Believed to be the first Pakistani to be elected to a state legislature anywhere in the United States, Saghir Tahir was born in Sahiwal. In 1972, he migrated to the United States with about 100 dollars and a degree in Civil Engineering. In United States he worked a variety of jobs, mostly in the construction field. He was married to the work rather than married to his wife. Focusing on his work left him with little time for the family. He wanted to take his children out of the poverty cycle and to do that he had to work and he did work more than 16, 18, 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
Saghir Tahir’s political focus had been on education and aiding the needy. He maintained that helping the needy is not charity but a duty demanded by Islam. From birth to death there are thousands of human needs. Most are fulfilled by education and employment. Everyone should do whatever he/she can. It is not a charity. It is our duty and the right of those who do not have. It is Islam.
The Pakistan Association of Greater Washington (a group that focuses on issues facing the Pakistani-American Community, specially relating to the first immigrant generation) honoured Saghir Tahir with a Community Achievement Award for his accomplishments. The Lt. Governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, sent a message in recognition of his accomplishments.
As a Pakistani-American Muslim elected official, Saghir Tahir had been working to strengthen understanding between Americans of all backgrounds. After the attacks of September 11, 2001 Saghir Tahir felt compelled to try to ease the tension between Pakistan and the USA. He was impressed when after the attacks of 9-11 New Hampshire leaders reached out to him and others among the small population of local Muslims. The mayor, the police chief, the attorney general, a Jewish rabbi offered protection or sponsored events to promote public understanding. Saghir Tahir had long maintained that the example of co-existence in the US could help end factionalism in Pakistan, If all the religions and communities of the world can live and prosper in USA, why can't we do it in Pakistan? It is real Islam.
In November 2001, Saghir Tahir lead a delegation to Pakistan to promote better understanding between Pakistan and the United States of America. The central points of the trip were to promote the idea that Pakistan's future development relies heavily on foreign investment, especially from the United States and the European Union, to establish better awareness between the people of Pakistan and the USA, and to inform Pakistanis that there are many Americans who support fair policies towards Muslim nations.
Saghir Tahir was President of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) New Hampshire chapter. Since the 2005 Pakistan earthquake Saghir Tahir had been raising money for the Pakistan earthquake victims. He also lead a delegation to rebuild a destroyed school.
Saghir Tahir, 68, who spent a decade representing New Hampshire state's House of Representatives, died on 16 October, 2013 of a heart attack. Family, friends and some of the top politicians remembered him as a pillar of the New Hampshire state's Pakistani and Muslim communities and a devoted family man.
Dr. Salman Malik, who served with Saghir Tahir on the board of the Islamic Society, said he was deeply saddened at the loss of his friend and pillar of not just the Pakistani or Muslim communities, but the greater Manchester and New Hampshire communities as well. It just hasn't sunk in, the finality of it all, Malik said. It's like we've closed a chapter in a book, and I just wish that book was longer.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he was mourning the passing of truly a dear friend who, he said, would never say no.
Whenever somebody needed help, Saghir Tahir would help, Gatsas said. His death is an absolute shock. There will certainly be a void (in the community).
State Senator Lou D'Allessandro, D-Manchester, remembered Saghir Tahir as a good businessman and a great family man who would never take a passive role. I don't think he was ever afraid to speak his mind, D'Allesandro said. The community will certainly miss him.
In addition to his business and political interests, Saghir Tahir was active in several charities and advocacy groups, ranging from the Hooksett Community Food Pantry to the Americans for Resolution of Kashmir organization.
He left behind wife Nusrat Tahir and three children Misbah, Adeel, and daughter Sanam. He resided in Manchester, New Hampshire. Saghir Tahir was employed as an independent consultant on roofing, waterproofing and energy. His clients were mostly Fortune 500 companies.
He was a great father and a great role model. He fit some of the stereotypes of first-generation Americans, his son , Misbah Tahir, said. It's kind of a self-made, classic story.