for Choi’s first bid for office.
It was however in October of 2005 that Ali decided to move from a back end party worker and social activist to attempt to become an elected official. He announced his candidacy for inclusion on the three-person Democratic slate for Legislative District 39. As his campaign for the democratic ticket picked up, Ali obtained endorsements from the Montgomery County Education Association and the Washington Post- both proved instrumental in his campaign. In September of 2006, Ali won the nomination by coming in third in the primary- defeating the fourth contender by an unofficial margin of 7%.
Nancy King, Charles Barkley and Saqib Ali (the three-person Democratic slate) then fired up their campaign against Republicans David Nichols, Gary Scott, and Bill Witham. The Democratic slate was successful, averaging 22.4% votes cast as compared to 10.9% cast for their republican adversaries. The win was attributed to the charisma that the democratic slate had, the fact that about 40% of District 39’s populous comprised of minorities, and endorsements from major organizations like the Washington post. Saqib Ali and colleague Kumar P. Barve made history my making Maryland the first state legislature to send two representatives of South Asian decent to legislature.
Upon assuming office, Saqib Ali increased the scope of his engagement with the community and while in office, he championed and voted for a variety of causes including standing against the state raising revenues through slot machines, and voting in favour of the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2007, and in favor of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in (2007). He held office until January of 2011.
In 2010, Ali also geared up for to bid to become a State Senator for the 39th District. He was defeated by 3.47% by colleague Nancy King in the primaries of that bid. Ali has also maintained a successful career as a computer scientist- and was employed Senior Software Engineer by The Mitre Corporation in McLean, Virginia, prior to running for office.
Saghir Tahir, Republican Representative, New Hampshire State Legislature, United States
Saghir Tahir, also widely known as “Saggy” was the first Muslim elected on a Republican ticket, and is a representative in the New Hampshire State Legislature. Born in British India, Tahir immigrated to the United States in 1972 with very little wealth. With an unyielding entrepreneurial spirit, Tahir started working at low paying physical labour positions and slowly built up both enough wealth to start his own business and buy into a variety of real estate ventures.
Tahir’s first run for public office was in 1998, when he put his name in for nomination with the Republican Party. Upon successfully competing in the Republican Primary, Tahir then geared up for the elections themselves. In his initial attempt in 1998, he was unsuccessful, but success was achieved in his second bid in 2000. Tahir won the right to represent the residents of District 38,Ward 2 by a slim margin of sixteen votes over the next competitor. He served as a member of the Public Works and Highways Committee, and was Chairman of the City Republican Committee in 2001. He served as the 2nd Vice Chair, City Republican Committee in 2000 and Secretary, City Republican Committee in 1999.Tahir retuned to the polls for a third time in 2002 and was re-elected in District 50, Wards 2, 3, 10 & 11. Tahir also won comfortably in his bid for office in 2004 and 2006 to represent District 9, Ward 2.
What makes Tahir standout however is not the public service he has done, but rather, the civic activism he has engaged in by using his public office as an outcome. Tahir has worked extensively to raise awareness about Islam, raise the level of public engagement of Muslims, and raise awareness about Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir. In November of 2001, Tahir lead a delegation to Pakistan to deepen the understanding between the two countries in a post 9/11 world. The delegation met with a wide variety of Pakistani officials, and leaders of industry, government and other humanitarian agencies. Tahir also takes credit for significantly raising the level of awareness about Kashmir- both being involved with advocacy groups within the United States, and visiting Kashmir. Tahir notably visited the Azad Kashmir with colleague Robert Giuda (the Deputy Majority Leader of the New Hampshire Legislature). Robert Giuda went on to found “Americans for Resolution of Kashmir.” Tahir’s efforts to bridge gaps between the Muslim and Western worlds, and his positions on the Kashmir issue have often raised negative media attention, and have been criticized by opposing political actors.
Saghir Tahir holds two Bachelor of Science degrees- in Physics and Mathematics, and in Civil Engineering. Through the years, he has maintained his private enterprise and works as an independent consultant on infrastructure and energy.
