RIYAZ UL KHALIQ
Contrary to reports that Nusart Ghani is the lone female politician with Kashmir origin who was elected to the UK House of Commons, reports now suggest the actual number is six – three males and three females.
The elected members were identified as Naz Shah (Chakswari), Imran Hussain (Mirpur), Khalid Mehmood, Shabana Mehmood (Mirpur), and Nusrat Ghani and the sixth is Rahman Chishti who family is from Muzaffarabad. In fact, five of them are from Mangla Dam region.
Of the six, the most written about lawmaker is Naz Shah whose actual name is Naseem Shah. She won Bardford West for Labour party, wresting the seat from George Galloway of the Respect Party.
Considered a very strong woman, Naz faced a crisis at the age of six when her father eloped with her 16-year old neighbour in Bradford. Her mother Zoora Shah later remarried but they have severe conjugal crisis. He failed to adequately protect her family and give them economic security forcing the family to live in abject poverty. Naz had been sent to Pakistan at the age of 12 as her mother felt that she could be abused by her step-father. Then in 1993 when her younger sister was facing the same tensions, Zoora, her mother poisoned her husband Mohammad Azam. She used arsenic to get ride off him. For the murder, she was given 20 years in jail. With the support of the women groups, she managed reducing her mother’s punishment to 12 years but by the time she was out of jail she had already completed 14 years.
Then Naz at a young age was forcibly married away in Pakistan. But she managed to get out of it and fly to London and support her sister and jailed mother. She did menial jobs to manage their survival and gradually got social recognition that eventually paid her by making it to the House of Commons, last week.
Shabana Mehmood is another high profile Labour lawmaker who retained her seat – Birmingham Ladywood – the multi-cultural central seat in the Birmingham city. A barrister, Shabana is the daughter of the Birmingham Labour Party’s chairperson who hails from Mirpur in Pakistan administered Kashmir. She had graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford, where she studied law. Born and brought up in Small Heath, Birmingham, she was with her father in Taif, Saudi Arabia between 1981 and 1986 as her father, a civil engineer, was working there. Post University, she completed the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law, having been awarded a scholarship by Gray’s Inn. After completing her pupil age at 12 King’s Bench Walk chambers in London, she practised as an employed Barrister, specialising in professional indemnity litigation. Shabana is one of the first Muslim women and also the first Asian women, to be elected to the Parliament.
Imran Hussain is another Labour MP who won from Bardford East for the first time. A lawyer and the deputy leader of Bardford Council, Hussain was defeated by George Galloway in the year 2012 by-election in Bradford West, but has now succeeded in unseating Liberal Democrat David Ward. He was the first in his family to attend university and describes himself as “Bradford through and through – it’s where I was born, raised and still live now with my wife and kids”.
Atta-ur-Rehman Chishti, who is known as Rehman Chishti is a Conservative Party politician and was re-elected from Gillingham and Rainham, a Kent constituency, for the second time. A Muzaffarabad man, is the son of Abdul Rehman Chishti, then Zulfikhar Ali Bhutoo’s Federal Adviser on religious affairs. After Bhutoo’s was overthrown, Chishti left Pakistan in 1978 and was appointed as an Imam in a mosque. He is also a lawyer.
Khalid Mehmood, the Labour Party politician has been in Parliament since 2001 and has retained his Perry Barr seat of Birmingham in 2015. A graduate of UCE Birmingham and a former engineer with a trade union background, Mehmood, whose origins are from PaK, was a City Councillor from 1990–1992. Mehmood in 2013 was part of the campaign against the decision by Birmingham College to ban students wearing veils. During his political career, he got bad press in 2009 when he was accused of living in a five star hotel with his girl friend at the Parliament’s expense. Despite all this, he retained his seat.
As already reported, Nusrat Ghani Shah aka Nus Ghan was elected as a Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Wealden. Her father Abdul Ghani served as a school master in Kashmir in the 1960s before the family migrated to UK. Ms Ghani was educated in state schools in Birmingham and then at Cadbury Sith Form College and the University of Central England. She joined the Conservative Party in 2009, in response to David Cameron’s call for a wider range of people to offer themselves as candidates.
UK is perhaps the only country where Kashmir-origin population is considered to be nearly half a million. They migrated from PaK areas; mostly Mirpur after the Mangla Dam devoured hundreds of villages. Though initially their number was not more than 5000, they grew up rapidly and are found across UK, mostly in Bradford. Their second and third generations are more British than their grand-parents and are contributing to the socio-economic life of the country which does not exclude politics.
Results of British parliament elections were out last week and David Cameron led Conservative Party got 331 of the 650 berths. This House of Commons that will see Cameron ruling UK for the second term has more Muslim women including six from Labour Party, one Conservative and one Scottish Nationalist Party. The three main parties have 331, 232 and 56 seats in the British Parliament, respectively.
This is for the first time that India and Pakistan have nine members each in the British Parliament with the tenth Sajid Javid, a Conservative Party MP, claiming to have origins in India as well as Pakistan. His father is Indian and mother Pakistani and both sides count him in. Of the “ten” Pakistani side MPs, six are actually Kashmiri origin politicians, second generation of the immigrants who fled Pakistan soon after the partition.