LONDON: A record number of British-Pakistanis could become a part of the Parliament after the general elections on December 13. For the first time Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have given tickets to more than 70 candidates of British Pakistani origin for the elections – the highest number of candidates. Many are also contesting the election as independent candidates.
Most British-Pakistani candidates are from the Conservative Party but candidates on the Labour ticket have a greater chance of winning.
The Conservative Party has fielded 20 candidates of Pakistani origin. The list includes current chancellor Sajid Javid who has been part of the Parliament since 2010 from Bromsgrove in Warwickshire. Other notable candidates include Nusrat Ghani, Rehman Chishti and Saqib Bhatti. Ghani has served as the Minister for Transport and was elected first in 2015 from Wealde in Southeast. She was the first female of Pakistani origin to represent Conservatives in the House of Commons.
Chishti, who is prime minister’s special envoy for religious freedom, was first elected from Gillingham and Rainham in 2010. The most interesting candidate in the list is Bhatti who is from Birmingham but has been awarded ticket in these elections from one of the safest Conservative seats — Meriden in Warwickshire. An accountant by profession, Bhatti is also the current president of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. He is the first Muslim and youngest Pakistani to hold this position. Others contesting from Conservative Party’s platform are Iftikhar Ahmed (Barnsley Central), Mohammad Afzal (Bradford West), Ex MEP Amjad Bashir (Leeds North-East), Kashif Ali (Halifax), Imran Ahmad-Khan (Wakefield).
From Greater London region Noshaba Khilji (Leyton & Wanstead) and Ali Azeem (Ilford South) will be taking on their Labour rivals. From Greater Manchester region Atiffa Shah (Rochdale), Attika Chaudhary (Salford & Eccles), Tayyab Amjad (Stalybridge & Hyde) and Mussadak Mirza (Stretford & Urmston) are standing on Tory tickets.
Also in the Conservative list are Wass (Wasim) Mughal (Sefton Central, Lancashire), Ahmed Ejaz (Wolverhampton South East), Pervaiz Akhtar (Luton South) and Haroun Malik (Inverclyde, Scotland).
On the other hand, 19 candidates of Pakistani origin are vying for a seat in Parliament on a Labour Party’s ticket. Labour had the most number of parliamentarians of Pakistani origin in the last Parliament; nine in total. All of the candidates are contesting this year’s election as well.
Among them are Khalid Mahmood, who has been winning from Birmingham-Perry Barr since 2001 and is currently the senior-most Muslim parliamentarian of Pakistani origin; Shabana Mahmood (elected first in 2010) from Birmingham-Ladywood; Yasmeen Qureshi (elected first in 2010) from Bolton-South East; Naz Shah (first elected in 2010) from Bradford-West; Imran Hussain (first elected in 2010) from Bradford-East; DrRosena Allin-Khan from Tooting (who replaced local MP Sadiq Khan when he became Mayor of London); Afzal Khan from Manchester-Gorton; Faisal Rashid (elected first in 2017) from Warrington-South; and Mohammed Yasin (elected first in 2017) from Bedford.
The new prospective parliamentary candidates from Labour Party are: Tahir Ali (Birmingham-Hall Green), Zarah Sultana (Coventry South); Azhar Ali (Pendle); Khalil Ahmed (Wycombe); Zahid Chauhan (Cheadle); Nabila Ahmed (Hemel Hempstead); Faiza Shaheen (Chingford & South Woodford); Marina Ahmed (Beckenham); Ahmed Nawaz Watttoo (Carshalton and Wallington) and Safia Ahmed (Falkirk-Scotland).
Both Sultana and Ali have been awarded tickets from safe Labour seats. However, Ali faces a tough challenge from opponent Roger Godsiff, who has been a Labour MP from Birmingham since 1992 but is contesting these elections as an independent candidate this time around after Labour refused to back him over a row on his stance on LGBT issue.
Liberal Democrats have fielded some 12 candidates of Pakistani origin for the December elections. They have never had any MP of Pakistani origin. The list of prospective parliamentary candidates for Liberal Democrats includes Hina Bokhari (Sutton & Cheam); Humaira Ali (Bermondsey & Southwark); Dr Tariq Mahmood (Ealing-Southall); Hina Malik (Feltham & Heston); Khalil Yusuf (Crawley); Ayesha Mir (Milton Keynes North); Saleyha Ahsan (Milton Keynes South); ZuffarHaq (Harborough); Waheed Rafiq (Birmingham-Hall Green); Kamran Hussain (Leeds North West); Javed Bashir (Calder Valley); and Fayzan Rehman (Stirling). Zaffar Huq, Hina Malik, and Ayesha Mir who contested in the 2017 elections. The anti-Europe Brexit Party has also fielded five candidates of Pakistani origin.
They are Dr Tariq Mahmood (Stoke); Waqas Ali Khan (Keighley); Waj Ali (Hemsworth); Dr Ahmed Malik (Chesham &Amersham); and Danyaal Raja (Glasgow South).
Four candidates of Pakistani origin are participating in elections from Green Party’s platform. They are ShahabAdris (Leeds East); Dr Reza Hassan (Blackburn); Ty Akram (Batley & Spen); and Talia Hussain (Islington South &Finsbury). Around 10 British Pakistani candidates are vying for a seat in Parliament as Independents are from small local parties. The independent candidates are Azfar Shah Bukhari (Bradford West); Yasin Rehman (Luton North); Mohammed Ashraf (Luton South); Irum Altaf Kiyani (Altrincham & Sale West); Rizwan Ali Shah (Blackburn); Haseebur Rehman (Hackney South & Stoke Newington); and Mohammed Ali Bhatti (UKIP). Kamran Malik (East Ham) and Humera Malik (West Ham) are both from Communities Party while Hassan Zulkifl (Ealing-Southall) is from Workers Revolutionary Party.
Scotland’s largest party, the SNP has not given a ticket to any candidate of Pakistani origin. However, in the last two elections in 2015 and 2017, renowned Scottish-Pakistani TV actress Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh was SNP’s candidate.