Sada Cumber - First United States Ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Conference, United States 
Born and raised in Karachi, Sada Cumber completed his higher education at the University of Karachi, where he completed both a Bachelors degree in Commerce and a Master’s degree in History. Sada Cumber immigrated to the United States in 1978 and became a citizen in 1986. Upon becoming a citizen, Sada Cumber stepped up his entrepreneurial efforts- he set up base in Austin, Texas and went on to found (and co-found) more than eleven technology based companies. The most famous of his commercial endeavors include the international strategic advising firm Texas Global and the private wealth management firm CACH Capital Management. Leveraging on his higher education and his expertise on strategic management and corporate governance, both firms have a strong reputation. Large blue chip corporations have purchased a multitude of firms formed by Sada Cumber. Sada Cumber has also served on a variety of private governance boards, including the board of the intellectual property development company, TCMS LLC; and as Chairman of the Board of the imaging technology company Sozotek Inc.
Beyond his entrepreneurial success, Sada is also well known for his large scale and highly coordinated philanthropic work and civic and community service. The most prominent of his philanthropic involvement includes serving on the Governor of Texas’ Task Force on Higher Education, serving on the $300 million fund overseeing board of the Texas Economic Development Board, and serving on the board of the $200 million fund overseeing board of Texas Emerging Technology Fund.
Other groups, organizations and public-private partnerships have also leveraged Sada Cumber’s highly versatile and broad abilities to their advantage. He sat on the Board and Executive Committee of World Congress on Information Technology, on the advisory council of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, as an advisory board member of the Huston chapter of the group Indus Entrepreneurs, and as the President (twice) of His Highness the Aga Khan Council for Southwest USA. He has also sat on the Board of Trustees of the Photo Marketing Association International, the Digital Imaging Marketing Association, the Association of Photo CD Users. He has also held the position to the Honorary Consul for the country Malta in Texas.
Though widely known and widely published about in major news and public outlets, Sada Cumber gained particular attention when he was appointed as a Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This appointment was an instrumental move by President George Bush Jr. in an attempt to reach out to the Muslim world and raise interfaith dialogue and confidence building measures between the Western world and the Islamic world. During his tenure (which lasted till January of 2009), Sada Cumber traveled extensively throughout the Muslim world, raising awareness and building strong relationships at both leadership and grassroots level with foreign governments, NGOs, civil society organizations and members of the international academia and intelligentsia.
Upon completing his term as Special Envoy, he founded and currently chairs the Alhambra US Chamber of Commerce- a lobby group that offers a wide array of services (leveraging on Sada Cumbers networks) to for-profit, not-for-profit, governmental organizations attempting to pursue ventures in the OIC member states.
Arif Alikhan – Legal Expert -- Obama Administration – Academic, Unites States 
Born in 1968 to a mother of Pakistani origin and a father of Indian origin, Arif Alikhan is best known for his achievements as a lawyer, a policy maker and an academic. Before starting his legal career, Arif Alikhan graduated from the University of California at Irvine cum lade, California in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Ecology. He then went to Loyola Law School to complete his Juris Doctor, which he completed with honours. During his time in law school, he also held the position of Chief Articles Editor of the Loyola Law Review.
Being admitted to the California State Bar in 1993, Alikhan propelled his legal career, starting as a Judicial Law Clerk for United States District Judge (Central District of California, Los Angeles), Honourable Ronald S.W. Lew. Alikhan then joined law firm Irell and Manella as an associate in Century City. Alikhan also served as a Technical Reserve Police Officer in Newport Beach, California. Alikhan’s major legal break came in 1997 when he moved to on to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, and worked his way up through the ranks to the positions of Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Crimes (U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles), then to Senior Advisor to the U.S. Attorney General (John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales in Washington, D.C.). Part of Alikhan’s responsibilities involved overseeing the national Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Program for the Department of Justice. In 2006, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Homeland Security and Public Safety for the City of Los Angeles. This was the first major public portfolio Alikhan held- the position also wielded significant power and influence, as the portfolio included overseeing the budget for the Emergency Management Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. The total operating budget for these three departments is over $2 billion annually. Alikhan was also instrumental in securing more than $400 million in grants for these departments.
Alikhan’s legal career reached new heights when in 2009, the Barack Obama administration appointed him as an Assistant Secretary for Policy Development to the powerful Department of Homeland Security. Alikhan oversaw a variety of large scale policy issues and coordinated research analysis and implementation of complex policies in a wide variety of fields pertaining to homeland security.
During his time in Washington, Alikhan also served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the National Defense University (NDU) College of International Security. Over the years, Alikhan has received large number of awards and recognitions from a variety of very influential federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and NASA Office of Inspector General.
