Baroness Sayeeda Warsi Named U.K. Minister and Tory Party Chairwoman

Posted on May 16, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations, Pakistanis Abroad, People, Women
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Adil Najam

David Cameron, the new Conservative Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has named 39-year old, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi of Dewsbury whose family hails from Gujjar Khan, Pakistan, as a Minister without portfolio (at this time) in and UK Cabinet and as Chairwoman of the Conservative Party.

Lady Warsi becomes the first Muslim woman and the first woman of Pakistani origin to hold a UK cabinet position. Although she is not the first Pakistani to hold a UK cabinet position, she is certainly the highest profile Pakistani to do so.

Another Briton of Pakistani descent, Sadiq Khan, had earned the distinction of being the first Pakistani and Muslim in a U.K. cabinet as Gordon Brown’s Minister of State for Transport. Earlier, Shahid Malik – who had defeated her for her hometown Dewsbury, Yorkshire, sear in 2005 – was selected in 2007 as Gordon Brown’s under-secretary of state for international development (which, although not a cabinet position, is a significant and high position in the UK government. Although never elected to office by a direct vote, Lady Warsi is a Life Peer in 2007.

According to a report in Dawn:

In Pakistan, a country where many fear they are being stigmatised as “terrorists”, people are jubilant over her appointment.

Born into a modest family which migrated from Pakistan’s central town of Gujjar Khan to Britain in the 1960s, Warsi has been involved in politics since her college days. Newspapers prominently published photos of Warsi standing in front of 10 Downing Street and television channels interviewed her proud relatives and family friends in Gujjar Khan. Warsi runs five vocational training centres for orphaned girls in villages near Gujjar Khan through a women’s charity. Cameron visited Gujjar Khan with her in 2008. “We feel proud that she is from us,” said Hina Shaukat, a student in a vocational training centre in Bewal village near Gujjar Khan. Eight girls sat around her, busily sewing.

According to a post in the Dewsbury Reporter:

Baroness Warsi said she was ‘hugely privileged and deeply humbled’ by her appointment as Conservative Party chairwoman and minister without portfolio. She said: “The main role which David Cameron has asked me to do will be operating a central office, making sure voluntary parties and new MPs are supported, and campaigning. Over the last three years I’ve been to more target seats than any member of the shadow cabinet apart from David, and I was with him on the marathon 36-hour final leg of the campaign.”

Earlier in 2009, Baroness Sayeeda Wasti had been named the most influencial Muslim woman in Britian in 2009:

In a news report headlined “Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi brightens up Downing Street” the British Daily The Telegraph writes:

Baroness Warsi posed in Downing Street in traditional dress after the coalition Cabinet’s historic first meeting. After gamely removing her coat at the request of photographers and hanging it on a railing, the former solicitor, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said: “To be born as the daughter of an immigrant mill worker in a mill town in Yorkshire, to have the privilege of serving in Cabinet at such an important time in Britain’s history, I think it is terribly humbling.”

Lady Warsi’s pink shalwar kameez was in sharp contrast to the dark suits sported by most of the other, predominantly male, Cabinet members. Like many of the new ministers, she described yesterday’s meeting as “very constructive”. “There was a great amount of goodwill around the table. There’s lots of hard work to do and some serious decisions to be taken,” she added. Lady Warsi, 39, the former shadow minister for community cohesion, is the new chairman of the Tory Party, replacing Eric Pickles, who became local government secretary.

24 responses to “Baroness Sayeeda Warsi Named U.K. Minister and Tory Party Chairwoman”

  1. abdul hai says:

    I am happy and amazed at her success. 40 years ago, I was a victim of Paki bashing in England. Many of my fellow graduate students from Pakistan also had similiar experiences. Many of us left for brighter futures in US, Pakistan etc. I could not imagine then that a Muslim women who is a daughter of mill worker will become Tory Party chairman.

    Wish her luck and great future

  2. Adam Insaan says:

    I do have to express that I am rather glad on behalf of her
    and the Pakistani community as generel.

    It is indeed appreciable what has been achieved,
    -it happened in England now we will have to wait and see when we will be lucky here in Scandinavia.

    Men der skal lyde et stort Tillykke !
    (said in “scandinavian”-language)
    (A Big Congratulation from here)

  3. Aziz says:

    Incredible. I am pleased to see a Pakistani’s name on a “good” list :) May she go a long way in serving her country.

    I am amazed at how tolorant British people are. She wasn’t frowned upon when she showed up at such a high level meeting in traditional clothing. How do you think a Pakistani would have reacted if a foreign female dignitaries had showed up at the Presidential Palace in her traditional dress? Now turn around and think about how a Pakistani would have reacted if another Pakistani would show up in Western clothes to a high level meeting in a Western country?

    Question to ponder…

  4. Eidee Man says:

    When I logged on to ATP this morning, pictures of two people grabbed my attention. Both have had far greater access to education and other opportunities outside of Pakistan; the difference is that one chose to use the privilege for good, while the other chose evil. Perhaps the lesson in all of this is that to remove the disease from our society (read the comments if you need convincing that there indeed is a disease) we should let women lead the way.

  5. Adnan Ahmad says:

    An incredible feat. There is something beautiful about the group photo. Hats off to the British democracy.

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