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British Pakistanis Becoming A Powerful Influence In UK Politics

Ishtiaq Ahmad

Muslim politics in the UK has moved forward in leaps and bounds from the days when Bashir Maan first got elected to the Glasgow City Council in 1970. Since those early days, Muslim integration into British politics has moved forward remarkably, particularly in the last two decades, despite widespread anti-Muslim sentiments in the British society at large.
This indicates that British Muslims take their presence, influence and their growing political power in the UK seriously, now their first and perhaps the only permanent home.
British Pakistanis are approaching 4 million persons of the Muslim faith in the UK, making them the largest non-indigenous faith community in Britain
This is not in any way to suggest that they feel any less passionate about the countries of their origin. This is certainly not the case with British Pakistanis or Kashmiris who unreservedly continue to cherish and reinforce their links with what they refer to as back home.
There are approaching 4 million persons of the Muslim faith in the UK, making them the largest non- indigenous faith community in Britain. Of these, the Muslims of Pakistani / Kashmiri origin are the single largest ethnic group at about 1.1 million.
The presence and the influence of British Pakistanis/ Kashmiris are visible and felt in almost all walks of life and no less so in the political institutions of the UK.
In the last two decades, there has been a marked increase in British Pakistanis entering the mainstream politics of the UK and being elected to the local and national democratic institutions-local councils and parliament alike.
The presence and the influence of British Pakistanis/ Kashmiris are visible and felt in almost all walks of life and no less so in the political institutions of the UK.
In the last three general elections, we have seen a steady increase in the number of Muslim Parliamentarians. The current Parliament, elected in December of 2019, saw 18 Muslim members of parliament being elected, four higher than in the last general elections in 2017, coming through the channels of labour and conservatives.
In this encouraging development, it is great to see Muslim women also breaking through to take up their rightful position as parliamentarians. Out of the 18 Muslim members of parliament, 10 are women. Twenty women of Pakistani/ Kashmiri origin contested the parliamentary seats but only six were elected, out of which five were re-elected in the general election of December 2019.
Amongst those elected included Zahra Sultana, becoming the youngest ever Muslim member of parliament winning her nail-biting contest from Coventry South at the age of 27. The women parliamentarians, like Naz Shah, Yasmin Qureshi, and Nusrat Ghani in the House of Commons and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in the House of lords represent some of the most articulate, strong and passionate voices in the British Parliament.
Whilst Sajid Javid (conservative), of Pakistani parents from Toba Tegh Singh, is one of the highest-profile and most influential politicians in the present government. Sajid is presently the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, having previously held such elevated roles as Home Secretary, and the Chancellor of Exchequer.
There are over 600 Muslim councillors, mainly of Pakistani/ Kashmiri origin on various city and town councils, holding important political and civic positions.
Outside the Parliament, Sadiq Khantwice was elected as the Mayor of London, one of the world’s premier economic hubs and the financial centre is indeed a point of pride and joy for British Pakistanis. All this sits well with the political integration of British Pakistanis / Kashmiris in political structures.
There are over 600 Muslim councillors, mainly of Pakistani/ Kashmiri origin on various city and town councils, holding important political and civic positions. In my own city of Bradford, fondly referred to as ‘little Pakistan’, almost one-third of the Council is made of councillors of Pakistani/ Kashmiri origin, with the deputy leader and the lord mayor of Pakistani/ Kashmiri origin.
Bradford has welcomed 7 lord mayors since the appointment of the first Muslim Lord Mayor of the city back in 1985. A great deal of water has gone under the political bridge since.
The majority of the Muslim members of parliament are of Pakistani origin which is a good omen for the community moving forward. It is also a good omen for Pakistan because a politically strong Pakistani community in the UK, one of the world’s most influential nations, can only be beneficial for Pakistan in moving forward.
I have always maintained that a politically, economically and socially strong Pakistani community in the UK is of much greater significance and importance to Pakistan’s future progress and development.
The writer is a British citizen of Pakistani origin with a keen interest in Pakistani and international affairs.

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