Shahid Rafique Malik - Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament, United Kingdom 
The high profiled and high achieving Shahid Rafique Malik, born 1967, is a long time member and supporter of the Labour Party. Shahid Malik traces his political roots to his father, Rafique Malik- who immigrated to the United Kingdom in the 1960s. His father was actively involved in municipal politics, and over the years, held the position of Councilor and Mayor of Burnley.
Shahid Malik received his primary education at Barden High School and Burnley Sixth Form Centre, from where he when to South Bank Polytechnic in London to pursue advance studies in Business. He also attended Durham University. Before leaping into public political life, Shahid Malik enjoyed a successful career which included work in the fields of urban development, global anti-poverty work, education, human rights, and was also actively involved in raising civic awareness of these core issues. Shahid Malik’s first major public break came when he was appointed an Equality Commissioner for Northern Ireland in 1998. Malik held this position from 1999 to 2000, and was the first, and to date only, person from the British mainland to serve as a commissioner in Northern Ireland.
In 2000, Shahid Malik became the first elected non-Caucasian member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party- a position which he held until he became MP. Shortly after being elected to the National Executive Committee, Shahid Malik made his political intent to run for elected office as an MP clear; and after jumping a series of political hoops and facing a loss in a 2003 by-election, victory came in 2005- and it gained national attention. Shahid Malik had successfully defeated Conservative stalwart Sayeeda Warsi by a majority of 4615 votes.
As a Member of Parliament, he sat on the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Environmental Audit Select Committee, and in 2007, he became Britain's first Muslim Minister when Gordon Brown appointed him as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. During this time, he also famously helped monitor the 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary elections. Subsequently, in October 2008 assumed the position of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and in 2009 also assumed the role as a Home Office Minister. In May of 2009, he briefly stepped down from his ministerial positions and faced inquires into unethical spending practices. He was however cleared of any wrongdoing and, in June 2009, was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Despite his groundbreaking success and experience at senior posts within government, Shahid Malik lost his seat in the 2010 national elections. The loss was attributed to the fact that the dynamics and geography of his riding had changed significantly, and that a rogue ex-conservative independent candidate had run, Khaizar Iqbal, splitting the vote against Shahid Malik.
Beyond politics, Shahid Malik has also been extensively involved in community service, and has held a varied of other roles over the years, including Independent Governor of Sheffield Hallam University; member, Queen Mary University Policy Advisory Board and as an adviser to Middlesex University. He has also sat as the Vice-Chair of UNESCO UK.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, Labour Peer, British House of Lords, United Kingdom
Lord Nazir Ahmed, famously known as Lord Nazir, arrived with his family in the United Kingdom in 1969 with virtually no grasp of the English language -his father and uncles had migrated to Britain for employment in the then jobs abundant steel mills of Northern England. Lord Nazir’s political activities started at a young age when he was at Thomas Rotherham VIth Form College- which were fueled by the growing concern amongst immigrants of the National Front. In 1975, while at Thomas Rotherham, Lord Nazir successfully bid for the Student Presidency of the college. He was subsequently invited to join the Labour Party, and became Chairman of the Young Socialists. After college, Lord Nazir proceeded to Sheffield Hallam University to pursue a degree in Public Administration, and later became a small business owner and entrepreneur.
Lord Nazir’s first substantive bid into the political sphere was in 1989, when he decided to run for municipal office in Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The bid proved successful and Lord Nazir was elected in 1990 as the first ethnic minority councilor. During this tenure as a councilor, Lord Nazir also began his extensive work on the Kashmir conflict- work which continues to this day. He also served as a Magistrate during this period.
Lord Nazir then set his ambitions towards attaining a more engaged role in political life, and sought the Labour candidature for Member of Parliament from Bradford West. Lord Nazir’s bid, unfortunately was not successful, despite fact that he gained much media and political attention. After his loss in the candidateship bid, Lord Nazir set his eyes on becoming a Member of Parliament form Yorkshire South, but was asked to step down from nomination race by the Labour Party- as the Party was looking for more gender balanced representation in European Parliament. Lord Nazir’s active involvement in the Labour Party eventually proved to be of much value, when in June of 1998 he received a phone call from 10 Downing Street making him a Labour Peer. Lord Nazir’s peerage made him the first Muslim to become a part of the House of Lords.
