Yousaf, the new First Minister, is proud of his Pakistani heritage

“Congratulations @HumzaYousaf on becoming the first First Minister of Scotland with Pakistani roots,” wrote Bilawal, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and son of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. “I wish you well in your tenure at Bute House and I look forward to a strong partnership in trade, investment, culture and education.”

“Thank you for your kind words,” Yousaf replied. “Pakistan will always have a special place in my heart. Scotland’s relationship with Pakistan is a friendship that has grown over many generations and I look forward to it growing even stronger.”

Indeed, Pakistan holds a special place in Mr. Yousaf’s heart. In his first speech as SNP leader, he thanked his wife Nadia, daughters Maya and Amal and his parents before addressing his grandparents, who barely spoke a word of English when they first set foot in Scotland.

“Unfortunately,” he began, “you won’t live to see this day anymore. But I am forever grateful that my grandparents made the journey from Punjab to Scotland over sixty years ago.

“When Muhammad Yousaf was working at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank and Rehmat Ali Bhutta was stamping tickets on Glasgow Corporation buses, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that two generations later their grandson would one day be Scotland’s First Minister”.

Earlier this week, Mr Yousaf was photographed praying Ramadan with his family on his first night at Bute House, his official residence.

Mr Yousaf, who has been MSP for Glasgow Pollok since 2016, was first elected to the Glasgow Regional List in May 2011. He awoke after three hours of sleep after election night to find no fewer than 186 messages on his phone, mostly from Scottish Asians, including former Scottish Labor MP Mohammad Sarwar and community leader Bashir Maan. He said he was surprised to receive eight calls from residents of his father’s small village in Pakistan after his election success was announced on Pakistani television channel GeoTV.

After being elected MSP on the list, he took his oath in English and Urdu before the Queen. When he was re-elected in 2016, he did the same, wearing both a kilt and a sherwani to reflect his Scottish and Pakistani heritage.

This week, after he took office as the top political post in Scotland, people stood outside the house where his grandfather and father had lived in the city’s busy bazaar known as the ‘Rail Bazar’ in Mian Channu, im Northeast Pakistan.

It has been reported that the first floor of the house is occupied by shops in the bazaar. In the usable front part of the house there are tailors, vendors selling samosas and jewelry. Part of the second floor of the two-storey house has collapsed, the rest is unusable.

Mr Yousaf’s success is said to have been greeted with delight by Mian Channu, with relatives recalling a man who was “witty, easy to talk to and a thorough gentleman”.

Pakistan Daily, which reported extensively on Mr Yousaf’s achievements, noted that his family ties to Pakistan “remained strong as he often visited his extended family in the country and maintained a close connection to his heritage”.

It added: “Yousaf has consistently championed strong ties between Scotland and Pakistan, both economically and culturally. As Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, he played a crucial role in promoting trade relations between the two countries.

“Under his leadership, Scotland and Pakistan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on education, health and renewable energy.

“Yousaf was also an advocate for the rights of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK. He worked tirelessly to promote social cohesion and inclusion and to fight discrimination and prejudice faced by minority communities.”

The daily added that Mr Yousaf received the prestigious Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam award from the President of Pakistan in 2016 in recognition of his efforts to strengthen Scotland-Pakistan ties. Yousaf, the new First Minister, is proud of his Pakistani heritage

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