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Diaspora rising

The Pakistani diaspora in the US and Canada has taken a step in the right direction after a long pause of 20 years since the 9/11 tragedy. Rather than Associating with Pakistani politics and Pakistani political parties, some foresighted Pakistani- Americans are interactive with the mainstream American political system.

As a consequence, we can see five Pakistani-Americans nominated for highly responsible and visible positions by President Biden under his administration. They include Lina Khan, 32, a big critic of tech monopolies like Amazon, Facebook, and others, is chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission; Ali Zaidi as deputy National Climate Advisor; Salman Ahmad as director Policy Planning; and Zahid Nisar Qureshi as federal district judge in New Jersey.

The presidential nomination of Dilawar Syed as deputy administrator of the giant Small Business Administration has triggered some strong reaction against these nominations on the pretext of bias against Israel. Once approved, Dilawar Syed will be the highest ranking Muslim in the Biden Administration. Young Ms Lina Khan as head of the Federal Trade Commission has already earned recognition for her work and talent.

This is the first time so many Pakistani-Americans can be seen on visible high positions in the American governmental system. Why and how did this happen? This was all thanks to the foresight and courage of some individuals and organisations of the diaspora that took the lead and decided to be part of the Democratic and Republican parties. Texas businessmen like Javed Anwar (Republican) and Tahir Javed (Democrat) supported their party candidates for presidency as well as Congress. They earned recognition from the candidates and their party leadership.

Dr Asif Mahmood Chaudhry in California supported Kamala Harris for vice-president. In New York and the East Coast, APPAC under Dr ijaz Ahmad worked as the political action committee, held fundraising meetings, and invited candidates for various positions – from the State Assembly to the House of Representatives and the Senate. Recently, they held a fundraiser for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Robert Menendez, who played a role in the nomination of Zahid Nisar Qureshi as federal district judge in his state of New Jersey. Senator Menendez has criticised India for human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir. The results of such Pakistani professionals and business persons have rekindled the guiding light for the Pakistani diaspora to move in the right direction of its new generation here in America.

First-generation Pakistani immigrants had to struggle to establish themselves as professionals, to raise their families and achieve their professional and economic goals. Now, the younger generation of Pakistani-Americans have come to an age. Born, raised and educated in America, this young generation is part of mainstream America. They are not interested in joining any Pakistani political party’s branch in the US – yet they sing Dil Dil Pakistan and say Pakistan Zindabad, because of their roots and heritage. Out of five Pakistan-American nominees, four are from the second generation of Pakistani-Americans. First-generation Pakistanis are about to hand over leadership to their America-born, raised and educated youth.

Recently, a young Pakistani-American Attorney Shaharyar has joined the Republican Party in the Democratic majority state of New York. But his county politics is dominated by Republicans that will provide him room for training and experience in politics for future.

A first-generation Pakistani immigrant turned American citizen, Ms Shama Haider twice got elected council member of her town and now she is a Democratic Party nominee for the New Jersey State Assembly. Likewise, some young Americans of Pakistani descent are holding some visible positions in various states and counties.

Muslims in America, including the Pakistani community, went through isolation and victimisation due to Islamophobia after the tragedy of 9/11. Prior to this, the Pakistani community along with Arab and other communities, was progressing fast in the social, political and economic areas of life. After a 20-year pause, the Pakistani-American diaspora is ‘back on track’ to becoming an active part of the American political system.

Azim M Mian, "Diaspora rising," The News. 2021-11-04.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political system. Political party , Leadership , Democrats , Republican , Zahid Nisar Qureshi , Ali Zaidi , Canada , Pakistan