Beyond his active involvement in the Labour Party in mobilizing the ethnic vote and fundraising, Lord Nazir has also been very active in raising the profile, organizational capacity and inclusion of British Muslims. This has put Lord Nazir into the spotlight, and has provided him with a reputation which undeniably marks him as an individual who is not afraid to ask politically challenging questions. Actions like publicly celebrating Eid with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, taking Oaths on the Quran, taking the first Hajj delegation from the UK to Saudi Arabia are actions that have all gained much media attention. Further his active involvement in creating the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body, his support of the civil society group the Muslim Parliament, and is controversial stands on the Palestinian and Kashmiri conflicts have given opposing groups and individuals much fodder for their cannons. Born and raised in Tooting, South London, Sadiq Khan has developed a one of the most public profiles in the Pakistan diaspora globally. His parents had immigrated from Pakistan to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and settled in Tooting, where he completed his schooling. Sadiq Khan then proceeded to the University of North London to complete his law degree. Sadiq Khan completed his legal education at the College of Law (Guilford).
Sadiq Aman Khan, Labour Party politician and Member of parliament, United Kingdom 
Specializing in Human Rights law, Sadiq Khan co-found the law firm Christian Khan with notable lawyer Louise Christian- and they quickly developed a reputation as a potent force in defending the rights of their clientele- Sadiq Khan also worked extensively on issues pertaining to police law. While at Christian Khan, Sadiq Khan represented cases in some of the highest courts of the land, including the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights. He also co-authored the books: Challenging Racism; Using the Human Rights Act (Lawrence and Wishart 2003) and Police Misconduct: Legal Remedies (LAG 4th edition 2005). Khan also held the position of visiting lecturer at University of North London and London Metropolitan University
Sadiq Khans’s first entered public politics as a Councillor for Tooting ward in the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006. This overlapped with his successful parliamentary bid in May of 2005- as a member of Tony Blair’s Labour team. Initially taking office as a backbencher, Sadiq Khan’s dedication to the issues and political activism on issues pertaining to youth and public engagement, citizenship and integration, political reform, issues of equity and issues pertaining to London 2012 Olympics gained him much public attention. He eventually made his way to the influential Public Accounts Select Committee, where he would make an impressionable mark on the Labour Leadership. This facilitated his appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government. In June 2009 Sadiq Khan was appointed to the Privy Council and invited to Cabinet meetings-making him both the first Asian- origin and Muslim-origin individual to become a member of a British Cabinet. Sadiq Khan’s accomplishments were widely acclaimed and were widely contributed to the strengths of the democratic institutions of the United Kingdom in light of the London bombings of 2005, and to the evolving demography of that country. Khan also famously visited the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia on an official visit to the Kingdom in 2009- making him the first British cabinet minister to visit the two holy sites.
Returning to the polls in 2010, Sadiq Khan was successful despite the major losses the Labour Party faced under their new leader Gordon Brown. Khan’s success amidst his party’s defeat only strengthened his position within the party, and later that year he was appointed to the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Transport- allowing him to attend Shadow Cabinet meetings. Soon after Khan spearheaded aspiring Labour idealist Ed Milliband’s leadership campaign. The success of the campaign facilitated an even stronger position for Khan within the Labour Party-and in late 2010, he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice.
Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi / Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, United Kingdom
Born to Pakistani immigrants in Dewsbury, Yorkshire in 1971, Sayeeda Warsi found her drive to become successful and her socio-political values from her father- a successful entrepreneur who started his life as an immigrant to Britain as a mill worker. She completed her schooling at Birkdale High School and Dewsbury College from where she proceeded to the university of Leeds to completed her LLB degree. Sayeeda Warsi completed her legal training at the College of Law-York, and subsequently served with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office Immigration Department. Upon qualifying as a solicitor, Sayeeda Warsi joined the law firm Whitfield Hallam Goodall Solicitors- Whitfield being the Conservative Member of Parliament from 1983 to 1987. Her legal work also included working for the Pakistani Ministry of Law.
