Unfortunately many of the Pakistanis who arrived in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s - the pioneers - have died over the last few years. It was these individuals who made us see what was possible, what could be done,
Bashir Ahmad MSP
Unfortunately many of the Pakistanis who arrived in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s - the pioneers - have died over the last few years. It was these individuals who made us see what was possible, what could be done, and where our community might go in the future. The legacy of their lives has been passed on in the activities of many of our outstanding youngsters and we commemorate them with honour.
One such person was Bashir Ahmad (12 February 1940 - 6 February 2009) a successful businessman and a Scottish National Party politician. He made history when he was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent the Glasgow region at the 2007 election, as the first MSP to be elected from Asian-Scots, Muslim and non-White backgrounds..
He was born in 1940 in Amritsar, India before partition and was brought up in Pakistan. He migrated to Scotland in 1961, at the age of 21, settling in the Pollokshields district of Glasgow. Here, he achieved success as an entrepreneur, hotelier, and restaurateur. He served five terms as President of the Pakistan Welfare Association.
Ahmad has long been active in the Scottish National Party (SNP). In 1995, he founded Asian Scots for Independence to attract more Asian-Scots to the party. He retired from business in 2003 to devote himself to politics. In that year's elections, he was elected councillor of Pollokshields East.
Upon his selection as second on the SNP's Glasgow list, Ahmad said: "The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community. But SNP members have righted that wrong. By doing so, they have proved that the SNP aspires to lead a Scottish Parliament that will represent all of Scotland - a truly national parliament. I firmly believe the SNP can now earn the trust of the Asian community throughout Scotland and that this will be a bond that endures for generations."
During the 2007 elections, Ahmad was elected to the Scottish Parliament on the Glasgow regional list. He thus became the first British Pakistani MSP. He took his oath of office in both English and the Urdu language.
Bashir Ahmad made a strong impact in Parliament. He initiated a debate in Parliament on the Emergency Rule imposed by President Pervez Musharraf. Furthermore, he had been vocal on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict tabling many motions on the issue. In addition, he had been working closely with the Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, to provide an effective system within the NHS to deal with male circumcision, an issue that affects every Muslim Parent. He had discussions with the Justice Department seeking to bring in some legislation to tackle the problem of forced marriages within Scotland.
Bashir Ahmad was part of the Public Petition Committee as well as the cross party group (CPG) on the ‘Elderly and Older people’, CPG ‘Palestine’ and CPG on ‘Human Rights’.