Despite actively working behind the scenes on a variety of issues and agenda affecting the British Conservative Party, Sayeeda Warsi did not make a bid for public office until 2005, when she got herself nominated as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury- a ground breaking achievement in itself- making her the first Muslim woman to achieve the parliamentary bid ticket from the British Conservative Party. The parliamentary bid was clouded with controversy when gay rights activists criticized her for politically incorrect political tactics. She was also famously supported by opposition peer Lord Nazir Ahmed in her bid. Sayeeda Warsi’s bid was unsuccessful, she lost to the popular Labour Shahid Malik by 4615 votes. During the election period, she served as a special advisor to Conservative leader Michael Howard, and preceding the election, she campaigned actively for David Cameron’s Conservative Party leadership bid. Her efforts in Cameron’s leadership bid significantly raised her profile, and upon winning leadership of the party, Cameron appointed her Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party- further she was appointed to the position of Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and a working peer. Sayeeda Warsi’s peerage was conferred as Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury in the County of West Yorkshire in October 2007, making her the youngest peer to be appointed to the House of Lords.
Warsi stood by David Cameron has a Conservative stalwart and close advisor as his bid to become Prime Minister gained momentum- and with Cameron’s electoral success in May 2010, her position within the Conservative political establishment was cemented. Later that month, she was appointed as Minister without a portfolio to Cabinet, making her the first unelected Muslim appointed to cabinet, the first female Muslim appointed to cabinet, and the third Muslim appointed to a Ministerial position (after Shahid Malik and Sadiq Khan, respectively). During this time, she also assumed co-Chairmanship of the British Conservative Party. Sayeeda Warsi’s current portfolio has gained her much recognition, and her current position in British society and the British Conservative Party is thought to have made her the most influential official position held by a Muslim in British history.
Sajjad Haider Karim, Conservative Politician, Member of European Parliament, United Kingdom
Saj was born and raised in Lancashire, North West England, Sajjad Haider Karim has enjoyed a steady political career over the years. Completing his education in Lancashire and completing his legal education from the College of Law- Chester. As a youth, Sajjad was initially involved with the Conservative Party, but switched his efforts to support the British Liberal Democrats. Sajjad’s first electoral success came in 1994 in municipal politics when he was elected as a Councilor to the Pendle Borough Council on a Liberal Democratic ticket. Sajjad stayed on council for eight years, and during this time, he also successfully qualified to become a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He also practiced law extensively and secured partnerships and senior positions in a variety of law firms. He also set up his own firm in Pendle and Manchester.
The reputation and resources Sajjad Haider developed during his legal work and his work as a councilor gained significant momentum and reputation over the years- and in 2004, he leveraged this momentum to get himself elected as a Member of European parliament. His success made him the first Muslim from the United Kingdom to sit in European Parliament. Having won the election on a Liberal ticket, Haider crossed the floor to join the Conservatives in 2007. Though active as backbencher MEP during his first term, Sajjad Haider’s profile raised significantly during his second bid for MEP on a conservative ticket, and the subsequent term, which started in 2009. Later that year, he advanced to the front bench of European Parliament as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson- the position’s main responsibility is negotiating and working around the red tape that exists within European Union members at various levels governmental levels. Sajjad Haider was also appointed to Committee of Industry, Research and Energy by his Conservative colleagues- who formed a majority in the European Parliament. During his tenure in the Committee, Haider has been a strong proponent of green energy and green energy, believing in the importance of the sustainable sector in improving the lives of European and British citizens. He has also been a member of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine), and the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean.
During his second term, Sajjid Haider was also instrumental in the production of a series of reports and documents on issues pertaining to Trade relations between the European Union and India, and on possibilities of free trade between the two countries. The reports, like many of Haider’s political endeavors, put the interests of the people first, and put issues pertaining to human causes first.
As a proponent of global integration and coordination and development, Sajjad Haider Chaired and founded the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan Group; Vice-Chaired the European Parliament Equality and Diversity Intergroup; European Parliament Friends of the Commonwealth Group; and has been an active member of European Parliament Friends of Bangladesh Group and European Parliament Friends of India Group.
Atta-ur-Rehman Chishti, Conservative Politician, Councilor and Member of British Parliament, United Kingdom
Born in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan in 1978, Atta-ur-Rehman Chishti was raised in the United Kingdom, completing his schooling from a variety of institutions including Fort Luton High School and Rainham Mark Grammar School and Chatham Grammar School for Girls. Upon completing his schooling, he proceeded to University of Wales –Aberystwyth to pursue legal education. In 2001 Chishti was called to the Bar of England and Wales at Lincolns Inn. Chishti began his public and political career as a Labour representative in municipal elections for the Gillingham and Rainham in Kent County, United Kingdom in 2000. Facing defeat in his first bid, he returned to the polls three years later, again as a Labour representative- only this time to be successful. Soon after his election as a Labour councilor, his confidence in the Labour Party started to wane, and reached a tipping point when Chishti made his first bid for parliament as a Labour candidate from the riding of Horsham. He came in third. Subsequently, he joined hands with the British Conservatives as a diversity adviser influential Conservative Member of Parliament Francis Maude. Shortly thereafter, Chishti became a Deputy chair for Gillingham and Rainham Conservative Association 2007. In 2007, Chishti returned to the ballot box- with a Conservative ticket and agenda and was able to secure his seat comfortably.
As an elected councilor, he also served on the Medway Regional Full Council, the local legislative body responsible for municipal issues, and held the portfolio of Community Safety and Enforcement. Chishti also served as a close advisor to Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto- and was actively involved in raising her profile and lobbying her agenda in the United Kingdom. His work for Benazir Bhutto gained much media attention in both Pakistan and the United Kingdom, and questions regarding ethics were raised.
With the selection of David Cameron as the Conservative Party leader, and with the large network and close contacts he had developed through his work with Francis Maude, Chishti then set his eyes on the national stage again- and in 2010 ran as a Conservative candidate for parliament from the riding of Gillingham and Rainham. Chishti ran a pragmatic and engaging campaign, and defeated liberal incumbent by a margin of 8680 votes (18.55%). Since joining Parliament, Chishti has sat on the Joint Committee on Human Rights (2010 to date), on the Joint Committee on the Draft Defamation Bill (2011 to date) and has been a member of the Protection of Freedoms Bill Committee. He has also been vocal on issues pertaining to legal affairs, the judicial system, issues pertaining to Pakistan and the NHS. Holding both the position of councilor and of MP, he retained his dual representative right in May 2011 when he won the municipal elections for a fourth time.
Beyond politics, Atta-ur-Rehman Chishti has also been actively involved in sports, and has been a Parliamentary Fellow of Sport, participated in a number of half marathons for charity, and is an avid cricketer.
Concluding Thoughts: Redefining the Narrative
In assessing and comparing the fourteen stories above, it becomes abundantly clear that there are two major attributes that all sixteen characters have in common. The first is a democratic and industrious spirit- the belief that one can actually engage in political and civil society to create a better society for oneself and for one’s community. Whether it be the case of Baroness Warsi, who may very well be the most influential member of the Pakistani diaspora, or the young and charismatic Atta-ur-Rehman Chishti, they all have in common their confidence in the political system of their local polities- confidence in the idea that one can engage in the socio-political system as an agent of constructive debate and improvement through democratic engagement. This is a stark contrast to the Pakistani political paradigm at home, where walkouts, boycotts and denials seem to be the political tools of choice. Also worth outlining is the fact that the Anglophone polities these individuals live in have an entrenched political system which allows individuals of different origins to engage politically, and to become a part of the political system.
The second common denominator is that many of these individuals are highly educated, whether they are business specialists like Saghir Tahir and Sada Cumber, or lawyers like Arif Alikhan and Yasir Naqvi; they all have a strong academic foundation-which can easily be argued to be the foundation to all these individual’s success. It may also be argued that the ability to comprehend and navigate the modern polities these individuals live in has been complemented by their academic accomplishments. This again, is a stark contrast to the situation in Pakistan, with its longstanding debate over the standard and quality of education- particularly amongst its leaders and lawmakers. This contrast is further exacerbated by the fact that laws seem to be written and circumvented too often in the name of political gain without a complete understanding of the Pakistani socio-political dynamic.
Hence in conclusion, and in order to propose a direction which may assist in re-defining the Pakistani narrative, the basic and seemingly simplistic common denominators that these fourteen individuals have provide guidance on how to break through the glass ceiling of the negative narrative- and into new frontiers. The seemingly simple idea that a dynamic education and confidence and trust in the democratic system can pave the path to break into new frontiers may very well be an idea worth considering for the Pakistani populous at home. After all, if it seems to have worked for the diaspora living so far away, who started with so little and so much against them, then what is one to say of the potential of a ~180 million Pakistanis at home?
As more individuals in the Pakistani diaspora become politically involved, this list will grow. We would welcome additional nominations to be added to this list. Please contact us with suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Yasir Naqvi MPP Online:
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